Issa: Obama Administration’s Assault on Off-Shore Drilling has Exacerbated Oil Spill’s Economic Costs

Published: Apr 19, 2011

WASHINGTON- Tomorrow, April 20, 2011, will be the one year anniversary of the Gulf oil spill. Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued the following statement while conducting field hearings on regulatory impediments to job creation in California:

“One year after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, coastal communities are still dealing with the damage from the disaster.  This damage is not limited to just the tar balls that wash up on shore or the stigma many consumers still have for Gulf seafood, but also the real and harsh effects the Administration’s subsequent assault on off-shore drilling has had on economically vulnerable communities.  This retreat from efforts to achieve energy independence from foreign oil isn’t appreciated by Gulf communities whose local economies depend on off-shore oil production or millions of Americans who find themselves paying $4 gallon for gasoline.  The legacy of this spill should be an increased emphasis on safety, not a full-scale retreat from off-shore energy production.”

The Oversight and Government Reform Committee released a fact sheet on the summarizing the actions over the past year, below.

Deepwater Horizon: One Year Later

April 19, 2011

Background:

  • On April 20, 2010, an explosion on the Transocean-owned Deepwater Horizon rig at the BP Macondo site in the Gulf Coast left the well gushing crude oil and methane gas on the sea floor, killed 11 men, and injured 17 others.
  • In the following 142 days, 4.9 million barrels of crude oil spewed into the ocean.
  • One of three jobs in the Gulf Coast is related to the oil and gas industry.
    • Thousands lost their jobs in related industries, including seafood distribution, fishing, and restaurants

Response:

  • BP was responsible for footing the bill of the entire cleanup and claims process for oil spill victims.
  • US Coast Guard was officially in charge of the national response, collaborating with BP, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the State of Louisiana and local parishes, and thousands of volunteers, among others.
  • At the peak of the cleanup effort, 48,000 people were fighting the oil spill.

Administration’s Actions:

  • In response to the disaster, President Obama issued a 6-month moratorium on all drilling in the Gulf, leading to the loss of thousands of jobs in related industries and significant decrease in the 30% of oil produced domestically.
  • In May 2010, President Obama established the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill  and Offshore Drilling [to examine] the relevant facts and circumstances concerning the “root causes of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and [develop] options to guard against, and mitigate the impact of, any oil spills associated with offshore drilling in the future.”
  • When the moratorium ended in October 2010, the Department of the Interior continued with a de facto moratorium, issuing the first permit approval in February 2011.
  • The Administration appointed Kenneth Feinberg to serve as administrator of The Gulf Coast Claims Facility, in charge of $20 billion escrow fund from BP, to go to victims of the oil spill.

Oversight Actions:

  • Immediately after the oil spill, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released a report entitled, “How the White House Public Relations Campaign on the Oil Spill is Harming the Actual Clean-up,” following an investigation on the Louisiana coast that uncovered evidence that Administration officials have misrepresented key facts including the number of assets dedicated to cleaning up the spill, the timing of when officials knew about the oil leak, the extent to which the federal government has been in control, and the effectiveness of its command structure
  • In late March 2011, investigative staff from the Committee visited the Gulf Coast to follow up on the impacts of the oil spill on the environment, local businesses, the energy industry, tourism, and health problems

Currently:

  • The Oil Spill Commission presented its findings to President Obama in a final report in January 2011.
  • The Department of the Interior has issued ten deepwater drilling permits since the end of the moratorium in October.
  • Twelve rigs have already left the Gulf for other countries, including Egypt and Brazil
  • Gulf Coast energy production is expected to fall by nearly 200,000 barrels per day in 2011 due to Administration imposed de facto moratorium on drilling permits.
  • Currently, Feinberg has allocated $4 billion to oil spill victims, more than 100,000 applications remain unprocessed, and most of the original 800,000 original claims have been denied.
  • While shrimp, crab and fish are expected to rebound this fishing season, consumer confidence has fallen, hurting the businesses of seafood distributors in the Gulf region.
  • To date, tar balls still wash up on Gulf shores.
  • Louisiana loses the equivalent of a football field of coastline every 30 minutes, making it more vulnerable to damage during hurricane season and the loss of diverse habitats and ecosystems.

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Related Documents

Name Document
"How the White House Public Relations Campaign on the Oil Spill is Harming the Actual Clean-up" Document
Oil Spill Commission Final Report Document