Now, from OnEarth, the NRDC's online journal, here is an excerpt of commentary on the report by one of the Commission members:
NRDC President Frances Beinecke was appointed last June by President Obama to the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. Today the commission delivers its report and recommendations. She discussed them with OnEarth in this exclusive interview.
OE: The commission's job was to investigate what happened in the Gulf and make recommendations on what to do about it. What did you learn that we didn't already know?
FB: Although the American Petroleum Institute would have you believe that this disaster was an anomaly, we actually found something very different. We believe that it's really a systemic problem, that the industry -- although very, very sophisticated -- doesn't have a series of industry-wide operating standards that are based on the best safety practices that are uniform across the industry. There's tremendous variation. Some companies, such as Exxon and Shell, would have you believe that they would never have done this. But there are a lot of companies operating out there in the Gulf that are not nearly as big as they are.
So our recommendation was that the entire industry has to be brought up to the highest safety standards that can be realized. The Interior Department has the primary responsibility for ensuring that happens. But the industry itself has to create a series of standards and literally self-police. That's what the aviation industry does, that's what the nuclear industry does, and one would have assumed that an industry as sophisticated as the oil and gas industry would do that as well. It turns out, they don't.
Did you determine why not?
Because it's a highly competitive industry, a lot of the information is proprietary, so each company designs the well its own way, and they don't want to share that. Also, operating offshore " it's a tough environment out there, and there are a lot of very independent thinkers doing their own thing.
The industry might argue that what you're asking is too difficult or would drive up fuel costs.
The aviation industry does it -- they've been doing it for decades. And why is that? Because the rest of us step on planes all the time, and we want to know that this industry is operating to the highest levels of safety. Otherwise, they wouldn't have passengers. The nuclear industry did it after Three Mile Island. They got together and they realized that there might not be a nuclear industry if they didn't figure this one out, and they created an independent institute that does set these very high standards and reports their findings to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In both the UK and in Norway, offshore oil and gas operations are managed according to this kind of risk-assessment practice that we're recommending. So many of the same companies are already doing it in other countries -- why not here? Isn't this the United States of America? We should have the highest standards of safety. We should be setting the international standard. And it turns out, we're not.Watch the OnEarth Video on this interview:
For the full text of the interview, Click Here