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JONES ACT AND GULF SPILL
Is the Jones Act slowing Gulf Spill clean-up efforts?

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July 16, 2010

Spill commission "lap dogs" slip leash

The presidential commission set up to investigate the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and offshore drilling has been widely criticized as packed with those predisposed to oppose offshore drilling and lacking in technical expertise. Indeed the commission's lack of credibility has been such that the House and Senate have both passed bills that would form a separate bipartisan commission to study the spill, one that would include people with industry experience.

However, after the commission's first visit to the Gulf Coast it looks like the supposed lap dogs have slipped the leash.

Speaking after hearings in New Orleans, the co-chairmen the commission said Tuesday that the testimony thet heard about the economic fallout of President Obama's drilling moratorium has persuaded them to press the administration for a quicker resumption of safe offshore oil exploration.

According to the New Orleans Times Picayune, one of the co-chairs, former EPA chief William Reilly, said he can't understand why more hasn't been done in the past three months to limit the moratorium, which was struck down in federal court, and then reissued Monday.

"I come to this experience with a much greater sense of the economic dislocation being experienced here than I had three days ago," before the commission began hearings in New Orleans, the Times-Picayune reports Reilly as saying at a Tuesday news conference. "It's not clear for me why it should take so long to reassure oneself about (safety) considerations on those rigs."

After testimony from Michael Bromwich, the head of the newly minted Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, that it would take time to make sure safety issues are addressed, Reilly's co-chair, Democratic former Sen. Bob Graham, said he was disturbed by a "disconnect between Washington and the Gulf region about the sense of urgency needed." The Times-Picayune reports him as saying that if the moratorium is a "timeout" to gather information and assurances that drilling can continue, "it's a legitimate question to ask what we're doing to inform ourselves, establish new standards and make a quick judgment."

What seems to have had a major impact on the co-chairs' thinking is testimony by Senator Mary Landrieu. She filled them in not only on the impact of the moratorium but also on the fact that the commission's findings would be a factor in when the moratorium would be lifted.

Platts reports Sen. Graham as saying, after the hearings that one of the commissionŐs main focuses would be on the deepwater moratorium, and that the commission would push to ensure everything was being done to end the moratorium as soon as possible.

Those who would like to keep up the pressure on the commission to do exactly that can find a "share your ideas" page on its website HERE


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