But Not All. Urge Congress to Act on Key Recommendations

(Washington, D.C. – April 17, 2012) Progress is evident in implementing safety and environmental reforms in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. But progress is not universal. Congress, in particular, needs to pass legislation implementing measures only they can. This is the reading of the seven members of President Obama’s national oil spill commission, who today issued their first assessment of the progress government and industry have made in implementing the commission’s recommendations directed at making offshore oil drilling safer.

After the Commission concluded its work, Commissioners established a new organization, Oil Spill Commission Action, to monitor the progress in implementing recommendations in its report, DEEP WATER:  THE GULF OIL DISASTER AND THE FUTURE OF OFFSHORE DRILLING (January 2011) and to encourage speedier action where implementation is lagging.  The report card is the first product of their effort.

“We are encouraged by the progress being made, particularly by the Department of Interior and industry, in adopting our recommendations to improve safety and environmental protection.” said William K. Reilly, co-chair of the President’s Commission.  “Significant progress has also been made in industry’s ability to respond to spills that do occur.  For instance, there are two new corporations in place in the Gulf of Mexico with capping stacks ready for deployment if a well were to experience a blowout.  When the Macondo well blew out, there were none.”

 “Although the Administration and industry have made significant progress, Congress has not.”  said Bob Graham the other Commission co-chair.  “Across the board, we are disappointed with Congress’s lack of action.  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.”

In other areas on which the Commission focused its attention, the assessment concludes there has been less progress.   For instance, although the primary regulatory agencies have benefited from budget increases for the past two years, Congress has taken no action to provide the sustained and adequate funding the Commission concluded was essential.  The assessment also questions whether preparations made for drilling in the Arctic are sufficient.

Don Boesch, a Commission member pointed out that the “The only legislation that is close to being implemented  would dedicate, as the Commission recommended, 80 percent of the penalties paid by BP and other parties under the Clean Water Act to long term restoration of the Gulf’s ecosystem.  But even here, Congress seems to have stalled.” 

Biographies of the Commission members and a description of the process used in preparing the assessment, along with the Commission’s report and other background materials, can be found at the organization’s web site,