The report by the National Oil Spill Commission, appointed by President Barak Obama to investigate the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, America's worst environmental disaster, has until 15 Dec to produce a definitive account of the causes for the blowout and fire at the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on 20 Apr. It will also be expected to recommend ways to prevent a repeat. The ongoing revelations from the hearings, which began on 12 Jul, are likely to help shape new safety and oversight legislation.
The explosion and fire on the rig, owned by Transocean Ltd. and leased by BP PLC, which is in charge of cleanup and containment, killed 11 workers. Oil has poured into the Gulf from the undersea well. In July, the leak was capped, but the risk of leakage remains. The opening days of the commission's public hearing in New Orleans on the Gulf Coast, probed the interaction between BP and Transocean, the operator of the doomed rig. The probe revealed a conflict between safety and meeting schedules, with each side blaming the other for the blowout. The panel is also probing the impact of the disaster. The Christian Science Monitor points out that the bill is likely to contain language that forces everyone from the oil companies to regulators to toe a tougher line. Winning the right to drill for oil offshore is expected to get tougher, and it is anticipated that federal regulators will be subject to new checks and balances to ensure transparency and competence. (Written and posted Jul 2010)
Date written/update: 2010-12-14