Correction to This Article
This summary of investigations and legislative action prompted by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico omitted one bill. A measure approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee would remove oil companies' $75 million liability limit and retroactively remove the liability cap for BP and the Deepwater Horizon explosion. The summary also misidentified the CLEAR Act that is related to the spill: The legislation in question is the Consolidated Land, Energy and Aquatic Resources Act, not the Carbon Limits and Energy for America's Renewal Act, which is an unrelated measure. The text below has been modified to reflect these changes.

Digging deep after the oil spill

Monday, July 12, 2010

Update July 13 at 2:50 p.m.

The April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig and the massive oil spill that has stemmed from the accident have prompted 10 formal investigations, and more could be coming.

Probe National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore D rilling, a bipartisan team created by executive order of the president.

Who's in charge: Seven-member team co-chaired by former Florida governor and former U.S. senator Bob Graham, and former Environmental Protection Agency administrator William K. Reilly.

Focus: Commission is tasked with providing recommendations on how to prevent -- and mitigate the impact of -- any future spills that result from offshore drilling.

Status: Initial hearings being held July 12 and July 13.

Marine Board of Investigation.

Who's in charge: Coast Guard and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (formerly known as the Minerals Management Service).

Focus: To identify the factors leading to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig.

Status of investigation: Two sessions of hearings in May. A third session is scheduled for later this month. First session investigated the circumstances surrounding the fire, explosion, pollution and sinking of the rig. Second session focused on gathering information on the rig's materiel condition, crew qualifications, emergency preparedness and casualty timeline. The third session of hearings will focus on the "how" and the "why."

Highlights: Documents and testimony showed that work on the well was behind schedule and over budget, that the well plan was changed several times shortly before the accident, and that BP decided not to perform a test on the mud at the bottom of the well before starting to place the final cement lining, which experts think was a likely source of the gas that eventually blew out the well.

House Energy and Commerce Committee.


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