National Oil Spill Commission Releases Final Report

Today, the Presidentially-appointed National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling (aka “the spill commission”) released its long-awaited final report on their months-long investigation into the causes of the world’s largest accidental oil spill. The report was formally rolled out during a press event this morning. You can download it here, and view a multimedia presentation summarizing the report and the Commission’s recommendations.

The news conference included a fairly lengthy Q&A with reporters that featured some thoughtful and difficult questions for the commissioners. We tweeted what struck us at the time as some of the highlights of the session. Video of the news conference, which was broadcast by C-SPAN, should be available soon according to the Commission’s website.

One of the interesting quotes, from co-chairman William Reilly, was this helpful reminder: “Spills are predictable – they’re going to happen from time to time.”

Commissioners stressed that some of their recommendations can be implemented without any new legislation or funding – an important selling point given the renewed anti-regulation, “leave business alone” mood in Congress – but when commissioner Frances Beinecke was asked for the highest-priority recommendation of the commission she didn’t miss a beat:

Adequately fund the Interior Department so they can effectively enforce the rules and regulations that govern offshore oil and gas drilling.

That sure seems like a no-brainer, but when it comes to politics you can’t assume anything. I hope Congress is paying attention.

Stay tuned – there are other investigations still underway, so this is by no means the last word on the BP spill. We’re particularly interested in what the well-respected Chemical Safety Board turns up.

1 reply
  1. John says:

    Got this comment by email from L. Jewett, who agreed to have me post it here – John

    Hi John,

    Just a brief comment on the media presentation that you linked to.

    From the opening line of the oil spill commission media presentation:

    "Nobody considered it possible"

    Quite an interesting claim, given what NOAA scientists had said just a few months before the Deepwater Horizon blowout (in comments about the Obama oil drilling proposal.) NOAA scientists were quite clearly concerned about the possibility of "large" spills and the lack of adequate preparations.

    And the "highest-priority recommendation of the commission" is also quite interesting:

    Adequately fund the Interior Department so they can effectively enforce the rules and regulations that govern offshore oil and gas drilling.

    It doesn't matter how much funding is provided to those who are charged with enforcing the rules (MMS) if they do not actually enforce those rules.

    Are we really to believe that what the Commission has produced here is an accurate assessment of what actually transpired?

    L Jewett

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