Beyond Petroleum: Lessons from the Gulf of Mexico (10/21/11)

Beyond Petroleum: Lessons from the Gulf of Mexico Bill Reilly, Co-Chair, National Oil Spill Commission Bob Graham, Co-Chair, National Oil Spill Commission More than a year after oil stopped gushing into the Gulf, the co-chairs of the commission tasked with investigating the Deepwater Horizon oil spill appear together in this Climate One panel to assess the nation’s response to the disaster. Bill Reilly and Bob Graham commend the Obama administration for overhauling regulation of the offshore oil industry, and praise the oil industry for initiating internal reforms, but they blast Congress for doing next to nothing to respond to the spill. Former EPA Administrator Bill Reilly says that the administration and the oil industry have heeded the call for reform. “The systemic reforms that we recommended are underway, certainly in the Interior Department under the direction of Michael Bromwich at BOEMRE and Secretary Salazar. They’ve issued any number of new rules on safety and environmental management that are long overdue, I think, and very defensible, very professional, and very appropriate.” Less expected has been the aggressive push by the oil industry to take control of its own conduct. “Very promising, and to some extent surprising, has been the response of industry,” says Reilly. “Frankly, industry has done more than Congress to respond to our report,” he says. Asked by Climate One’s Greg Dalton to grade the government and industry implementation of commission’s report, former U.S. Senator Bob Graham says: “Probably, in both places, it would be ‘incomplete.’ The actions that have been taken at the executive level in the federal government are very encouraging.” As for Congress, Graham is less than impressed. “The Congress would not get a very good grade because they have essentially done nothing, and in some instances have gone backward.” Reilly and Graham express frustration that the five Gulf states have been unable to reach agreement to settle monetary damages and fund restoration. “We’re still waiting to see what the final settlement looks like, where the money goes,” says Reilly, but “one hopes it goes to restoration when it’s finally allocated.” Graham and Reilly also want money dedicated to monitoring potential health impacts of the spill for residents and those who consume Gulf seafood. “To fully assess the health implications of this event, and the environmental implications, we’re going to require an extended period of time and a substantial investment in research,” Graham says. Graham and Reilly also agreed that we need to reduce the demand for oil – and hence the need for more drilling – altogether. “I don’t see the United States engaged in any serious thinking about what its economy is going to be in the post-oil era,” Graham says.This program was recorded in front of a live audience at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on October 21, 2011 This program was recorded in front of a live audience at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on October 21, 2011 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

by Climate One