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Project on Government Oversight

BP Oil Spill Bills Revive the Reforms Needed to Prevent another Disaster

Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), George Miller (D-Calif.), and colleagues introduced two bills this week that include essential reforms aimed at correcting many of the systemic problems that led to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) said Friday.

The “Implementing the Recommendations of the BP Oil Spill Commission Act”(H.R. 501) incorporates recommendations from the independent oil commission and reforms from the CLEAR Act (H.R. 3534), which the House passed last year with POGO’s support. The legislation reorganizes the U.S. Department of the Interior, statutorily ends the royalty-in-kind program, improves training for government inspectors, and mandates additional study of the effects of dispersants.

Although the bill significantly expands restrictions on employment to slow the revolving door between government and industry, it only applies to Interior Department employees who have duties under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. Congress must recognize that the coziness between regulators and industry that helped lead to this disaster are present and must be addressed throughout Interior.

Markey and Miller also re-introduced legislation to provide best-practice whistleblower protections for offshore oil and gas industry employees (H.R. 503), which POGO supported and which passed the House by an overwhelming majority last year. This bill will go a long way to improve the safety of offshore drilling by protecting the workers who warn us of potential problems.

“If the policies called for in these bills had been in place, the Deepwater Horizon tragedy might have been averted,” POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian said. “We’re very supportive of Reps. Markey and Miller and their cosponsors as they revive critical reforms to improve the safety of offshore drilling, restore fairness for taxpayers in royalty payments, and ensure better oversight of the oil and gas industry.”

POGO urged Congress to fix the failures that led to the BP Gulf oil disaster in POGO's Reform Agenda: A Good Government Guide for the 112th Congress.

Related:

Interior Agency Needs to Dig Deeper on Reforms

House Panel Moves Towards Better Oversight in Wake of Deepwater Horizon Disaster

Interior Department Ethics Problems Spill into BLM

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO’s investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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