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Jan. 11, 2011  

Oil Spill Commission’s Report Highlights Need for Oversight, Safety and Citizen Input in Gulf Drilling

Statement of Tyson Slocum, Director, Public Citizen’s Energy Program

The chapter of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling’s report released last week regarding the root causes of the Deepwater Horizon explosion confirms Public Citizen’s long held criticisms of the oil industry.

The commission cited failure of management and an industry culture that puts profits over safety as key causes of the explosion that killed 11 workers and resulted in the dumping of five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Today, the commission presented the remainder of its findings, coupled with recommendations aimed at mitigating the effects of the spill and ensuring that a crisis of this magnitude does not happen again. Public Citizen applauds the commission’s diligence in providing a comprehensive array of reforms that adequately address and characterize the regulatory and funding gaps surrounding oil and gas activities and Gulf restoration.

We can no longer afford to have oil companies calling the shots on energy policy. Increasing offshore drilling will do little to lower prices and would only further jeopardize the safety of workers and the environment unless significant changes are made. We support the commission’s efforts to bolster safety and environmental standards and commend the commission’s commitment to restoring the Gulf region.

In a document released today, Public Citizen compiled the preliminary recommendations presented by the commission staff last month, and where applicable, compared those to administrative actions that have been taken and reforms passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in August - reforms that died when the congressional session ended in December. The Obama administration and the experts on the commission agree about the changes needed to both make the industry more accountable and to safeguard workers and the environment from the dangers posed by oil and gas drilling. 

Public Citizen applauds the commission for emphasizing the need to solicit citizen input in the restoration process and ensure citizen oversight of oil and gas activities. We also are pleased that the commission supports the use of fines generated by Clean Water Act violations for ecological recovery and restoration in the Gulf.

Now, to save lives, the environment and the Gulf economy, Congress must take up and pass the previous session’s House bill and adopt the commission’s recommendations.

Note: For Public Citizen’s analysis of the commission’s recommendations, go to http://www.citizen.org/documents/OSCRecommendations.pdf.

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