Today, Congressman Scott Murphy (NY-20) helped pass legislation to grant subpoena power to the bipartisan Commission established by President Obama last month to investigate BP's oil spill in the Gulf and evaluate long-term prospects for offshore oil and gas drilling. The U.S. Constitution does not implicitly or explicitly grant the President general subpoena power authority, which prompted legislative action.
"Giving this bipartisan commission subpoena power is a commonsense step to ensuring that we are able to conduct a complete analysis of what went wrong to cause the BP oil spill," Rep. Murphy said. "The work of this bipartisan, independent commission will ensure that this type of disaster never happens again. We owe it to the families and small businesses whose lives have been disrupted and whose incomes have been halted to do everything in our power to clean up this mess.
"We must continue to work to create clean energy jobs through innovation. This is an issue of safety, an issue of economics, and an issue of national security. I'm outraged by what may be the greatest environmental disaster in our nation's history, and I hope this tragic spill in the gulf makes it clear, once and for all, that the time for rhetoric has passed and the time for action is now."
The bipartisan commission, co-chaired by former Senator Bob Graham of Florida and former EPA Administrator Bill Reilly under President George H.W. Bush, and will focus on making sure that another oil spill like this does not happen again. Below are the specific charges laid out for the Commission:
* The commission will work to identify the environmental and safety precautions necessary to strengthen the current regulatory framework and ensure an accident like this never happens again.
* The commission will have bipartisan co-chairs with a total membership of seven people. Membership will include broad and diverse representation of individuals with relevant expertise. No sitting government employees or elected officials will sit on the commission.
* The Commission's work will be transparent and subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act. The Commission will issue a report within six months of having been convened.