The Macondo well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) occurred because “corners were cut,” but the risks associated with development of offshore oil and natural gas resources still are relatively small, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour told a House panel Thursday.
“It is very clear that this well blew out because normal standard procedures, protocols weren’t followed. I don’t think there’s any question that corners were cut. I don’t know whose fault it was,” Barbour said during a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
He noted that more than 31,000 oil and natural gas wells have been drilled in the Gulf during his lifetime, and “this is the only time that anything vaguely like this has ever happened.” Given these odds, “I think the risks [associated with oil and gas development] are way too small compared to what you give up” when drilling in the Gulf is halted, Barbour said.
Barbour believes Mississippi and the other four states that border the Gulf should receive a larger share of federal royalties to compensate them for the risks they take in allowing drilling. “It’s not fair for the other 45 states to burn the oil [and gas] that we have taken out of our Outer Continental Shelf, and they get treated the same way we do.”
He noted that Congress has already passed legislation that would allow states to begin sharing revenue from oil and gas produced off their coasts by around 2017 (up to 37.5%). “I would urge you to put it [revenue sharing] into effect immediately,” Barbour said.
In the alternative, he said Gulf states “can reasonably [be] compensated for [any] damage done to us if you take the Clean Water Act fines,” which would potentially total more than billions of dollars, and allocate them to affected states.
During the clean-up of the oil spill following the Macondo well blowout, which lead to the explosion aboard the BP plc-leased Deepwater Horizon rig, Barbour said that “sometimes BP was easier to be with than the federal government.” He said BP was quicker to respond to the state’s needs for equipment than federal agencies.
“What we didn’t like was usurpation of state [power] by the federal government,” Barbour said.
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