Marilyn Heiman is the director of the Pew Environment Group’s offshore energy reform efforts and its U.S. Arctic Program.
The State of the Union address is an opportunity for President Obama to champion the recommendations of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, coming just weeks after the release of its report. During his address, the President should call on the United States to become the world’s leader in safe drilling standards, spill prevention, and response.
The administration has already taken positive steps, but it has a way to go with making important reforms. The spill commission pointed out that we are lagging behind other nations such as Norway and United Kingdom in safety. The President should seek significantly increased funding to improve oversight and environmental standards for drilling and spill response, as well as to implement other crucial reforms outlined in the commission’s report. President Obama should also call on Congress and the oil industry to do their part. Reform is especially critical now, as the oil and gas industry is planning to explore in frontier areas such as the U.S. Arctic Ocean, where remoteness, extreme weather, and ice conditions make spill cleanup extremely challenging. The President must assure Americans from the Gulf to the Arctic that his administration will ensure world-class standards for drilling, and will protect our coastlines and wildlife from oil spills. As a nation, we cannot afford to do anything less.
This opinion was written in response to "The State of Obama's Energy Plan
" on National Journal
's Energy & Environment Blog.