AP NewsBreak: Spill commission calls for reform

AP NewsBreak: Spill commission calls for reform
Monday, January 10, 2011 - 6:26pm

WASHINGTON — Despite reforms put in place since the massive BP oil spill, a presidential investigating panel has concluded that the government and the oil industry still haven't done enough to avert another catastrophic accident offshore.

The blowout and rig explosion last April that killed 11 workers and released more than 200 million gallons of oil from the damaged well have prompted changes in the oil industry and at the agency in charge of offshore drilling. But the national oil spill commission will suggest an even greater commitment and overhaul from Congress, the administration and oil and gas companies when it issues its final report Tuesday to President Barack Obama, said an official who was briefed on the report but not authorized to speak about it publicly.

Among the commission's recommendations: increased budgets and training for the federal agency that regulates offshore drilling; increasing the liability cap for companies drilling offshore; dedicating 80 percent of fines and penalties from the BP spill to environmental restoration in the Gulf; and lending more weight to scientific advice in government decisions about where to permit oil and gas leasing.

Many of the report's conclusions were previewed in earlier discussions by the panel, and at least one — the suggestion that water pollution fines be used to pay for Gulf Coast restoration — has been endorsed by the president. For that to occur, Congress would have to pass legislation.

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