Lawmakers Gear Up to Drill Commission on Oil Spill Report's Findings


"Widely anticipated 280-page report includes recommendations for industry, Congress."

This week the leaders of the presidential commission that investigated last year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will take their case for increased funding and offshore drilling safety reform to Capitol Hill, but their specific legislative recommendations may reach deaf ears.

The seven-member commission's widely anticipated 280-page report and recommendations for offshore drilling reform released to the president earlier this month included several recommendations directed to industry and the Obama administration as well as some that require congressional action.

The panel's co-chairmenóBill Reilly, a former U.S. EPA administrator under President George H.W. Bush, and former Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.)óWednesday will make their first formal appearances before Congress to pitch their specific recommendations for regulatory reform and increased funding for the Interior Department agency that oversees offshore drillers.

The duo is slated to testify before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday morning, followed by an appearance that afternoon before the House Natural Resources Committee.

The group says its top recommendation to Congress is to provide more funding to ensure regulators have ample resources to oversee increasingly technical drilling operations.

The panel wants Congress to direct the majority of the penalty money collected under the Clean Water Act from BP PLC and the other companies involved in the disaster to be returned to the Gulf states for environmental cleanup and wetlands restoration. The panel also recommends that Congress lift the liability cap for oil companies involved in a spill higher than the current $75 million, and it wants lawmakers to enact legislation that would require industry to pay a greater portion of its oversight costs.

But those recommendationsóand the others specifically directed to Congressócould be a tough sell on Capitol Hill, where oil spill response legislation stalled last year despite wider partisan margins.

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