Commission Frustrated With Congressional Inaction

A do-nothing Congress stands in the way of progress in the Gulf.Today is the first of two days for the final meeting of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. The seven Commissioners are meeting to discuss in detail their preliminary findings on the causes of the BP/Deepwater Horizon disaster and recommendations to guard against and mitigate the impacts of future spills.Cochairman Bob Graham, a former U.S. Senator from Florida, has been expressing throughout the day his frustration with Congress’s overall disengagement with addressing the disaster. In his opening comments, he spoke about his frustration with the Senate’s unwillingness to grant the Commission subpoena power, which would have allowed the Commission to call witnesses to testify under oath. The House of Representatives twice passed legislation that would have granted subpoena power.Later, he lightly chastised a staff member who was presenting findings when the staffer seemed to him to be tempering the strength of the recommendations based on the likelihood that stronger ideas would probably not pass Congress. He suggested that their job was not to make only palatable recommendations but to get to the unbiased root of the matter.His fellow cochair, Bill Reilly, the head of the EPA under the first President Bush, directed his barbs at the industry, arguing that the nation’s largest environmental disaster was preventable, but preconditioned by slipshod management and a lack of sufficient care and vigilance by BP, Halliburton and Transocean.The entire meeting is available live and archived at and on the Commission website.Johanna F. Polsenberg is GRN’s Washington representative, and follows BP disaster response efforts in the nation’s capital.

Scroll to Top