H.R. 5241 (111th): BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Inquiry Commission Act of 2010

111th Congress, 2009–2010. Text as of May 06, 2010 (Introduced).

Status & Summary | PDF | Source: GPO

I

111th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 5241

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

May 6, 2010

(for herself, Mr. Markey of Massachusetts, Ms. Castor of Florida, Mr. Price of North Carolina, Mr. Farr, Ms. Matsui, Ms. McCollum, Ms. Hirono, Mr. Sherman, Mr. Hastings of Florida, Ms. Lee of California, Mr. Moore of Kansas, Ms. Speier, Mr. Braley of Iowa, and Ms. Zoe Lofgren of California) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, and in addition to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

A BILL

To establish an independent, nonpartisan commission to investigate the causes and impact of, and evaluate and improve the response to, the explosion, fire, and loss of life on and sinking of the Mobile Drilling Unit Deepwater Horizon and the resulting uncontrolled release of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, and to ensure that a similar disaster is not repeated.

1.

Short title; table of contents

(a)

Short title

This Act may be referred to as the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Inquiry Commission Act of 2010.

(b)

Table of contents

The table of contents of this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

Sec. 2. Definitions.

Sec. 3. Establishment and duties of BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Inquiry Commission.

Sec. 4. Composition of Commission.

Sec. 5. Meetings and hearings.

Sec. 6. Powers of Commission.

Sec. 7. Staff of Commission.

Sec. 8. Compensation and travel expenses.

Sec. 9. Security clearances for Commission members and staff.

Sec. 10. Reporting and termination of Commission.

Sec. 11. Authorization of appropriations.

2.

Definitions

For purposes of this Act, the following definitions apply:

(1)

The term Commission means the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Inquiry Commission.

(2)

The term Mobile Drilling Unit Deepwater Horizon means the drilling platform owned by Transocean, Ltd, and leased to BP Exploration and Production, Inc.

(3)

The term oil disaster means the explosion, fire, and loss of life on and sinking of the Mobile Drilling Unit Deepwater Horizon and the resulting pollution, including the uncontrolled release of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

3.

Establishment and duties of BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Inquiry Commission

(a)

Establishment

There is hereby established an independent, nonpartisan commission within the executive branch, to be known as the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Inquiry Commission.

(b)

Duties

(1)

Investigation of causes

The Commission shall conduct an investigation of the causes of the oil disaster, including an investigation of the following:

(A)

The performance of BP Exploration and Production, Inc., Transocean, Ltd., and other entities affiliated with the Mobile Drilling Unit Deepwater Horizon.

(B)

The compliance of such entities with Federal, State, and local laws and regulations, and their conformance with their own practices and industry practices.

(C)

The performance of Federal, State, and local agencies responsible for oversight, inspection, and enforcement.

(D)

The compliance of such agencies with Federal, State, and local laws and regulations governing their actions.

(2)

Evaluation of impact

The Commission shall evaluate the current and future impact of the oil disaster on the environment, economy, and public health.

(3)

Evaluation of response

The Commission shall evaluate the adequacy of the response to the oil disaster, including an evaluation of the following:

(A)

The response by BP Exploration and Production, Inc., Transocean, Ltd., and other entities affiliated with the Mobile Drilling Unit Deepwater Horizon.

(B)

The compliance of such entities with Federal, State, and local laws and regulations, and their conformance with their own practices and industry practices for responding to such a disaster.

(C)

The response by Federal, State, and local agencies.

(D)

The compliance of such agencies with Federal, State, and local laws and regulations governing their response.

(E)

The accuracy and availability to the public of information about the oil disaster from—

(i)

BP Exploration and Production, Inc., Transocean, Ltd., and other entities affiliated with the Mobile Drilling Unit Deepwater Horizon; and

(ii)

Federal, State, and local agencies.

(F)

How the response to the oil disaster is affected by conditions in the marine and atmospheric environment (including sea state, tides, currents, wind speed and direction, and absence of sea ice).

(G)

How the response to the oil disaster affects the marine and atmospheric environment (including with respect to marine life and fisheries), and the accuracy and availability to the public of information about the effects of the response.

(4)

Development of recommendations

The Commission shall develop recommendations—

(A)

to improve the response to the oil disaster, including through modification of proposed plans to mitigate and monitor the impact of the oil disaster; and

(B)

to minimize the risk and mitigate the impact of future such disasters, including through—

(i)

changes to Federal law and regulations, including laws and regulations for public health and safety, conservation, and resource management and other laws and regulations for preventing and mitigating the impact of such disasters; and

(ii)

improvements in industry practices.

(5)

Evaluation of implications for offshore oil and gas activities

The Commission shall evaluate the implications of the oil disaster, and any risk of other such disasters, for current and future offshore oil and gas activities by the United States.

(c)

Review of information by Commission

In carrying out the duties assigned by subsection (b), the Commission shall comply with the following requirements:

(1)

Review of information

The Commission shall review and (as applicable) qualitatively and quantitatively analyze the following information, subject to its availability:

(A)

The report submitted pursuant to the Joint Investigation convened in paragraph (3) of the Joint Department of the Interior and Department of Homeland Security Convening Order dated April 27, 2010.

(B)

Other Federal, State and local governmental evaluations of the oil disaster.

(C)

Data and evidence from oversight, inspection, and enforcement activities, including monitoring activities.

(D)

All other information determined by the Commission to be of value in carrying out its duties.

(2)

Evaluation of availability and accuracy of information

The Commission shall evaluate the availability and accuracy of baseline data against which the impact of the oil disaster may be measured.

4.

Composition of Commission

(a)

Composition of Commission

Not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall appoint 15 members to the Commission, including each of the following individuals:

(1)

One individual from each list submitted pursuant to subsection (c).

(2)

The Governor of a Gulf State, or the Governor’s designee.

(3)

The Governor of a Coastal State other than a Gulf State, or the Governor’s designee.

(4)

One individual from a Gulf State who has been affected by the oil disaster.

(b)

Additional requirements for composition

The membership of the Commission shall include individuals with natural resources and environmental expertise, legal and investigative expertise, and expertise in oil and gas activities, spill response, and any other area determined by the President to be of value to the Commission in carrying out its duties. To the extent practicable, the President shall seek diversity in the membership of the Commission.

(c)

Recommendations for appointment

The following individuals shall submit to the President a list of candidates for membership in the Commission:

(1)

The majority leader of the Senate.

(2)

The minority leader of the Senate.

(3)

The Speaker of the House of Representatives.

(4)

The minority leader of the House of Representatives.

(d)

Prohibition on appointment of certain individuals

(1)

In general

Not more than two members of the Commission may be either of the following:

(A)

An officer or employee of the Federal government.

(B)

An individual who has ever had, or has pending, a contractual relationship with the Minerals Management Service.

(2)

Conflicts of interest

No member of the Commission shall have ever had a relationship with the Department of the Interior or the Department of Homeland Security that the President determines to constitute a conflict of interest.

(e)

Chairman and Vice Chairman

The President shall designate the Chair and Vice Chair of the Commission from among its members.

(f)

Vacancies

Any vacancy in the Commission shall not affect its powers, but shall be filled in the same manner in which the original appointment was made.

5.

Meetings and hearings

(a)

Meeting dates

(1)

Initial meeting

The Commission shall hold its initial meeting not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

(2)

Subsequent meetings

The Commission shall hold subsequent meetings upon the call of the Chair or a majority of its members.

(b)

Public meetings and hearings

(1)

Requirement

The Commission shall hold at least—

(A)

two public meetings or hearings in an area of the Gulf Coast affected by the oil disaster; and

(B)

one public meeting or hearing in an area under consideration for future offshore oil and gas activities.

(2)

Confidentiality

Public meetings and hearings of the Commission shall be conducted in a manner consistent with the requirements of all statutes, regulations, and Executive orders with respect to confidentiality of information.

(c)

Quorum

Eight members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum.

6.

Powers of Commission

(a)

Hearings and evidence

For the purpose of carrying out this Act, the Commission or (if authorized by the Commission) any subcommittee or member of the Commission may—

(1)

hold hearings, take testimony, receive evidence, and administer oaths; and

(2)

subject to subsection (b), require the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of books, records, correspondence, memoranda, papers, and other documents.

(b)

Subpoenas

(1)

Issuance

(A)

In general

A subpoena may be issued under this subsection only—

(i)

by agreement of the Chairman and the Vice Chairman; or

(ii)

by the affirmative vote of eight members of the Commission.

(B)

Signature

Subject to subparagraph (A), subpoenas issued under this subsection may be issued under the signature of the Chairman or any member designated by a majority of the Commission, and may be served by any person designated by the Chairman or a member designated by a majority of the Commission.

(2)

Enforcement

(A)

In general

In the case of contumacy or failure to obey a subpoena issued under paragraph (1), the United States district court for the judicial district in which the subpoenaed person resides, is served, or may be found, or where the subpoena is returnable, may issue an order requiring such person to appear at any designated place to testify or to produce documentary or other evidence. Any failure to obey the order of the court may be punished by the court as a contempt of that court.

(B)

Additional enforcement

In the case of a failure of a witness to comply with a subpoena or to testify when summoned under authority of this section, the Commission may, by majority vote, certify a statement of fact constituting such failure to the appropriate United States attorney, who may bring the matter before a grand jury for its action, under the same statutory authority and procedures as if the United States attorney had received a certification under sections 102 through 104 of the Revised Statutes of the United States (2 U.S.C. 192 et seq.).

(c)

Contracting

The Commission may, to such extent and in such amounts as are provided in appropriation Acts, enter into contracts to enable the Commission to discharge its duties under this Act.

(d)

Information from Federal agencies

(1)

In general

The Commission may secure directly from any executive department, bureau, agency, board, commission, office, independent establishment, or instrumentality of the Government, information, suggestions, estimates, and statistics for the purposes of this Act. Each department, bureau, agency, board, commission, office, independent establishment, or instrumentality shall, to the extent authorized by law, furnish such information, suggestions, estimates, and statistics directly to the Commission, upon request made by the Chairman, the chairman of any subcommittee created by a majority of the Commission, or any member designated by a majority of the Commission.

(2)

Receipt, handling, storage, and dissemination

Information shall be received, handled, stored, and disseminated by members of the Commission and its staff consistent with all applicable statutes, regulations, and Executive orders.

(e)

Assistance from Federal agencies

(1)

General services administration

The Administrator of General Services shall provide to the Commission on a reimbursable basis administrative support and other services necessary to the performance of the Commission’s tasks.

(2)

Other departments and agencies

In addition to the assistance prescribed in paragraph (1), departments and agencies of the United States shall provide to the Commission such funds, facilities, staff, and other support services as necessary and authorized by law.

(f)

Postal services

The Commission may use the United States mails in the same manner and under the same conditions as departments and agencies of the United States.

7.

Staff of Commission

(a)

In general

(1)

Appointment and compensation

The Chairman, in consultation with the Vice Chairman, and in accordance with rules agreed upon by the Commission, may appoint and fix the compensation of an executive director and such other personnel as may be necessary to enable the Commission to carry out its duties, without regard to the provisions of title 5, United States Code, governing appointments in the competitive service, and without regard to the provisions of chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of such title relating to classification and General Schedule pay rates, except that no rate of pay fixed under this paragraph may exceed the equivalent of that payable for a position at level V of the Executive Schedule under section 5316 of title 5, United States Code. Employees of the Department of the Interior and the Department of Homeland Security shall not be appointed to the staff of the Commission.

(2)

Personnel as Federal employees

(A)

In general

The executive director and any personnel of the Commission shall be considered employees under section 2105 of title 5, United States Code, for purposes of chapters 63, 81, 83, 84, 85, 87, 89, and 90 of that title.

(B)

Members of Commission

Subparagraph (A) does not apply to members of the Commission.

(b)

Detailees

Any Federal employee, including an employee of the Coast Guard, the Department of the Interior, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency, but not an employee of the Minerals Management Service, may be detailed to the Commission without reimbursement from the Commission, and such detailee shall retain the rights, status, and privileges of his or her regular employment without interruption.

(c)

Consultant services

The Commission may procure the services of an expert or consultant in accordance with section 3109 of title 5, United States Code, at a rate that shall not exceed the equivalent of that payable for a position at level IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5315 of title 5, United States Code.

8.

Compensation and travel expenses

(a)

Compensation

Each member of the Commission may be compensated, for each day during which the member is engaged in the actual performance of the duties of the Commission, at a rate that shall not exceed the equivalent of that payable for a position at level IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5315 of title 5, United States Code.

(b)

Travel expenses

While away from their homes or regular places of business in the performance of services for the Commission, members of the Commission shall be allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, in the same manner as persons employed intermittently in the Government service are allowed expenses under section 5703(b) of title 5, United States Code.

9.

Security clearances for Commission members and staff

The appropriate Federal agencies or departments shall cooperate with the Commission in expeditiously providing to the Commission members and staff appropriate security clearances to the extent possible pursuant to existing procedures and requirements. No person shall be provided access to classified information under this Act without the appropriate security clearances.

10.

Reporting and termination of Commission

(a)

Reports

The Commission shall submit to the President and Congress, and make concurrently available to the public—

(1)

such interim reports as the Commission determines will be of immediate value in mitigation of the oil disaster and prevention of other such disasters; and

(2)

not later than 9 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, a final report containing the results of each investigation and evaluation performed pursuant to section 3, and the recommendations developed pursuant to subsection (b)(4) of such section.

(b)

Termination

The Commission shall terminate 60 days after the date on which the final report is submitted under subsection (a)(2).

11.

Authorization of appropriations

There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as are necessary to carry out this Act. Amounts so appropriated shall remain available until the termination of the Commission.