08.02.2010 0

Gulf Coast Oil Spill Needs an Independent Inquiry

U.S. House Democrats have stripped the establishment of a bi-partisan independent commission to investigate the Gulf Oil spill from the Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s Renewal Act (CLEAR Act).

If ever a situation needed to be investigated by independent experts with knowledge about oil drilling and a desire to get to the truth no matter where it might lie, the Gulf disaster is it.

Yet, amazingly, the Democratic majority of the House Resources Committee has decided that an independent inquiry is not needed, instead relying on the Obama-appointed commission of environmentalists to evaluate offshore oil drilling and the Gulf spill.

It is reasonable to assume that the Obama group will not look at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) culpability in obstructing the use of oil dispersants by BP. That isn’t in its interest or even mission.

It is reasonable to assume that the Obama group will not look at the Administration’s blocking of building barrier islands to block oil from entering pristine marshlands that may never be restored to health.

It is also reasonable to assume that the Obama group will not look at the failure of the Obama Administration to take action — except for when they threatened those very BP workers who were busting their tails trying to fix the problem with litigation. After all, nothing encourages collaboration and cooperation like a lawyer looking to sue you peering over your shoulder.

Representative Doc Hastings of Washington State, the ranking Republican member of the House Resources Committee accused the Democratic majority of being “more interested in protecting the President than getting independent answers to what caused this tragic Gulf spill.”

Hastings went on to note, “Some of the biggest failures that contributed to the Gulf disaster are the direct responsibility of the federal government and by deleting this bipartisan, independent Commission, Democrats ensure that only the President’s hand-picked Commission will be digging into any failures of his own Interior Department appointees.”

In the aftermath of 9/11, the Bush Administration appointed an independent panel to look into security issues and make recommendations. That panel was represented by well-respected men and women from both political parties, and it did not spare any political figures or sacred cow agencies from examination and skewering. While some of the recommendations have not been approved by Congress, overall, our nation is safer as a result of this Commission and the reforms that resulted.

Unfortunately, in the wake of the Gulf disaster, the only likely outcome is that the politically motivated commission filled with opponents to offshore oil drilling will recommend that the U.S. discontinue offshore oil drilling.

Their recommendations will be hailed by those opposed to offshore oil drilling and dismissed by those who support energy independence, and our nation will be no better for their having existed.

The opportunity for our nation’s government, and this Administration in particular, to learn how to better respond to a crisis will be lost because the Obama-appointed commission lacks the necessary independence to be viewed as credible, non-partisan or even independent.

Ranking member Hastings drives this point home directly stating, “There is widespread agreement that no member of the President’s Commission possesses technical expertise in oil drilling, and several are on the record in opposition to offshore drilling and support a moratorium.”

America deserves an honest, independent inquiry into what happened over the past three months, and what could’ve been done both to prevent it and to better respond to it. Exempting scrutiny of the Obama Administration leaves our nation vulnerable to similar disastrous inaction during the next inevitable crisis.

While the so-called CLEAR Act has numerous pitfalls, the fact that House Resource Committee Democrats want to play see no evil, hear no evil with the Gulf disaster is a disaster in and of itself.

Rick Manning is the Director of Communications for Americans for Limited Government.

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