Cassidy: Put Science Before Politics for the Sake of the Gulf

June 23, 2010

Washington, DC – Today, Louisiana Congressman Bill Cassidy voiced concerns that members of the President’s National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling “lack expertise in the issues we’re confronting,” and are not “capable of understanding what they need to understand.” Video and transcript below.

Madame Speaker, it’s been 64 days since the deepwater horizon exploded, sank, killed 11 rig workers and began spilling oil into the Gulf of Mexico. So I think we all agree that first and foremost we must stop the leak, clean up the spill, protect our coast and hold BP accountable for damages.

Now next though, we’ve got to get to the bottom of what happened. And like my colleague just said, “If we’re going to go ultra deep, make sure that its ultra safe.” Now, for that to happen, we have to know the facts – a detailed account, informed by understanding what did take place – and then put in these ultra safe safety enforcement measures to make the United States the safest place to drill to get the resources to power our economy.

Now, this was supposed to be the purpose of the [National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling]. Instead, the members do not appear to be up to the challenge. Instead of appointing independent experts with knowledge and expertise of deepwater drilling, the president has packed the commission with people who lack expertise in the issues we’re confronting.

First, let me say Madame Speaker, I am for this commission having subpoena power. I am for them learning as much as they can learn. My concern is that they do not have the members capable of understanding what they need to understand. There are no petroleum engineers in this commission or anyone else with experience in deepwater drilling. Now, if you’re going to have a commission to figure out what went wrong in a petroleum engineering circumstance in deepwater drilling, you need members with expertise in those issues. And if we don’t learn from this, if we don’t figure out how to not repeat these mistakes, then we’re dooming ourselves to either repeat these accidents or to have an energy future which is far less secure.

Now, candidate Obama pledged to put science before politics, but it appears the President is rejecting science and professional expertise in responding to this.

He recently imposed a moratorium that his hand picked experts said should not be put in place. These experts stated and I quote, “This moratorium will have a lasting impact on the nation’s economy which may be greater than that of the oil spill.” They specifically said that the moratorium should not be blank but rather targeted to those rigs at risk.

Madame Speaker, I speak as someone from Louisiana. We have over 150,000 jobs at stake here. These are jobs in the energy production field, fisheries, wetlands and our ecosystem. At stake is not only these jobs though, but the ability of our country to provide the energy we need to power our vehicles, our businesses, to provide jobs, in a sense, to make our economy go. Now, this spill is a disaster for the Gulf Coast, especially for my state. The citizens have had their lives and livelihood up ended by this spill, but the commission we’re debating here today is a disappointment. To get to the bottom of what happened, we need people who are up to the task. We need to put science before politics for the sake of the gulf, our nation, and for those whose jobs are at risk.

I yield back.

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