Administration and Industry Making Progress, Congress Lags Washington, D.C.

(Washington, D.C. – April 17, 2013)  –While federal agencies and the industry have continued to advance the safety of offshore oil drilling, Congressional action is slow in coming. This difference is reflected in the grades the former members of the national oil spill commission assigned in the report card released today tracking how the nation is doing in implementing the recommendations they made more than two years ago. The Administration received a grade of B, industry a B- and Congress a D+.

After the Commission concluded its work, the 7 commissioners established a new organization, Oil Spill Commission Action, to monitor progress in implementing the recommendations in the Commission’s report, DEEP WATER: THE GULF OIL DISASTER AND THE FUTURE OF OFFSHORE DRILLING (January 2011) and to encourage speedier action when implementation is lagging. This is their second report card evaluating progress.

“I am pleased to report that we are seeing continuing progress implementing the Commission’s recommendations.” said Bob Graham, co-chair of the President’s commission. “Because of actions taken by the Administration and by industry, we can say with confidence that offshore drilling is safer than it was 3 years ago. That doesn’t mean that there will not be another incident; this is a risky business. But we do see real progress. Our major concern is that, though Congress did pass the RESTORE Act to provide resources for Gulf coast restoration, on other critical reforms Congress has done little.”

“Not only is drilling safer, but the ability to respond effectively to spills that do occur has been significantly improved.” said William Reilly, the other Commission co-chair. “There are now four well capping systems located in the Gulf of Mexico and more than a dozen are positioned around the world. Three years ago there were none. Industry has taken to heart the lessons of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. But there is still a great deal to be done” Reilly added.

Congress has failed to codify the safety improvements the Commission recommended. Nor has it taken action to raise the existing limit on the liability a company faces when it causes a spill or to increase the resources available to the government to respond to a spill.

“The one major action Congress took this past year is to adopt the RESTORE Act that establishes a special program to restore the Gulf’s degraded ecosystems.” said Don Boesch, one of the Commissioners. “Given that there are several sources of funds contributing to Gulf restoration, and thus many players with a say on restoration projects, we are very concerned that this program be carried out efficiently, effectively, and expeditiously, with proper scientific advice.” He added, “This will be our primary focus over the coming year, to ensure as much as possible the funds are used to restore degraded natural resources, which are critical to the Gulf coast economy.”

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11 members of the crew and spewing millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf damaging natural resources and the Gulf coast economy.

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 on the organization’s web site, ##

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