Pelosi Nixes Independent Investigation Of Oil Spill From CLEAR Act

As the unfortunate process of moving the CLEAR Act – which would restrict oil and gas exploration through a series of harmful regulations and new taxes – toward a floor vote in the House of Representatives continues, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took a step yesterday to carry water for President Obama and against the people of the Gulf Coast who are asking for an independent, bi-partisan investigation of what happened to the Deepwater Horizon and what should be done to keep it from happening again.

An amendment to the CLEAR Act which would have established such a commission was offered in the House Natural Resources Committee by Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-Baton Rouge), and it passed through committee on a unanimous vote. But things went south from there. As Connie Hair of HUMAN EVENTS reports:

The Natural Resources Committee unanimously passed the amendment in committee markup July 14 offered by Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) that would establish a bipartisan, independent, National Commission on Outer Continental Shelf Oil Spill Prevention.

Unlike the commission set up by President Obama — packed only with environmental activists and no petroleum engineers — the commission unanimously approved by the Natural Resources committee would be comprised of technical experts to study the actual events leading up to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Not a single member of the committee voiced opposition at the bill’s markup.  The Senate has also approved an independent commission.

“To investigate what went wrong and keep it from happening again, the commission must include members who have expertise in petroleum engineering.  The President’s Commission has none,” Cassidy, the amendment’s author, told HUMAN EVENTS after the announcement.  “It defies common sense that this amendment passed unanimously in committee, only to be deleted in the Speaker’s office.”

Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), top Republican on the Natural Resources Committee said the Obama’s administration’s commission was set up to protect the President.

“By deleting the bipartisan, independent oil spill commission that’s received bipartisan support in both House and Senate committees, Democrats have shown they are more interested in protecting the President than getting independent answers to what caused this tragic Gulf spill.  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.  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 that will cost thousands of jobs,” Hastings said.

Why would Pelosi have been opposed to such a commission? Now that the spill has largely been contained and its response can begin to focus on cleaning up the damage, it would seem the next step is to come to a common agreement as to what happened on the Deepwater Horizon and how it should be prevented.

But Pelosi knocked the legs off that smart approach. Instead, we’ll see a bill which punishes the oil and gas industry go through the House along a partisan vote, we’ll only have a hand-picked Obama commission full of left-wing environmentalist kooks and Soros stooges to assign blame for the spill and we’ll see the spectacle of the administration holding out passage of the CLEAR Act as his price for lifting the moratorium.

Rep. John Fleming (R-Shreveport), whose district includes the Haynesville Shale natural gas field – the development of which will be impacted by this bill, told HUMAN EVENTS this is nothing but politics.

“This ‘fix it’ bill is being rammed through without an accurate and full understanding of what actually went wrong. The Presidential Commission is just barely beginning its work, no investigations are yet concluded, and the failed [blowout preventer] still on the ocean floor, yet we are voting on a bill without knowing what went wrong,” Fleming said. 

“Furthermore, at a time when Washington should be focused on creating jobs, this bill will do just the opposite by hampering future energy development and stifling job creation along the Gulf Coast,” Fleming added.  “This knee-jerk legislation — coupled with the Administration’s damaging Moratorium on offshore drilling — will worsen, not help, the situation.”

One way or the other, though, the truth will eventually come out. For example, a lawsuit in federal court in New Orleans alleges that fire teams responding to the blaze aboard the Deepwater Horizon flooded the rig and destabilized it, which caused it to sink and commenced the oil spill. If that is proven, it’s possible that the Coast Guard could be complicit in the economic damages the spill has caused – or perhaps more importantly, that proper procedure to handle future offshore blowouts will be refined.

Items like this are unlikely to be addressed by a hand-picked presidential commission. They might have been addressed by a commission such as the one proposed by Cassidy.

“This bill has less to do with preventing another spill than it does preventing domestic energy production,” Cassidy said.

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