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Obama tasks bipartisan commission with investigating oil spill

President Barack Obama today announced the establishment of a bipartisan National Commission to investigate the oil spill from British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon rig. The rig exploded on April 20 and has since been spewing massive amounts of oil into the Gulf of Mexico seriously endangering its marine life and the coastlands of Louisiana.

As per an executive order signed by the President, the Commission, which will also closely examine the activities the offshore drilling industry, will be co-chaired by former two-term Florida Governor and former Senator Bob Graham and also former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency William Reilly

In essence, the Commission is tasked with “providing recommendations on how we can prevent – and mitigate the impact of – any future spills that result from offshore drilling”. It will focus on the necessary environmental and safety precautions that must be built into regulatory frameworks in order to ensure an accident like “never happens again,” Mr. Obama said in his weekly televised speech.

Emphasising his administrations efforts to contain the spill Mr. Obama said the government has deployed over 1,100 vessels, around 24,000 personnel, and more than 2 million total feet of boom to help contain it. “And we’re doing all we can to assist struggling fishermen, and the small businesses and communities that depend on them,” he noted.

Breakdown of responsibility

Apportioning the blame for the spill between its operators and owners, the President said, “First and foremost, what led to this disaster was a breakdown of responsibility on the part of BP and perhaps others, including Transocean and Halliburton. And we will continue to hold the relevant companies accountable not only for being forthcoming and transparent about the facts surrounding the leak, but for shutting it down, repairing the damage it does.”

He noted, however that even as they continued to hold BP accountable, his administration also needs to hold Washington accountable: “If the laws on our books are inadequate to prevent such an oil spill, or if we didn’t enforce those laws – I want to know it. I want to know what worked and what didn’t work in our response to the disaster, and where oversight of the oil and gas industry broke down.”

Reiterating his earlier criticism of the regulatory framework for the industry he said that there was a “cosy” relationship between oil and gas companies and agencies that regulate them, which has long been a source of concern.

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Printable version | Jul 10, 2020 2:50:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/Obama-tasks-bipartisan-commission-with-investigating-oil-spill/article16303793.ece

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