Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Final Report Issued by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling
President Obama’s National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling issued its final report regarding its investigation on Tuesday, January 11, 2011. While commentators who have parsed through the 398-page report already provide a variety of interpretations, it is clear that the report provides policies and recommendations that the Commission will be looking to Congress and other federal agencies to support. The Final Report can be reviewed in its entirety on http://www.oilspillcommission.gov/final-report.
“As a result of our investigation, we conclude:
• The explosive loss of the Macondo well could have been prevented.
• The immediate causes of the Macondo well blowout can be traced to a series of
identifiable mistakes made by BP, Halliburton, and Transocean that reveal such
systematic failures in risk management that they place in doubt the safety culture of
the entire industry.
• Deepwater energy exploration and production, particularly at the frontiers of
experience, involve risks for which neither industry nor government has been
adequately prepared, but for which they can and must be prepared in the future.
• To assure human safety and environmental protection, regulatory oversight of
leasing, energy exploration, and production require reforms even beyond those
significant reforms already initiated since the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Fundamental
reform will be needed in both the structure of those in charge of regulatory oversight
and their internal decisionmaking process to ensure their political autonomy,
technical expertise, and their full consideration of environmental protection concerns.
• Because regulatory oversight alone will not be sufficient to ensure adequate safety,
the oil and gas industry will need to take its own, unilateral steps to increase
dramatically safety throughout the industry, including self-policing mechanisms that
supplement governmental enforcement.
• The technology, laws and regulations, and practices for containing, responding to,
and cleaning up spills lag behind the real risks associated with deepwater drilling into
large, high-pressure reservoirs of oil and gas located far offshore and thousands of
feet below the ocean’s surface. Government must close the existing gap and industry
must support rather than resist that effort.
• Scientific understanding of environmental conditions in sensitive environments in
deep Gulf waters, along the region’s coastal habitats, and in areas proposed for more
drilling, such as the
Arctic, is inadequate. The same is true of the human and natural
impacts of oil spills.”
Final Report, Introduction, page vii.