Oil Commission Report Released
Washington, Jan 11 -
A bill proposed by Congresswoman Kathy Castor would direct the bulk of the penalties to be paid by BP for the Deepwater Horizon disaster to the economic and environmental recovery of the Gulf Coast. That is in line with a recommendation made today by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, co-chaired by former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham of Florida.
Castor’s bill, first filed in the last session of Congress, would direct 80 percent of the fines and penalties to be paid by BP for violations of the Clean Water Act to the restoration of the Gulf Coast. The fines and penalties cannot, under current law, be devoted to Gulf recovery unless Congress provides that specific direction.
“The Commission’s recommendation is a sound one – and one I already have outlined in the Gulf of Mexico Economic and Environmental Restoration Act. We must dedicate 80 percent of the Clean Water Act penalties to long-term restoration of the Gulf coast,” Castor said. “The Gulf of Mexico is an environmental and economic gem that was tragically affected by the oil disaster. We must continue to battle the perception problem that continues to haunt hotels, motels and Florida seafood. And taxpayers cannot be on the hook for one dime of this disaster’s damage. The fines collected must go directly to restoring our coast.”
According to the commission’s report, the maximum civil penalties under the Clean Water Act could range from $4.5 billion to $21 billion. The amount will be based on the number of barrels of oil spilled and whether there was negligence.
“It has always appeared to me that negligence was a factor,” Castor said. “As the report states, ‘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.’ If negligence is found, that could result in more money being dedicated to restoring the Gulf.”
Castor continued: “This type of systemic failure in the oil industry and its regulators further proves that the Obama Administration was right to announce last month what my neighbors in the Tampa Bay area and I have always maintained - no new drilling should be allowed in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. We should never permit drilling even one mile closer to our beautiful shores.”
Castor also applauded Sen. Graham and co-chair William Reilly for their report.
“Sen. Graham and Mr. Reilly are to be commended for their evenhanded, painstaking and thorough work to get to the root causes of the oil disaster and to make strong recommendations for improvement. Unfortunately, the report confirms what we have suspected: This tragedy could have been avoided. The commission sharply criticized BP, Halliburton and Transocean, as well as the U.S. Department of Interior. I agree with Sen. Graham and Mr. Reilly that we need stricter oversight of the oil industry and that the oil industry be held accountable for this preventable disaster.”