While there is reason to be optimistic, the fact is Congress has not yet passed key legislation that will dedicate fines from the BP oil disaster for coastal recovery and protection.
Members of the former federal Oil Spill Commission reconvened under the auspices of the Walton Family Foundation to assess progress in the two years since the deadly explosion and giant oil leak.
The experts gave the Obama administration a “B” letter grade, industry a “C-plus” and Congress a more critical “D” for their regulatory responses. The latter is occasioned by the slow nature of congressional processes. The body “has yet to enact any legislation responding to the explosion and spill,” the commission members said.
The commission was co-chaired by former Democratic Florida Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham and former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator William Reilly, who held the post under former President George H.W. Bush.
The initial federal report by the commission, issued in February 2011, said BP ignored warning signs of problems on its doomed oil rig, failed to adequately oversee partners in the operation and fostered a chaotic management style that added to poor decisions prior to the blast.
As the Louisiana delegation in Congress has been working in a bipartisan fashion on the dedication of fines, there is good reason for optimism on that legislative response to the oil spill. Both House and Senate have passed versions of the dedication language pushed by Louisiana’s delegation and others from the Gulf Coast.
We hope that this deficiency will soon be corrected. If there is no action, billions of the potential fines will go to the U.S. Treasury. Under the legislation backed by Louisiana lawmakers, 80 percent of fines would go to the five affected Gulf states.
This is a huge deal for our state, as Louisiana was the most affected by the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill two years ago. We commend our delegation for the work so far, and hope that the dedication legislation becomes law soon.
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