Rep. Capps and Rep. Markey call for independent commission to investigate BP oil disaster to “prevent future tragedies.”
Yesterday, Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) announced plans to introduce legislation to create an independent commission to investigate causes of the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Susan Lyon of CAP’s energy team has the story.
As CAP had proposed, such an independent commission should be appointed to “completely examine the causes of the BP disaster and offer guidance for how we can make sure it never happens again.” Now, two leaders in Congress are calling for just that.
Just as President Carter called for a commission after the Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown, and President Reagan as well after the Challenger Space Shuttle explosion, Reps. Capps and Markey are now calling for an independent, non-partisan, “blue-ribbon” commission that would enable investigators to look into both causes of the BP disaster and recommendations to prevent future tragedies. Its goal would be to provide recommendations to both Congress and the administration on steps to take to prevent future oil catastrophes.
Rep. Capps warned:
As 200,000 gallons of oil per day continue to spill into the Gulf Mexico, it’s becoming painfully clear that the economic, ecological and public health effects of this spill could dwarf any environmental disaster in our nation’s history. But this disaster will be all the more tragic if we fail to learn from it.
The BP Deepwater Horizon explosion, which has already resulted in 11 lost lives, is quickly becoming the worst oil disaster in U.S. history. It may already be surpassing the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in terms of its magnitude and damage to our public health, economy, and environment.
Today, Rep. Markey, chair of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, will also be leading a “Bi-partisan Congressional Delegation investigatory visit to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill” to Louisiana to speak with local officials and people affected by the spill. Rep. Markey has also been coordinating briefings and hearings with BP, Transocean, Halliburton, and other involved spokespeople.
Though the Obama administration and local Gulf officials have acted quickly, history has taught that no amount of clean up effort will ever be able to fully reverse the spill of hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil into the ocean. The legacy of Exxon Valdez still lingers today; Dr. Jeffrey Short of Oceana testified in a 2009 hearing that:
Despite heroic efforts involving more than 11,000 people, 2 billion dollars, and aggressive application of the most advanced technology available, only about 8 percent of the oil was ever recovered. This recovery rate is fairly typical rate for a large oil spill. About 20 percent evaporated, 50 percent contaminated beaches, and the rest floated out to the North Pacific Ocean where it formed tarballs that eventually stranded elsewhere or sank to the seafloor.
Furthermore, the dispersants that BP is pouring into the ocean to disperse the oil gushing from the well may well make the situation worse. This legacy reminds us that prevention of such disasters is the only true cure. President Obama or Congress should create an independent commission as soon as possible to determine what caused this tragedy, which is the first step to ensure that such a disaster never happens again.