Our friends at Oceana just released a report card assessing the efforts by government and industry to improve the safety of offshore oil and gas operations and safeguard the environment. The result, despite some clear recommendations by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling and the National Academy of Engineering, is all Ds and Fs.
The President’s Gulf Oil Spill Commission also put out a report card. They were quite a bit more generous (after all, would you give yourself a failing grade?), but their grades are still less than stellar, ranging from B to D.
The report slams Congress’ failure to implement a range of recommendations made in the commission’s January 2011 report. Those include ensuring dependable resources for federal agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, raising the oil spill liability cap significantly and codifying the changes to the Interior Department’s regulatory structure designed to eliminate conflicts of interest.
The House is going in the wrong direction, passing several bills to fast-track drilling that “run contrary” to steps that panel members warn are necessary to ensure safe production of oil and gas.
“Although the administration and industry have made significant progress, Congress has not,” said Bob Graham, one of the commission’s co-chairs. “Two years have passed since the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon killed 11 workers, and Congress has yet to enact one piece of legislation to make drilling safer.”
The only recommendation Congress is close to implementing is a proposal to dedicate 80 percent of the Clean Water Act penalties paid by BP to environmental restoration in the Gulf of Mexico. Even so, only the Senate has passed such a plan, and the House’s proposal is slightly different.