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Energy Committee Passes Barrasso Amendment to Establish Credible Oil Spill Commission

Bipartisan members of the Senate Energy Committee voted to ensure that an investigation is led by experts – not people with an agenda

June 30, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) introduced an amendment to the Outer Continental Shelf Reform Act of 2010 (S. 3516) that would establish an independent Congressional Committee to investigate the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  During a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee business meeting, the amendment passed with a 15-8 vote. 

Senator Barrasso praised the passage of his amendment.

“The oil spill in the Gulf is a national tragedy that threatens jobs and communities.  The American people deserve to know what went wrong and how to prevent future spills.  Any investigation into the spill should be unbiased and focused on the facts.

“Unfortunately, the President’s Oil Spill Commission is stacked with people who philosophically oppose offshore drilling.  Today, bipartisan members of the Energy Committee voted to ensure that an investigation is led by a wide range of experts – not people with an agenda.  This is critical to ensuring the commission’s recommendations have credibility. 

“The Congressional Commission will provide a truly unbiased, bipartisan review and recommendations to prevent future spills.”

Background on the Barrasso Amendment:

Senator Barrasso’s amendment establishes a bipartisan Commission to examine and report on the causes of the Deepwater Horizon incident and make recommendations to improve offshore oil and natural gas exploration and prevent similar incidents.  

The 10-member Commission will be appointed equally by both parties. The amendment emphasizes the importance of appointing members with technical expertise in offshore oil exploration, health and safety, and environmental protection.  The President appoints the Chair of the Commission.  Congressional Leadership appoints the Vice-Chair and the remaining members. 

The Commission is given subpoena power and must provide its final report within 180 days.  The Commission is directed to first review information compiled by existing investigations, including the President’s Commission, to avoid unnecessary duplication. 

On June 22, 2010, the Wall Street Journal reported:

“Mr. Obama filled out his commission last week, and the news is that there's neither an oil nor drilling expert in the bunch. Instead, he's loaded up on politicians and environmental activists.

“Whatever their other expertise, none of these worthies knows much if anything about petroleum engineering. Where is the expert on modern drilling techniques, or rig safety, or even blowout preventers?

“The choice of men and women who are long opposed to more drilling suggests not a fair technical inquiry but an anti-drilling political agenda.”

June 2010 News Releases