Oil Spill Report Demands Action
Today, nearly nine months after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the Presidentially-appointed National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling released a comprehensive analysis on the causes and lessons learned from the BP oil disaster. The Commission report - over 300 pages based on months of investigation into an event that killed 11 men and set off the worst environmental justice disaster of our time - tells a powerful tale of an under-regulated industry run amok, the catastrophic consequences of a failed safety and regulatory system, and the overwhelming need to learn and act on the lessons of this disaster.
The report encompasses recommendations and insights from a wide variety of voices, and the message is undeniable: the oil industry is simply not equipped to self-regulate to prevent disaster or adequately respond when mistakes happen, and it's time for Congress and the Administration to act to protect workers, the environment and the livelihood of the Gulf Coast.
There is plenty of blame to go around to industry, government and individual actors, but the bottom line is that the report will mean little if it simply sits on a shelf forever. That's why we are joining the Commission in urging Congress and the Administration to enact key reforms to ensure such a disaster can never happen again: improving safety and oversight through continued reorganization of the agencies that regulate oil permits and production; dedicating resources to environmental restoration across the Gulf Coast (a goal endorsed by leading environmental groups); raising the liability cap to ensure that oil companies are financially responsible for their mistakes; and creating a Regional Citizen's Advisory Council to empower Gulf Coast citizens to have a voice in the future development of their resources. You can take action today to support these recommendations too!
As the Commission concludes, "The blowout was not the product of a series of aberrational decisions made by rogue industry or government officials that could not have been anticipated or expected to occur again. Rather, the root causes are systemic and, absent significant reform in both industry practices and government policies, might well recur." To not act in the face of such a conclusion is simply inexcusable.
Commissioner (and President of the Natural Resources Defense Council) Frances Beinecke puts it best: "...the recommendations in the commission's report can help prevent or prepare for another deepwater disaster. But only if we turn these recommendations into concrete change. And we must do it soon, because the painful impacts of this spill persist. Nine months have passed since the blowout, and the rest of the nation has returned to business as usual, but I can assure you that many in the Gulf have not."
For too long, the Gulf has been our "energy sacrifice zone," as one advocate explained in response to the report. The Commission - an independent group comprised of experts from all political backgrounds - is the perfect voice to call on our government to respond to this disaster. We need to invest in restoring the Gulf and ensuring a safer energy future for us all. If not now, when?