National Commission on BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill releases final report

[JURIST] The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill[official website] released its full final report [text] on Tuesday, tracing the deeper root causes of the spill and recommending steps to avoid future incidents. The report highlights mistakes made by British Petroleum (BP), as well as its partners Haliburton and Transocean [corporate websites], as the starting point that allowed the spill to take place, and finishes with recommendations based on those oversights. The recommendations include instituting fees for off-shore drilling leases that would help to fund a safety agency within the Department of the Interior (DOI) [official website] for the regulation of off-shore drilling. In addition, the commission advises the creation of a safety institute lead by the oil industry that can more closely regulate those practices. The commissioners conceded that they can not prevent another oil spill from occurring, "but when exploration occurs, particularly in sensitive environments like the Gulf of Mexico or the Arctic, the country has an obligation to make responsible decisions regarding the benefits and risks". Several law-makers have stated that they will commence legislation based on these recommendations. Halliburton has rejected [press release] the report's findings, saying that the commission had "selectively omitted information provided to it" by the company and had relied on false assumptions about cement testing.

The report comes as another count against BP's practices leading up to the spill. In December, The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] filed suit [JURIST report] Wednesday against units of (BP) and several other companies over the April Deepwater Horizon oil spill [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The government's lawsuit is one of hundreds filed against BP and other companies in connection with the oil spill. In August, the US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation [official website] selected Judge Carl Barbier [FJC profile] to hear [JURIST report] more than 300 such lawsuits. Also that month, BP and the DOJ announced the completion of negotiations over the implementation of a $20 billion fund [JURIST reports] to aid victims of the oil spill. The report recommends that 80% of these funds collected go to restoration efforts in the Gulf of Mexico.

 

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