Oil spill report: What the papers say

Now we’ve all had a day to digest the 300+ pages of the National Commission’s report into the BP oil spill, it’s worth taking a look at what the reaction has been from the wise old heads of the print and online media.

First up, the FT’s Sylvia Pfeifer points out how badly US regulation compares to that in other countries:

One of the most damning conclusions of the national commission report was that other countries with strong offshore oil industries, including Britain and Norway, had better regulatory systems than the US.

Where the US Minerals Management Service was clearly not fit for purpose, other countries – often prompted by their own offshore disasters – have put in place regulations that seem to have been more effective at preventing fatal accidents.

The New York Times’ editorial agrees with this finding, saying:

If lawmakers hope to win popular support for ramped-up oil drilling in America’s coastal waters then they must make sure that every possible precaution is taken to reduce the chances of another catastrophe like the spill.

But it points out this report is by no means the end of the saga:

The question is whether the newly constituted Congress is in a mood to listen. What the commission is asking for are tough new rules and money to strengthen federal oversight at a time when the House is controlled by politicians who broadly oppose new spending and seem hostile to regulation of any sort.

What might happen next is also a question on the minds of those at Politico:

Graham said that he and his panel told the president yesterday that they believe he could take action on a “substantial amount” of the report’s recommendations without going through Congress. Among their suggestions: levying a fee structure that would charge companies more the riskier the particular project, and requiring companies to convince those handing out the leases that the drillers would be ready to respond to a spill or other major accident.

But they also point out:

Creating a new independent safety agency within Interior is one of several of the panel’s suggestions that requires congressional action. But that idea seems unlikely to garner much support from House Republicans, particularly those new members wearing their Small Government letter jackets.

Andrew Restuccia at the Hill’s E2 Wire blog has noticed that the oil industry is already shaping up for a fight:

The American Petroleum Institute, the country’s most powerful oil-and-gas industry trade group, said the commission unfairly criticizes the entire oil industry even though the report focuses solely on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. “This does a great disservice to the thousands of men and women who work in the industry and have the highest personal and professional commitment to safety,” API Upstream Director Erik Milito said in a statement.

Dina Cappiello and Matthew Daly of AP have spotted similar war signals from the opposite side:

The 380-page report provides an opening for Democrats to rekindle legislative efforts that failed after last year’s oil spill.

Whatever happens in Congeress and in the White House from here, it seems that we may not have heard the last from the Commission itself, as Fuel Fix points out:

The commission already described the final hours on the rig in Chapter Four of its report, which was released last week. But Reilly said that narrative will be expanded.

“One (report) will be an expansion of chapter four, which is the details with respect to the rig, what happened on the night of April 20 and the events leading up to it, which (includes) significant new evidence,” Reilly said.

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