A presidential panel into the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico and the devastating maritime oil spill that followed, has made a series of recommendations not just for the offshore industry, but also for Congress and the federal administration. The panel is expected to make its recommendations to the Obama administration today. The commission is calling for even greater reforms in the offshore industry, as well as stronger oversight by the federal administration. Maritime attorneys believe that some of these recommendations are likely to include better training facilities for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, as well as a bigger budget for the agency. Besides, as a maritime lawyer, I am also hoping for an increase on the liability cap on offshore companies who are involved in these tragedies. The current rules simply don't hold offshore companies accountable when there's a disaster of this magnitude. The panel is also likely to recommend setting aside a substantial amount of the fines that BP is expected to pay, to restoring the environment in the Gulf. Approximately 80% of the fines and penalties levied on the oil giant would be directed towards environmental restoration. The panel is likely to call for more consideration to scientific studies while making crucial decisions about where to permit oil and gas drilling offshore. At least some of these recommendations, including the one directing 80% of BP's penalties to Gulf of Mexico restoration, have already been endorsed by Pres. Obama. However, a final decision can only be taken after approval by the Congress. In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, there has been a major overhaul of the federal agency in charge of overseeing offshore safety. The new Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is likely to find that the panel makes more recommendations to further increase efficiency at the agency, reduce inappropriate relations between agency staff and offshore companies, and help develop better oversight abilities.
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