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BP spill report points fingers at oil industry

Ships work near the site of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana.

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: The BP oil spill is back in the news today. A commission appointed by the president has released the key chapter of a report on the spill. It lays the blame squarely at the feet of BP and its contractors Halliburton and Transocean. And goes on to point a collective finger at the oil industry and say: all of you need to shape up.

From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Eve Troeh reports.


Eve Troeh: This portion of the report clearly answers the "whodunit" question of the BP spill. But energy analyst Kevin Book says it also addresses a broader question, one that the oil industry has been asking about regulators.

Kevin Book: Were they going to, if you'll pardon the phrase, hate the player or the game? In this case it looks like it's the game that's in the crosshairs.

What's game-changing about this report, he says, is that it suggests not only continuing strict regulations for offshore drilling, but slowing the permitting process further. And, it asks the industry to create an internal body for regulation.

But Book says the commission is not trying to stop offshore drilling.

Book: Their report is actually providing a stable, long-term drilling future, but the cost of doing it is probably a longer delay in the short to intermediate term.

Oil companies say those delays will cost too much, and won't improve safety. Lobbyist Lou Pagliarisi heads the Energy Policy Research Foundation. He says fewer domestic offshore projects just means importing more oil by tanker, and tankers have spilled more historically.

Lou Pagliarisi: This is the failure of the administration, I think, is to understand systemic risk.

But Bill Reilly, who co-chaired the National Commission, says there is more risk in drilling deeper and deeper. And it only makes sense that safety measures keep pace.

Bill Reilly: Applying that technology and the same level of ingenuity and attention and resources to safety can reassure everybody.

Reilly says it's not just the public, or government, but the oil industry itself that should want to ensure it can drill with less risk.

I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.
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