New Outrage in the Gulf
by Rick Outzen
Could Congress have prevented the BP mess? A report reveals that a law enacted after the Exxon Valdez to avoid future oil spills was deprived of cash by lawmakers.
President Obama’s commission investigating the disastrous BP oil spill quietly issued a draft report on the response last week, and within that document, largely unnoticed, emerged a damning finger pointed directly at Congress for failing to heed the lessons of the Exxon Valdez.
Specifically, in 1990, shortly after Exxon’s 750,000-barrel Alaska catastrophe, Congress passed the Oil Pollution Act to funnel up to $28 million in research money annually to pre-empt and respond to possible disasters, as the oil industry “pushed the frontier of deepwater drilling.” This money wouldn’t come from the general coffers, but rather a trust fund, covered by a 5-cent per-barrel tax collected from the oil industry.