Tumblr Icon RSS Icon

Breaking: Obama to establish presidential commission to investigate the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico

Posted on  

"Breaking: Obama to establish presidential commission to investigate the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico"

Share:

google plus icon

On May 4, Daniel J. Weiss, CAP’s Director of Climate Strategy, wrote, “We need an independent commission to investigate the BP disaster.”  Now Weiss reports that the White House is doing just that.  As hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil continue to gush from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico four weeks after the tragic BP disaster, AP reports that

President Barack Obama will establish the commission by executive order. It will be similar to panels created to investigate the space shuttle Challenger disaster and the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of a public announcement.

The New York Times reports

The president will create the panel by executive order “in coming days,” a White House official said. “The commission will take into account the investigations underway concerning the causes of the spill and explore a range of issues including: industry practices; rig safety; Federal, state, and local regulatory regimes; federal governmental oversight, including the structure and functions of M.M.S.; and environmental review and other protections,” the official said, requesting anonymity to discuss the matter in advance of the presidential announcement.

An hour ago White House sources indicated to CAP that an official announcement about this executive order could occur on Tuesday or Wednesday.

In addition to the horrible loss of eleven lives on the now sunken Deepwater Horizon oil rig, the BP oil disaster could be the most devastating environmental disaster to ever befall the United States.  To understand what caused this oil nightmare, in early May CAP proposed that President Obama appoint appoint “an independent commission to completely examine the causes of the BP disaster and offer guidance for how we can make sure it never happens again.

This would enable investigators to conduct an independent assessment of the causes of the disaster, and determine the responsibilities born by BP, Transocean, and Halliburton. An independent inquiry would also be able to determine whether the Minerals Management Service of the Department of Interior fulfilled its oversight duties.

Representatives Lois Capps (D-CA) and Ed Markey (D-MA), introduced the “BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Inquiry Commission Act of 2010,” H.R. 5241.  Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) have a companion proposal.  These measures would create a bipartisan independent commission to investigate the BP oil disaster.

Rather than wait for legislation, Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan used executive orders to create independent commissions to investigate the near nuclear meltdown at Three Mile Island nuclear plant and the Challenger Space Shuttle accident.  The orders were signed two and one week after these events, respectively, and the panels completed their work six months and three months after the events.

These were discrete incidents, while the BP oil disaster is an ongoing event so it may take longer to investigate and draw conclusions about the causes and damages.  By using an executive order, President Obama can get this inquiry started much more quickly than by waiting for Congress to pass legislation.  This will enable investigators to question witnesses while their memories are still fresh, and promptly order BP, Transocean, and Halliburton to preserve all relevant communications and documents.

– Dan Weiss

« »

9 Responses to Breaking: Obama to establish presidential commission to investigate the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico

  1. Wit's End says:

    “In addition to the horrible loss of eleven lives on the now sunken Deepwater Horizon oil rig, the BP oil disaster could be the most devastating environmental disaster to ever befall the United States.”

    NO. The most devastating environmental disaster has preceded this oil spill by several decades. It is the poisoning of our atmosphere with toxic emissions – not just CO2, which all by itself is enough to destroy a habitable climate – but with the “other” greenhouse gases, the volatile organic compounds that form ozone.

    Ozone is destructively causing emphysema, asthma and cancer. Who knows what role it plays in the declining populations of birds, bees, bats, lizards, and other creatures?

    Possibly even worse, ozone is damaging vegetation. We all rely on plant crops for food, and trees as the foundation of our ecosystem.

    Even the EPA, riddled with Bush-era corporatist moles, has reams of links to research that indicate, we humans are confronted with an EXISTENTIAL threat.

    http://www.witsendnj.blogspot.com

  2. catman306 says:

    National Geographic:
    Gulf Oil Leaks Could Gush for Years
    (If BP can’t seal the well)
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/05/100513-science-environment-gulf-oil-spill-cap-leak/

  3. Phil Chanfrau says:

    I am an earnest follower of your website and have recommended it to my children and colleagues as a must read. I strongly urge you to reframe your issue. Instead of “global warming” wouldn’t you be better off arguing against dirty air? Who could possibly be in favor of breathing dirty air? The end result would be the same and it would be a lot easier to get people on your side.

    On the lighter side, I saw a cute cartoon recently: Save the Earth. It’s the only place with Chocolate.

    Keep up your excellent work and congratulations on your award…

  4. SecularAnimist says:

    You wrote: “… in early May CAP proposed that President Obama appoint appoint an independent commission to completely examine the causes of the BP disaster and offer guidance for how we can make sure it never happens again.”

    It is important to “completely examine the causes of the BP disaster” to establish culpability for this particular incident, since there is a prima facie case that there were criminal acts involved and the perpetrators should be charged, prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned.

    But we already know “how we can make sure it never happens again.” We need to end all offshore oil drilling as fast as possible.

    Unfortunately, the mission of this commission will be to perpetuate offshore oil drilling, by perpetuating the false belief that it can be done “safely”.

  5. Chris Dudley says:

    #4,

    I agree that the commission may see its mission as making offshore drilling safer. If the president does not specifically ask it to consider ending offshore drilling, then it will be doing so in an automatic way. Thus, for thoroughness, part of the remit should be to consider an end to offshore drilling as a potential recommendation. Testimony should be taken from everyone who is in a position to say “I told you so” including, for example, the Sierra Club, and committee membership should include people who can assess ecosystem damage and who have a broad view of the energy situation. People from the Union of Concerned Scientists might be good picks. Oil industry boosters should be avoided as members of the committee. There will be many excuses presented in testimony, we don’t need them in deliberations as well.

  6. Raul says:

    Me, well I remember back in the 70′s there was some talk in the newspapers about something called a red tide. Seems that even though I didn’t learn much about it then, some did. I hope that more of the truth will become known about the life cycle of the red tide and other consequent effects of the oil being free in the gulf. Like , what does the red tide turn into?

  7. Leif says:

    What does a red tide turn into? #6 A red tide is just an algae bloom of single celled plants. Individually they have a limited life span, die, sink to the bottom and rot. In high enough density or area that rotting takes oxygen out of the water, the same oxygen that fish and other higher life forms breath, and thus lower the oxygen level to the point of suffocation to all life forms that use oxygen. There are microbes that do thrive in low oxygen levels and they do quite well but tend to be unappetizing.

  8. jcwinnie says:

    And, speaking of chocolate and bunnies and puppies…

    “Hey, you got your white wash in my green wash.”

    “You got your green wash in my white wash.”

  9. mike roddy says:

    If this commission is going to be “bipartisan”, it will be impossible to eliminate or even modify oil industry influence on the conclusions. The Republican Party and fossil fuel companies are joined at the hip. This means that at the very least there will be moderating or strong dissenting voices from those promoting the business as usual that created this nightmare.

    NAS has an engineering arm. They should be the ones in charge, not design engineers, or we will have some of the same types of people who designed the rigs in charge of the investigation. Alternatively, top people from NAS may well conclude (as a physicist friend of mine has) that hydraulic systems always leak, even more so in systems of great complexity that are operating under pressure. That means stop baby stop.

    The president’s choices for this panel will be a good test of his ability to govern. If he splits the difference we will end up with something like the Senate, whose dysfunction is caused by basic corruption, not governance per se.