Press Release | January 6, 2011

Pervasive problems within oil industry require reform

Today’s finding of systemic problems in the oil industry by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling confirms the need for systemic reform and better oversight, according to the Southern Environmental Law Center. The center is in court to ensure that the thorough environmental review of risks and possible response plans for oil drilling in deep waters, like BP Deepwater Horizon, takes place before a company begins new drilling.

According to William K. Reilly, co-chair of the commission and board member of ConocoPhilips, the commission concluded that the blowout reflected “a more pervasive problem” within the oil industry.

“We witnessed the oil industry and government scramble for three months after pushing the technological edge of drilling into deep waters without adequate forethought to environmental safety and health,” said Derb Carter, a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “To continue oil drilling in riskier, deeper waters under the same broken system would be irresponsible. Until we know how to prevent an oil spill from happening again and have the ready ability to stop a deep water blowout and prevent further harm, we shouldn’t be drilling in deep water.”

“If another disastrous oil spill is to be prevented, the oil drilling industry must accept abiding by regulations that protect life, health, and natural resources used by coastal communities and fishing and tourism industries,” continued Carter. “And the government must assert its legal responsibility to protect life and our natural resources vital to our communities and other livelihoods.”

Moody’s Investment Services reported in November that the government’s temporary pause on deep-water drilling, which was lifted October 12, had not affected employment levels despite the outcry from the oil industry that it would suffer while the government re-examined oversight after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. According to the recent round of earnings reports for 2010, profit also increased for many in the oil industry, including Hornbeck Offshore Services which had claimed economic harm from the deep water moratorium.

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Kathleen Sullivan

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Phone: 919-945-7106
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