In its final report on last year’s BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the presidential panel investigating the disaster is calling for tougher regulation, stiffer fines and an industry-managed information exchange on safety practices.
The Washington Post reports that the commission pressed for greater funding and training for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, including the creation of an independent safety office within the agency.
“I am sad to say that part of the answer is the fact that our government helped let it happen,” said former Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., one of the commission’s two co-chairmen. “Our regulators were consistently outmatched.”
The report, released Tuesday, also recommended the establishment of an information clearinghouse to be run by the oil industry, modeled on the Institute for Nuclear Power Operations. The institute was set up in the aftermath of the Three Mile Island disaster to encourage nuclear power companies to exchange best practices.
Additionally, the report suggested tougher fines. Currently, the cap on a firm’s liability following an oil spill is $75 million, though BP disregarded the limit in making payouts following the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The commission said that 80 percent of the fines levied for the April spill should be devoted to environmental restoration.
The Deepwater Horizon explosion killed 11 oil rig workers and turned into the the largest oil spill in U.S. history.