First Oil Spill Commission Meeting Today
The high-level commission charged with determining the cause of the BP oil spill meets for the first time today in New Orleans.
The commission, which is slated to meet today and tomorrow, is expected to make recommendations on how to proceed with a six-month presidential moratorium on new deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. While the moratorium enjoys wide support, some Gulf Coast lawmakers have argued that the moratorium is actually detrimental to the region, citing further job losses. The oil industry, for its part, has been aggressively lobbying Congress and the administration to ratchet back the moratorium.
But the administration has stood by its moratorium, preparing to file in the coming days a second, “legally defensible” moratorium, as one source calls it, to withstand ongoing legal challenges. Last week, a federal appeals court let stand a lower court ruling that found the administration’s six-month moratorium was imposed without adequate legal justification.
The seven-member oil spill commission, which was created by President Obama in May, will make recommendations “on how we can prevent — and mitigate the impact of — any future spills that result from offshore drilling,” according to the White House.
The commission is chaired by former Florida senator and governor Bob Graham and former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator William Reilly.
Republicans and some Democrats have criticized the commission for being biased toward maintaining a moratorium on new deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico; on June 30, the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee passed a Republican amendment to an oil spill response bill that would create a separate commission with the support of five Democrats. The commission includes Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke, who has publicly supported the ban on new deepwater drilling.