The most important new message contained in the final report of the presidential commission investigating the gulf oil spill is aimed squarely at Congress: If lawmakers hope to win popular support for ramped-up oil drilling in America’s coastal waters then they must make sure that every possible precaution is taken to reduce the chances of another catastrophe like the spill.Some recommendations include Safety, Liability, and Restoration, among others. At least this is a start. The rest is HERE.
The question is whether the newly constituted Congress is in a mood to listen. What the commission is asking for are tough new rules and money to strengthen federal oversight at a time when the House is controlled by politicians who broadly oppose new spending and seem hostile to regulation of any sort.
Yet Congress must act, and President Obama should use some of what leverage he has in this new political alignment to see that it does. As the commission co-chairman, Bob Graham, noted, without dramatic action another deep-water disaster will inevitably occur, leaving the public to “wonder why Congress, the administration and industry stood by and did nothing.”
The commission’s 380-page report is the most exhaustive accounting so far of what happened on the Deepwater Horizon. As it forecast in a preliminary summary, the commission blames the accident largely on poor decisions and other “management failures” by three companies involved: BP, Transocean and Halliburton.
It also strongly reinforces its earlier indictments of industry for failing to prepare adequate response plans and of government regulators for allowing themselves to be captured by an industry they were meant to oversee.