Editor's Note: This article is excerpted directly from National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, "Deep Water: The Gulf Oil Spill and the Future of Offshore Drilling: Recommendations," January 2011. It has been edited only to conform to the Encyclopedia's style guidelines.
The President asked the Commission to “develop options for guarding against, and mitigating the impact of, oil spills associated with offshore drilling”1 in recognition of the compelling need to balance the nation’s interest in offshore energy resources with protection of our rich marine and coastal environments. To that end, the Commission’s full report details the complex web of decisions, actions, and circumstances that set the stage for the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster. Among the chief actors in that web was the government itself, which played a key role both in setting the policies that shaped offshore oil and gas activities in the Gulf over the course of many decades, and in overseeing responses to the spill once it began.
This report presents the Commission’s complete recommendations for addressing the causes and consequences of the spill. The recommendations reflect the government’s sweeping sovereign authority as both owner of the seabed and water column and as the regulator of activities, with the overriding responsibility to manage and protect the valuable resources of the outer continental shelf (OCS) on behalf of current and future generations of Americans. They are grouped in nine distinct areas:
- Improving the Safety of Offshore Operations: Government’s Role
- Improving the Safety of Offshore Operations: Industry’s Role
- Safeguarding the Environment
- Strengthening Oil Spill Response, Planning, and Capacity
- Advancing Well-Containment Capabilities
- Overcoming the Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Spill and Restoring the Gulf
- Ensuring Financial Responsibility
- Promoting Congressional Engagement to Ensure Responsible Offshore Drilling
- Moving to Frontier Regions
The sections that follow summarize the context and rationale for each of the Commission’s specific recommendations. The commission’s full report, as well as staff working papers published by the Commission, provide additional detail and further support for the recommendations.
1 Exec. Order No. 13543, 75 Fed. Reg. 29,397 (May 21, 2010).
- Deep Water: The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling: Recommendations from the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling