Making the Gulf Coast Whole Again: Assessing the Recovery Efforts of BP and the Obama Administration After the Oil Spill

Witness and Testimony Documents
Governor of the State of Mississippi
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement
U.S. Department of Interior
President
St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana
Commissioner of Gulf County
Florida
Director of Energy and Science Issues
Government Accountability Office
President
Offshore Towing, Inc.
June 02, 2011,

Chairman Darrell Issa Hearing Preview Statement

Thursday’s hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, entitled “Making the Gulf Coast Whole Again: Assessing Recovery Efforts of BP and the Obama Administration After the Oil Spill,” will focus on the economic hardships and other issues still facing the Gulf Coast community one year after the Deepwater Horizon disaster.  By examining the disaster response of both BP and the Obama administration, the committee will seek to understand the root causes of the slow pace of recovery and consider what is needed to help affected residents and industries going forward.

Since the first moments after the spill, the Committee launched an aggressive oversight effort to monitor the coordinated relief and recovery efforts of BP and the Obama administration.  For more than a year now, the Committee has conducted an investigation into the efficiency, adequacy, and accuracy of the federal response.  Committee investigators have interviewed more than 50 government officials, scores of residents, business owners, and whistleblowers.

The mosaic of evidence presents a troubling picture: much of the suffering and loss from the spill was made worse by the poor decisions of administration officials.  At times, the administration actively hindered the efforts of local officials and others with expertise in protecting the region’s fragile ecosystem.  Throughout, the administration appeared more concerned about protecting its own media profile and avoiding any direct responsibility for recovery efforts than it did about protecting the jobs and livelihoods of millions of Americans living in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.

When the administration did act, its major accomplishment was a hasty bureaucratic reorganization instead of an economic and coastland recovery.  In the wake of the BP oil spill, the administration hurriedly restructured the long-defunct Minerals Management Service into three separate regulatory agencies, ignoring previous recommendations from both the Government Accountability Office and Congressional committees that had studied the matter in depth for years.  Moreover, the administration wasted no time in effectively shutting offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the consequence of which has been a paralyzing loss of jobs in an already weak economy.

Thursday, the Committee will hear from local officials – including Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour – and various industry experts about recovery failures, and the Committee will explore reforms to government policy and strategic federal aid proposals that promise to make the Gulf Coast whole again.