tv U.S. House of Representatives CSPAN August 25, 2010 10:00am-1:00pm EDT
places that when you use the special planning and you understand the true dynamics of the place, what we call a response that is much more present. this is a place with a very few people, very few parts, very few air strips -- few ports, very few air strips. the coast guard has little presence, and your ability to respond is very different. .
our recommendation is ensure strong role for science, and also to have the right kind of information, to guide the resources and what is fundamental in the economy. you have a wonderful opportunity to bring the way that we approach the ocean in the 21st century. i hope you make it so. thank you very much. >> thank you, mr. roberts. this commission has used a
practice of having lead questionists who are responsible for developing the questions that the commission feels will bring out the information necessary to complete our mission. for this panel, the lead questioner for mr. west and mr. leimkuhler will be co-chair mr. reilly, and for mr. roberts,it will be fran comer. >> thank you. this is a question for robinson west. and i must say that i tempted to go deep into your principles which are admirable. and explain what practices conform or not conform to your suggested ideals. but i am not sure that we have time for that.
we will spend some time drilling down, so to speak. >> carefully, i hope. >> you are principle and there are determinations to distinguish more completely the leasing, and revenue functions possibly by creating a new agency, like the nuclear regulatory council or to move to nova or e.p.a., do you have views on that? >> i think it makes sense for the regulatory function and the safety function to be kept apart from the leasing function. it's a different imperative. most of the governments frankly view the offshore program of their country. countries such as norway and the u.k. and brazil.
the offshore industry is a huge part of their economy. and they have some highly skilled fiscal and legal experts who look at legal and tax. and they have health, safety and environment people looking at environmental issues. in the case of the u.k., brazil and norway, there is a tremendous focus on employment and creating local content and creating industries around this. the severing of these functions, i think makes a lot of sense. >> did you mean severing within the department of interior or outside? >> as long as they do not get lost in the bureaucracy as a whole, you can put them in a lot of different plays.
there needs to be a critical dilineation, you need these skills. this is a different world of hsc, and we need as such. >> i have heard in this office and in "the washington post" today the use of my clients and partners being customary of mms, and if other functions were broken down and in my encounters regard their industry as their clients. is that culture going to change? >> yeah, i think it will change. and the whole point of safety case, and you may want to comment, it shifts the burden. it creates a challenge to the industry to demonstrate that they got to think through the implications of all of their actions. and be able to anticipate.
the other thing they have to be able to do, is to force -- it was on the slide as a whole, vast network of service companies that support these activities. and they have to be brought into this picture as well. not just the companies. but i think that having a constructive relationship, a constructi constructive relationship does not have to have adversial. >> with all the technology and its rapid development, as we have seen. how do we anticipate if there is adequate trained inspectors or enough of them in the federal government to oversee that. you eluded to dealing with that problem, and asking industry more than it's prescribed in law, how would that work?
>> there are two things, first it shifts the burden to the companies to think it through. and then the companies have to come back to the government to explain what it is. and i think also you have to recognize this is a world-class industry. this is one of the most sophisticated employers, for example, of technology on earth. of any kind of technology. this is the state-of-the-art. and it's unrealistic to have frankly, a kind of sleepy organization regulating it. >> is that what it is? >> i don't think mms, i think that the level of sophistication of the industry, and the level of mms were not comparable. and unless they are comparable, it will be very difficult to be successful. >> mr. leimkuhler, you heard mr.
roberts. i would be interested to know whether you have reconsidered your own safety containment adequacy proposals you made in the waters of alaska. and going beyond the current proposals, whether in the artic, you considered that the technology, the capability is adequate to move forward based on what we have learned? >> i feel that it is. we have adjusted somewhat on the containment form, in the artic, and used a containment system that is under development in the gulf of mexico. the development is different, and the risk profiles are different. and therefore it's adequate to precede. >> we were in precondition after
exxon validez, and that adequate blooms of all sorts and disbersments were available in the present and where there might be spills. are they present in the arctic? >> the operations are managed by others than myself. i understand that strategy and that overview. o oura our arctic drilling is part of the initial operation and be diligent and ready to respond within hours. >> what do you think of marine spatial planning as mr. roberts proposed? >> i am a drilling expert. it sounds like an interesting idea, i don't have the background. >> we have heard so frequently,
one of the principles that mr. west mentioned, the need to have contact information of the players in the process. and we have heard repeatedly that companies are reluctant to criticize one another or alpine on the safety they have in the public or to other companies. do you comment on that? >> i think it's human nature to hold forth the judgment or comment until you have all the information. that you understand all sides of the story. when you speculate and make an opinion on something, and you put it out there publicly, it's human nature to defend it. we are coached to manage the safety until you have all the facts and the pieces. >> one problem with that, if you have laggard company, there is
not much you can do or call them on it? >> the way that we run our business and partner others, we do an assessment of contractors through the contractor safety management plan. how they manage the risk. >> i see that you do that with your joint venture partners. but you were essentially shut down in lease applications because of something that did not concern you. and obviously that affected you and the entire industry. but have you been concerned about the practices that lead to that problem, what would you have done? >> to the best of our ability and on my level, we do our best to communicate and have joint safety meetings with other operators. we fully realize that an make o government should make to keep pace? >> a couple of points. one, i think that several of the
large operators including shell has stepped up with a billion dollars to create a facility in the gulf that would be able to move within 24 hours. and contain spills in up to 10,000 feet of water. so i think that the industry has religion, and they are moving very quickly on this. i think that the second way is that it is, you know, there is a per barrel fee. on oil production. and for a spill response fund, and you know, the possibility of taking some of those funds or adding to the fee. to make sure that research is properly funded. but i think again, it is, we are dealing with a state-of-the-art industry. and we do have to have state of the art technology around it, and it costs money.
>> any other panels want to comment of what we can do to incentivize this arena in clean-up and spill capacity? >> sure, i would love to respond. i have served on briefings with dr. bob dee who has spoken eloquently about the degree to which you can get oil, clean it up under different spills around the world. and it ranges between 15-16%. there is no question in places like the gulf, that you don't get it all up, but the ocean finds a way to restore itself to some degree. you are in a much better situation than in the arctic, where the oil doesn't go away and particularly if covered in sea ice, you can't get at it. so you have different standards based on those conditions.
and you do not allow oil, drilling and exploration occur until you address that response gap. if you create that as a standard for production, that standard must be met, that you close that response gap. and you will force the industry to come to grips with this issue. and there are some places on earth where you simply don't drill for oil. >> one additional comment i would like to add, when we talk about spills and the total oil. it's helpful to think about it in not only the rates that the oil is capable of producing, but about the design, are you able to get on it if the well failed. if the adequate strength to get on it to shut it off, then the ability to respond with the
capping measure is with the volume that comes out of the well. our production in a couple of days, limits the total volume. and if the total volume accounts for a spill and not the rate of production. >> one quick resolve, i am trying to resolve area wide restoration, and marine breaking spanning where you break up the ice patterns and the special ecologically funded areas. who funds it? who does it? how do you align the various important interests in states like alaska and louisiana where you want tourism development. and based on things that norway
has done and other places in the world, would you comment on how you have seen that work in this country? >> sure, as to the conflict of the two approaches, it's obvious which one gives ability to make smart choices. and which one gives the ability to look at the resource of the ocean. this is enormous, and yet the decisions to lease were made on the basis of one sector and not looking at the ocean and all of its values. how it gets done, in my mind, is on taking the advantage of the expertises of the federal government. no one is instructed to do ocean science for the government. e.p.a. has its own expertise as
to sufficient wildlife. and the key is to take advantage of the expertise in those various agencies. but to give that approach enough independence so it's not crushed in the imperative of delivering oil and the profits and revenues that come with that. we believe that the executive order, establishing a national ocean's policy, and to deliver those plans. what we need is to link that to have more rigor and use that to development more gas, oil exploration component. >> and one that needs to be involved is the role for local stakeholders to play. i know that in our role in alaska, when we looked at the operations in arctic, is to look
at stoppages for the well, we will stop operations during that time period. that was gained through interactions with the local stakeholders and the regulatories in alaska. so the local stakeholders have to have appreciation and that their concerns are addressed. and to date, i think that's been done. >> i think that one in terms of the leasing process, there is a process to do this effectively and use the best science of the issue. one area at the end i hustled through is the issue of state versus federal. in the gulf of mexico, the damage didn't happen in federal waters and didn't have to do with offshore leasing but
happened a while ago. i realize this issue is a jurisdictional issue, and it's sometimes a question of understanding. and this is a policy that needs to be driven by the states, not the coastal communities. and it's the states that have benefited from the funds, not the coastal communities themselves. >> thank you very much. first mr. garcia. >> mr. leimkuhler, i would like to ask you to break your rule about speculation. would you drill the way that b.p. did? >> if we examined all the issues, and i would say no. we would use casings for the sea
water. >> and for mr. west and leimkuhler. you know on technology, it's been described, or some people have made the analogy that deep water and ultra-deep water drilling is akin to the shuttle program. that we can build it, but we can't fix it. do you agree with that? if something goes wrong, we don't have the technology to respond in a meaningful way. in a reasonable amount of time. >> i am going to defer to mr. leimkuhler. because i am not a technical person. >> but you raised this issue. >> my sense is that the industry believes they have the capability to deal with this. not instantly. and they are putting a billion dollars into it. and it's a fairly accelerated program. they believe and they should be required to demonstrate that
they can move to water depths of 10,000 feet within 24 hours. and if they can do that, that says something significant. >> to me, the answer is yes, we have the capability to respond. provided that the design and start is handed in a systemic way. you understand the risks and you have the right barriers and controls. and it starts with the well design. if the well design is robust enough to get on it in a secondary device and stop that flow. that design can exist and with others it's somewhat a challenge. >> i have some follow-up questions, and given the time i will refer to the chairman. >> i have a question for mr. west and leimkuhler.
i am very pleased to hear that the industry has got religion. how do you maintain it? how do you maintain the kind of safety case culture without going into complacency. do you have any ideas about this? >> i think that the system going on now for 20 something years. i think they have demonstrated an ability to keep the industry continuously on its toes. and because of the assumption with which they start. the burden is on the industry to demonstrate they can do this and demonstrate continually. one of the safety points is that every facility go back five years and demonstrate that it can meet new challenges. i think it's a fair question. but as i say, i think it shifts the burden. and the stakes here are the
amount of capital employed, the risk and everything demonstrated are enormous. and the companies, i think they understand that. >> yeah, the question i have, who determines? what is the regulatory structure that determines that the demonstrations are credible? >> this goes back to the question, you have to have people of sufficient competence. and at least cost bureaucratic solutions are industry solved. you are dealing with the stakes that are huge, and you have to have people of comparable quality on the other side. if you do, it works, and they have to have the tools. >> back to the first part of the question, in my mind it comes back to a healthy e.p.a.
tension, do you have it. this involves the tremendous loads that we ask our people to operate under. when i go out and ask superintendents how is your safety going. believe me, i don't want to hear that everything is fine. because that's the first onset of complacency. you want to hear that we have this going and we have areas to look. the safety is an ongoing process. some of the most riskiest operations are not the new ones. it's not the well on the frontier. everyone is aware of the risk, everyone is on their toes and they do the best they can. the disasters happen in the routine, when complacences --
complacency starts. if you have the healthy, robust operations. operational your hse case, there is a level in that operation that relate to in that case. they understand their rules, and there are tasks identified in those cases. does everyone know who is responsible on that task? safety case requires that. >> i would like to add, this is for constant improvement. and the second portion, you eluded to this, the roles of the service people and they have to be engaged in the process. it's not just the oil company and it is operators, there is a whole team involved. >> i was going to ask what are the critical challenges to maintaining such a safety culture?
and both of you have answered somewhat, but do you have last comments. what is the hardest things to overcome in maintaining such a safety culture? you said complacency in doing the routine, and you said the subcontractors and other companies. >> let me make two points. i think that creating a safety culture at the outset is not a simple undertaking. you first you have to create it. and secondly, i had that long list, and i will give you my testimony. but the fact of the matter is, it has to be something that is constantly reinforced. and there have been to be incentives and disincentives for people who don't do that. and clarity is very important. >> thank you.
>> thank you all very much for appearing. and mr. west, i have a question on mr. robert's presentation. clearly the deep water events, and at the same time the president has issued an executive order on a new national ocean policy. which calls for marine spatial planning. has to your knowledge the industry has started addressing how that factors in their planning moving ahead? are there conversations in the industry recognizing we have a new oceans policy and creates greater balance. and how will the industry participate in i would say balancing out those uses particularly in the arctic, as mr. roberts' eluded to.
are you participating in those, in the gulf, the past creates what was called but what is the approach? >> i think that the industry has an approach to be engage and that the industry has a lot of tools that add to the quality of the debate. and this engages the body of the politic, things are happening, and the industry has to be a part of that. >> are you aware that those beginning considerations on the marine spatial planning is happening? for example, fran raised the question of the large programs going forward. i am sure there is more procision in the areas identified for leasing.
is this conversation going on narrowing that approach or to have a target where they are interested in conflicted uses, whales, polar bears, etc. >> this is not a new issue, it has gone on for a long time. and the industry is very sensitive to that. and on the other side of the coin, to what extent is the policy changing participating. at this point i don't know. >> mr. chairman, we are running at the end of the call for questions. >> one brief one, following up on the comments about the industry's response of the containment corporation. and it was something to the effect that it was moving in the right direction and has the capacity to respond. and i have seen a presentation
on this, and it indeed is very impressive how the industry has come together to do this. but what kind of insurance should be required to make sure this capacity is indeed up to the task before advancing, allowing, trusting this capacity into the future? >> i think one, the question is it capable? secondly, it will be sustained? and third, will there be constant improvement in this. and my advice is with all due respect to ask the companies. that's the challenge. >> have you been involved? >> no, i haven't. shell is one. and we have counterparts. my role in that is to ensure that the well designs have absolute capability of that
system. >> thank you very much, gentlemen, we appreciate a very, instructive, informative panel. thank you for your comments. it may be that we will develop questions subsequent to this hearing. would you be willing if those were submitted in writing to continue to assist us? >> any way we can be helpful. >> to understand this important and complex issue. >> certainly. >> good, thank you very much. we will now take a break until 10:45.
regulations applied by the obama administration. this hearing expected to take place in washington most of the day. the next panel will look at drilling regulations and have that live for you. and this hearing is taking at the same time as the deep water investigation is taking place in houston. they are in their third day hearing from b.p. executives and supervisors, you can hear that live on c-span-2. this will continue with live coverage. until then your phone calls from today's "washington journal." >> let's start from florida, you probably saw the tape of kendrick meek defeating jeff
green last night, with 57% of the votes and they will face marco rubio, the republican and then charlie crist in november. from last night. >> the service worker in this state went on to serve the state legislature, and in congress. some call it career and i call it public service. i think it means something. host: and that was kendrick meek from last night, from the governor's race. and then at arizona, senator mccain with 92% of the votes. claiming victory over j.d.hayworth, but here is
senator mccain from last night. >> i promise you, i take nothing for granted. i will fight with every ounce of strength and conviction i possess, to make the case for my continued service in the senate. and the policies and principles i will advocate and defend if i am fortunate enough to be reelect reelected. host: just two results from last night. we will take your calls. the numbers for republicans, democrats, and independents. electronically email@example.com. from new york, michael on the independent line, what were you thinking of at the results? caller: i think that the republican party should go for a
person like donald trump. i mean, given that -- mccain's solution to the problem is that he marries a woman with $50 million. so he's not in the business or economy. i would pick a person like trump. this fella made a billion dollars and lost it and made it back again. he's a survivor. and trump brought out one interesting thing that i think obama is going to do. trump said take the oil that bush bought for the oil reserves for the iraq war, and put it on the national market, and it's cash in and it's stacked all over the country. and i a situation, you want a stimulus, you bring gasoline down from $3 to $1.25.
and as trump said, there are billions of barrels on the open seas and storages. host: fort smith, arkansas, john on the democratic line. fort smith, you are there? caller: yes, i am here. yes, i would like to say that democrats, everyone is saying that the republicans are going to pull it off. i mean if you really pay attention, that's nothing but another talking point for the republicans. and if they elect republicans to run the country again, what is that saying to the american people? what is that saying to the children? what is that saying to the world? host: sir, are you concerned going into november? caller: basically i am, all the
chatter going around, these talking heads doing nothing more than just bumping their gums. you know everyone should be on their toes, and to give the keys back to (inaudible), i don't think so. host: looking at last night's results from campaign 2010. grassroots and looking at candidates. cottonwood, arizona, mark on the republican line. caller: i think it was good with mccain again (inaudible) when they first started to get ahead (inaudible) down low. and now republicans are taking over (inaudible) i am utset how the democrats are wasting too much money. and especially how the president, he said and got in
office and said he was (inaudible), he has spent more time (inaudible) to go off and party or do presidential stuff. i see him flying around (inaudible). the republicans are getting back in there, and hope they can change things around and get more people back to work again. host: of senator mccain and hayworth, who did you choose? caller: i stood behind mccain. host: why so? caller: i have stood behind him, but some things i don't agree with him. but i am glad that mccain is in and not hayworth. host: miami herald has pictures
of senator meek, and those involved in the contest for the governor's race, it was rick scott that won last night. fall creek, wisconsin, dave on the republican line. caller: hello, i am 75 years old. and longer i watch these races in the politics, the more i come to the realization that we live in the greatest country in the world. and this arizona race with immigration, i see immigration, i have worked with immigrants. i have worked in 13 different states. i was in the (inaudible) working
for fertilizer (inaudible) in, and this immigration thing, the only thing i don't understand about these new immigration laws. they talk about illegal immigration. it's hard for me to understand what do these politicians don't understand about illegal. host: i will give you the numbers from the florida governor race, on the primary, 47%. florida, you are next. caller: i understand that there is four candidate in the gubernatorial race in florida.
host: the ones, democrats and republicans, yes, four candidates, and rick scott for the republicans and i think for the democrats. caller: isn't there another candidate, alex snicker? host: none that i am seeing, is he an independent candidate? caller: yes, he's in the gubernatorial race. i don't know, who is this guy, and why is he never reported on? if he's going to be on the ballot, he should be reported on; correct ? host: let me check on that. caller: and i was astonished that john mccain was able to say that he doesn't interview well. it's amazing that he managed to stay in the race. host: washington, d.c., you are
next. serle, on the democrats line, go ahead. caller: i don't even know why john mccain is running again. i am kind of confused. i don't know why he's running again. seeing through some bull he gave in the last election, why come back with a new batch. is it like that president obama is doing all he can to make america better. and i just sit back and it's ridiculous. and even with the oil spills, in 120 days he got it cleaned and showing his resiliency. it's just ridiculous. host: baton rouge, larry, on the independent line. caller: the oil is not cleaned up in louisiana, i don't know
where that guy is at. not by a longshot. and i hope to get the thieves out of here and send them back to chicago where they belong. host: looking at the alaska race, in a tight race seen as a test of the political power of sarah p sarah palin, and the movement. miller had 67% of the vote and 48% from makoklski. some other reports this morning saying that the results from that race may not be known for as much as a week. pontiac, michigan, go ahead. caller: good morning, i wanted to know, i have been watching c-span for a while.
and that the tea party people that are constantly calling in, and i just want to know. has anyone done background check on the tea party movement, who is behind it? like the choch brothers and koch that own an oil company and they transported the tea party all over different states last year to get them to rally against the health care bill. has anyone done background checks on david koch and his brother. they own an oil company. someone needs to do a background check on them. they are the ones that have been instigating all of this tea party. host: what do you think is the most important thing to learn about them? caller: the koch brothers. i know they are trying to get
rid of anything or everything that the president obama is trying to get through. and those two brothers are instrumental in trying to stop the kennedy agenda. or the bill clinton agenda. and now the obama agenda. someone needs to do a background check on them. they fund a lot of different organizations. if you can get someone on some day to find out who the koch brothers are. they own the petroleum oil company, they might do us all a favor. host: florida, next on the republican line. caller: yeah, the media has a
reflection on the election, and one thing i have seen is the omission of the information. that was brought up by a previous caller ecaller. in the florida senatorial race you never fail to mention charlie crist. but in the florida race lawton childs and running and he's never mentioned. and the omission is influential on the elected. host: the caller is correct on that. there are the three candidates for governor. maryland, you are next. caller: yes, good morning, this country has four major problems, which if we could overcome,
would put us back on the road. number one, lack of jobs. number two, illegal or legal. and three is the lack of jobs, and last but not least term limits. why people like mccain, byrd, some of the senators and congressmen and governors who have been in office for more than six years feel that they contribute to the betterment of this country, really i don't understand it. i really support term limits, six years you are out. and thank you very much for c-span. host: we will continue taking calls if you want to call in looking at last night. and look at other stories, this is from "the washington post." a suicide office, the pentagon should create a new office --
>> you can see "washington journal" every morning at 7 eastern, and see more this afternoon just after noon eastern with your phone calls. and back to the live coverage of the offshore oil drilling. the second panel. >> another b.p. oil spill disaster and should prepare the nation if another should occur. this morning i would like to refer to the oscha, that governs offshore activity and with planning and risk and harm posed by the action at each stage of
the o.p.s., and the agency currently viewing them, o.e.m.. and the statute that guides should contain those standards so this is the case. our ocean conditions are the most threatened on the planet. and from policies around the globe found that climate change and other stressors combine and degrade the health of ocean ecosystems and those that depend on them. president obama recognized these problems in the 2009 charge of the task force and he named expanding and industrial and renewing energy and shipping and those that place compounding demands on the ecosystem.
he recognized these problems yet again in the 2010 order, where he reminds of the stark reminder of the vulnerability of our systems and the nations that rely on them -- and the communities that rely on them. as president obama's executive order establishes for future federal action, ocs activities should be brought into the 21st century. at a minimum making this change is to institutional the rigors and review necessary to address the real risk of oil and gas development. guiding ochpa is written for
development of analysis and review. and i will provide for the review in the past and for the b.p. well, and then to modify a statute for stronger institutions for science decision making and review. ochsa is the secretary and d.o.i. for planning and leasing for oil in four stages. for the purpose of my testimony, i will refer to the mineral's statute, and for the instances forward, i will refer to the o.e.m.
this is a five-year program for leasing. in stage two, it evaluates bids and leases for particular tracts. and in stage three, it reviews plans for the oil and gas developers and whether to allow the developers to drill on the purpose-leased tracts. if it's found that it holds recoverable reserves, it must submit for approvals. in most industries this is known as a development plan. however in other areas it provides other documents. at all stages of this process, the o.e.m. is to hold to the
policies of affecting quality of the human environment. requiring federal agencies to take a hard look at the consequences of there actions. until the dissolution, mms was the need for this implementation and this was meant to ensure that oil, gas, planning and activities conforms to neka. this depicts the stages of this process compared with an neka review requirements. i will walk you through the stages of ochksa. in stage one, a five-year plan program, of the extent and timing and locations of new o .
o.c.s. activity. the point is to lay broad plans for the next five years and the impact those plans may bring. at end of stage one, no leases are sold. however, later leases may only go forward if in a five year program. stage one is depicted in yellow in this figure. each program must possess a range of many things including sharing of regions, and other comparing of cpc fed, and the sensitivity and marine productivity of the areas covered. notably not for frontier areas that have not been previously
explored and developed. they provide for the state government and attorney general for conformance. the o.p.m. must require this, and not requiring them to consult with other federal agencies at this stage. to comply with e.p.a. in stage one, for the action affecting the quality of the human environment. because this e.i. s. is so broad, it's part of the oil and gas leasing program. which plans all activities nationwide. issuing this program in 2007. in stage two, where the planning
for a specific lease fill takes place is depicted in green on this figure. and the phrase, particular lease fill can be misleading, with many in a single sale. 206 had 29 million acres, larger than the state of ohio. during the subsequent 45-day common period the industry identifies the blocks of the leasing program they want to lease. the public can identify areas of the leasing where it should not take place. then the review of the compliance and the proposed
sale. the o.e.m.has a draft e.i. s. and holds public hearings. following the public hearing is a 35-day comment period. during the review, requiring federal agencies to develop measures such as lease stipulations and to mitigate adverse impacts. and they must refer to the state and government parties for the sale. following the publications of the final e.i. s., they post a public lease of sale, requiring them to send it to the governor for a comment period.
in fact, the potential discussion of oil spills was even more generic. even though the purpose of cheering off of a programmatic eis is to appropriate the general information found in focus on more specific geographic areas in the later and more detailed analyses, this environmental assessment contained more general rather than more specific analysis. this is exactly the opposite of what tiering was meant to accomplish. in stage three, boem conducts -- the expiration plan may encompass multiple leases. each exploration plan is required to describe the activities and operator will undertake, including the general
location of each will to be drilled in any other information deemed purpose -- deemed pertinent to the oem. the plan must demonstrate the operator will obey regulations and any additional lease provisions. it must also demonstrate the operator will adhere to sound conservation practices and its activities will not cause undue or serious harm or damage to human, marine, or coastal and fireman's. within 30 days after deeming in exploration plan complete, the oem must improve it, required the plan be modified if it's inconsistent with requirements for terms of the lease or disapprove the exploration plan. the oem must disapprove a plan that would cause serious harm or damage to life, including fish and other aquatic life, property, and the mineral, the national security or defense, or
the marine, coastal, or human environment. list of proposed activities cannot be proposed to modify armor damage. if it is disapproved for any of these reasons, they may cancel the underlying lease, but it must provide compensation to the owner if it does so. agencies have been authorized to use categorical exclusion to avoid preparing environmental assessment and environmental impact statements for actions which to not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the environment. mms used to categorical exclusions where did to use exploration activities in the gulf of mexico. the extraordinarily short 30-day time frame for exploration plan review has been identified for the chief reason categorical exclusion have been used.
the former director stated this statutory obligation of a 30 day review limits the ability of the agency to conduct environmental reviews. the use of categorical reviews is questionable for many reasons, including that mms establish them in 1981 and 1986 long before deepwater drilling became feasible or widespread and long before mms could understand the increased risk with the available technology. aerosol of the liberal use of categorical exclusion set of -- in 2010, the director directed the agency to narrow its use of categorical exclusion and forbade the agency to use them for exploration plans in certain circumstances. the memo remains in force while it is reviewed.
in the gulf of mexico's western planning area connolly's operators have development documents and set of development and production plans. the development and production plan includes the location of the proposed well and facilities and a schedule of the development activities. you can see the difference between the treatment the standard development and protection plan, where an eis used where in the gulf of mexico, a categorical exclusion is used. according to the oem, adocd --
but development and production plans receive different levels of review. if the department of manual explicitly precludes development in the gulf of mexico from actions normally requiring an eix. they're free to invoke categorical exclusion that would allow one in the central gulf of mexico to bypass any environmental review. within 25 working days of receiving a develop production plan and supporting material and the materials are sufficiently accurate, the oem deems the plan
submitted and then there are two working days to send the plan to the governor each affected state and the executive of the affected local government request a copy. they have two working days to submit the plan to the designated agency of each affected state for consistency review under the federal coastal zone management act. government officials have 60 days to submit comments and recommendations. if the recommendations are rejected, the best explain themselves in writing. any federal person also has 60 days to submit comments to a regional supervisor, however oem the is not required to respond to the recommendations. as you can see, the structure contains a number of significant shortcomings with respect to the role of science and
environmental review. these shortcomings are present at every stage of the planning and leasing process. i recommend six legal and policies reforms. first, a protection and restoration of the first marine ecosystems a national policy consistent with the president of 2010 executive order and the final round -- final recommendations of the ocean policy task force. when safeguarding health the endeavour's ecosystems is in conflict with other policies, it should be stated that actions that protect these qualities should take priority. second, and end the program to designate sister agencies of science and marine source expertise and responsibility, the u.s. environmental protection agency, the national fisheries service, national this and wildlife service, and u.s. coast guard as cooperating agencies for the purpose of compliance.
this will significantly strengthen their consultation role but maintain the strong role for affected states and the u.s. attorney general. third, and and to clarify and strengthen interagency consultation requirements, including requirements for the oem to consult its sister early for consultations it disagrees with. fourth, amended to require more comprehensive and detailed environmental review commensurate the scope, complexity and potential for adverse impact of the activities of consideration. paraphrasing the u.s. supreme court -- it cannot be guaranteed that there will be wise decisions but the application can guarantee well informed decisions when agencies apply themselves to take a hard look at potential environmental impacts and implement it to the fullest extent possible. with regard to compliance, i
recommend a few recommendations if you've been my forgiveness for exceeding my time. first, the 30 day deadline for review of the exploration plans and cursory environmental review. it should be amended to eliminate or at least extend this deadline. exploration plans should not be deemed complete until all content and analysis they're required to contain are in fact completed an adequate for decision making based on best available science. project proponents that used categorical exclusions to circumvent the environmental review of exploration plans in the gulf of mexico should not be permitted to do so moving forward. >> we are going to have to summarize and wrap up, please. >> to summarize, the last 2.7 like to mate, several of the -- i would like the last two points i would like to make, prior to
our indulging in oil exploration and development, i believe this is a very important recommendation and it warrants further attention by this commission that i have several specific recommendations along those lines. finally, the restructuring of the oem is very important to make sure the scientific capacity of that bureau is not house within the collection divisions but maintains some independence and autonomy. may make sense to house the scientific portion in the enforcement bureau, but its importance to give it its own independent division. with this, i believe it can move forward with the ocean exploration and drilling in turn the corner with science-based environmentally sustainable use
that coexist with other important uses of our ocean and still maintain the health and sustainability of these fragile ecosystems. thank you very much. >> we gave you extra time to his every complicated scenario to make sense to us. i think i do understand the environmental impact assessment process. i've never been clear and that not clear on environmental assessments, but perhaps we will get clear as we go forward. >> thank you very much. could you go into more detail on the issue of boem consulting with other agencies required that other agencies provide information? how would you actually define the way it exists now and how you envision it exists said the
other agencies you identified have a more equal role in identifying the environmental impacts? >> the whole point of consultation is to take advantage of the expertise that reside in our specialty agencies. we have several agencies to have unique expertise and science- based experience in the marine whelm -- the marine realm. these agencies are actually uniquely capably s -- uniquely capable of providing expert and scientific advice to boem and for that reason, they should be the first agencies boem turns to to understand what the risks and vulnerabilities of the systems are and what the
potential risks are for any kind of environmental harm and and how to address them. the classic way to do this, where you have an agency boem like -- in agency liked boem, is to designate those agencies as cooperating agencies. once that is done, then dealing with the clock ready agencies comes into play. i thought this was an important point and i am glad you asked about it. what happens with the cooperating agency, the lead agency in this case, the department interior has to ask for early engagement from these cooperating agencies. then each cooperating agency has an obligation to participate in the process at the earliest possible time and provide comments to participate in the scoping and what have you.
then, boem has an obligation to respond to the comments and recommendations. what is interesting about the framework is that it puts coastal states and the u.s. attorney general in a much stronger position than our federal trustee agencies have unique qualifications to be able to provide recommendations on ocs drilling and exploration. by designating them as cooperating agencies, ely's bring them up to par in par with the -- you at least bring them up to par, but they still did not have the degree of power that coastal states and the attorney general would have. >> is it your impression at this point that the scientific information that is available
in the federal government is utilize in decision making? the decisiond in incorporating the environmental review. i think it is often looked at as a process where the boxes are checked rather than a tool for decisionmaking in and out come in ocs leasing. yet identified the stipulations required, but what is your opinion? >> a good example would be the review that mms conducted for the macondo well, where the documents indicated there were over 90% probability of a high consequence of them, but the assessment, the degree of oil that might be spelled in that i
consequence is that was grossly mis-underestimated. so a portion of the document is grossly underestimating what the actual spillage would be and that has direct consequences for planning. for what he would be looking for out of the oil response plan and what you'd be looking for in the way of capabilities and technologies that would be applied in the exploration drilling process. >> it has been said and we will probably be gathering information to validate the statement -- the site of the macondo drill was one of the more difficult sites in the gulf. maybe that accounts for the 90% you just made.
it has also been said that bp had one of the worst records in the gulf and the terms of the violations. we heard testimony earlier today that the drilling techniques were not what this gentleman considered to be state of the art. is it within the current process or with your recommendations -- is there any way to match the competence of of the applicant for the right to drill with the complexity of the particular site upon which the drilling is going to take place so that some companies might be judged as an eligible to compete for a lease in areas where the complexity appeared to render their past record of performance unacceptable? >> there are couple of ways to
answer your question. one way of dealing with that problem would be to have expressed pre-qualification requirements for lessees in order to move forward with drilling. some kind of demonstration of capacity to actually respond to oil spills of the magnitude that would be expected under even a low probability, i consequence situation. one could also require certification under penalty of perjury from the applicants which would shift the burden to the applicant to demonstrate capability and deal with that. >> i'm going to ask you to submit a more detailed answer for the record. we unfortunately have a time
constraint affecting our later presenters. so i'll have to close down this part of the session. great things for you being here. >> thank you and i would be happy to respond to more questions in writing. >> i wish to say i assume the responsibility for mrs. caldwell overrunning our time. >> you have slapped your own rest. the next presentation -- interagency consultation and planning. the chair of the council on environmental quality. welcome. and the undersecretary of oceans and atmosphere and noaa administrator. >> thank you mr. chairman and members of the commission for this opportunity to address you today. i will give you an overview of
the national environmental policy act process and how it relates to agency actions and informs federal decisionmaking with leasing exploration and permitting of offshore drilling facilities. also discuss the results of our review of the minerals management service's procedures for the outer continental shelf oil and gas exploration and bellmen. a report on which we released a couple weeks ago. this year marks the 40th anniversary, a cornerstone of our modern environmental protection. it was passed with overwhelming support in 1970 and signed by president nixon. nearly all federal activity affects the environment. under the program, federal agencies have an affirmative obligations to consider the
environmental impact of their decisions by insuring high quality information is available to government officials and members of the public. the council on environmental quality itself is a creation of nepa and was established to work with the federal government overseeing agency implementation of the environmental impact process. the environmental review process is a procedural tool for informed agency decision making that insures agencies look before they leap. the review process should begin when an agency proposes and action. the degree of review required is calibrated to the significance of the expected environmental impact. when an agency can to is -- an agency considers taking an action at all have significant environmental of facts, it must
prepare an environmental impact statement. if the agency is uncertain about whether a proposed action will have significant environmental effects, it can prepare an environmental assessment to determine whether a full eis is needed. based on past actions, the agency may determine a proposed action falls within the category of actions that do not normally have significant impacts on the environment. in this case and action -- in this case, an action may be excluded from further environmental review. each agency in the federal government is responsible for its own compliance with nepa, including establishing rules and procedures. to help with this car regulations interpreting the procedural provisions. the purpose of nepa is not to
generate paper work, even excellent paper work, but to a foster index lent action. each agency's procedures must adapt to this specific authorities and decision making process these. and agencies nepa are not finalized until they're determined to be in conformity with nepa and at the regulations. any subsequent revisions are subsidies -- are subject to the same oversight. they don't review every application of nepa or the documents prepared for each agency decision. ceq periodically reviews implementing regulations and procedures as well as the overall program implementation. for example, in february of this year, for draft guidance documents were released to stop federal agencies in meeting the
policy goals of nepa. as i will discuss in a moment, this has become an important vehicle for incorporating the lessons learned from the spill to improve the implementation going forward, both at the new bureau of the ocean energy management and enforcement and across the federal government. before i get to that forward- looking effort, let me take a moment to describe the lessons we have learned from the review of the procedures applied to the planning and permitting decisions involving the deepwater horizon. on august 18th, a report was released revering the practices and procedures used by the department of interior's minerals management service 40 agency decisions involving the outer continental shelf oil leasing process and drilling permit for the macondo well illegal of mexico. given the complexities of
pending and future litigation, the report did not evaluate the subsequent adequacy of specific analyses and documents. the purpose of our review was to understand how nepa was applied and develop applications for it -- develop recommendations for the practice going forward. the review found that there were several analyses prepared the gulf of mexico leases. environmental impact the statements gama's intends level of analyses, were prepared add to decision point. in april 2007, mm beens prepared a broad eis on the offshore plan, including the lease plan for 2007-2012. in april of 2007, minerals management service prepared environmental impact statement for the oil and gas lease sales
in the western and central planning areas, what has been called the multi-sale eif. in october, 2007, mms completed another analysis for the gulf of mexico lease sale to under six. this is the sale of in which the lease was sold for a the macondo exploration well. after the lease was issued, bp issue exploration plan and revise the plan for the proposed macondo well block 52 in the gulf of mexico. the exploration plan was approved following too categorical exclusion reviews completed in april 2009. mms approved bp's drilling application under a categorical exclusion. our report concluded that while
mms conducted numerous level of environmental reviews, its but nepa could be improved in a number of areas. first ,mms relies on the tiering process. be this bright as the help of the decision maker focus on the issues that are trying to get that particular decision. but agencies rely on tiering, they must make sure the general information from one reverses' carried forward affectively and transparently in subsequent reviews. the other reviews must be independently evaluated in the context of site-this unbending environment and packs. -- this way, the environmental consequences of the decision to be understood. in the review, it was unclear
and difficult to ascertain what environmental information was carried through to site-specific reviews. then future analyses, it should be made sure that the cheering process is easy to understand. it's also part of the authorization of the macondo well, mms relied on existing categorical exclusion to approve the plan and subsequent drilling applications for bp. these categorical exclusion for established in 1981 and, in 1986, prior to the deepwater leasing boom in the 1990's. although some parts of bp's exploration plan included oil spill information pertinent to drilling activities including the macondo well, this nepa reviewers did not prepare a site-specific analysis to that location to assess impacts from a potential spill. whenmms approved the plan, its
knowledge for the potential of spill impact was steered to prior analyses, based on a documented historical record, a catastrophic spill the level of the deepwater horizon incident was not analyzed. it is unclear whether the relevant information about the potential for a spill at this specific site and its consequences was conveyed to the decision makers who applied the categorical exclusions to bp's exploration plans and drilling projects. the report makes several recommendations to improve the environmental review process for offshore oil and gas activities. the department of interior has committed to using these acts -- these recommendations as they continue their reforms and reorganization activities. ongoing assistance will be provided to the department of
the interior on this effort. let me summarize these recommendations. first, boem has agreed to perform careful and comprehensive nepa of deepwater exploration activities and to track and take into account all mitigation commitments made in nepa and decision documents. boem also wants to make sure they fully align with the subsequent decisions and all decision points. subsequent analyses accurately reflect and carry forward relevant underlying data and that those analyses will be fully available to the decision maker and the public. in addition, boem is committed to ensure documents provide decision makers with their robust analysis of reasonably foreseeable impacts, including those associated with low probability catastrophic spills for oil and gas activities on
the outer continental shelf. on august 18th, it was announced that boem will restrict its use of categorical development involving limited environmental risks while it undertakes a comprehensive review of its nepa practices. andy's of categorical exclusion for operation and drilling on the ocs. the categorical exclusion for these activities needs to be examined in light of today's deeper drilling debt, more complex technology, and more associated risk. it was also announced to the interior department that they intend to complete a supplemental environmental impact statement in the gulf of mexico that will help provide information to guide future leasing and development decisions. when that review is complete,
boem will announce a new nepa compliance that takes into account the reports of statutory and regulatory constraints and other appropriate factors. as i stated earlier, in february 2010, for draft guidance documents were released to assist all agencies in meeting the policy goals of nepa. one of these documents addresses categorical exclusion like the one applied to bp's drilling agreement for the macondo well. these have been used since the late 1970's. when appropriately established and apply a, it serves a beneficial purpose, allowing federal agencies to streamline the environment were reprocessed for proposed actions that do not normally have a significant varmints and packs so that they can focus their efforts and resources on action said to have
significant impacts. in recent years, the number and range of activities categorically excluded has expanded. the opportunity for public involvement has underscored the need for guidance in this area. given these circumstances, we are right -- we are increasing our -- it clarifies when it's appropriate
is committed to ensuring -- noaa is committed to achieving that outcome. there also committed to working with other agencies to strengthen the overall decision making process. based on the comprehensive test resource and an ocean science responsibilities, we have a strong interest in ensuring the oil and gas decisions use the best available science to ss and minimize the potential impacts of oil and gas activities on living marine resources. noaa wants to assure to minimize the impact should a spill occurs are and make sure impact on living marine resources are addressed and minimize. we're working closely with agencies to expand opportunities for shared expertise in assessment science. noaa is the lead ocean science
agency and has scored a boem dated was on a number of assessments in the past. this administration is committed to continuing to develop and -- developed effective collaboration across agencies and will continue to work together to strengthen the relationships between the two departments and build the capacity to respond to the request for independent science. staff believes the most useful exchange of information and expertise occurs when noaa is consulted early in the process as acorn dating agency or co lead. we cannot alternatives, terms and conditions to -- we can offer alternatives terms and conditions for oil and gas activities. i believe we are fortunate in reevaluating our approach to offshore gas and development at the same time the administration
begins to implement the new national ocean policy and marine special planning framework. the national ocean policy and national coaching council will increase coordination and data sharing among agencies and insurer we are all working toward the same goal of sustainability. human uses of our coast, including development is expanding at a rate to challenge our ability to manage them under the sector by sector approach. the new framework will create opportunities to implement pro- active science-based approaches to multiple use management. it creates the opportunity to connect cumulative impact assessments, risk assessment, and specific trade off analyses, hopefully leading to more informed decisions about oil and gas development and other ocean industries and environmental protection. it brings all parties to the table at the start of the planning process, allowing all relevant information to play a
larger role in siting decisions as recommended previously. in conclusion, i believe the bp deepwater horizon spill shows the need to better integrate environmental science early in the decisionmaking process these relative to offshore oil and gas development and noaa is concerned about the possibility of a similar event happening elsewhere, especially in the arctic region where our response cannot be as comprehensive and our knowledge about how oil behaves in a frigid waters and the impact it might have on the ecosystem is not as good as it is in warmer waters. noaa is ready to expand its role in addition gas decision making. we are committed to enhancing our stewardship responsibilities related to coastal and ocean resources and believe these goals are strongly compatible with better coordinated. we appreciate the important work the commission is doing and willing to provide all of the
information on any of these issues. thank you for the opportunity to be before you today and i look forward to addressing any questions you may have. >> thank you. thank you for your presentations. our lead questioners will be dr. bosch and mr. garcia. >> it is very good to see you both again, even though it's just a short walk from your respective offices, we know your schedules are tight and hectic and we appreciate your being here. i appreciate the summary of the nepa consultation and planning process that is being revised in response to this bill, specifically with boem and i'm now please we have the correct pronunciation of the acronym. my question -- and surely will
dig deeper into this and my colleagues will ask questions and it's an ongoing process and i hope you keep as inform as this moves toward. -- keep us informed as this moves forward. i questions has to do with policy that has been enacted just this year. one is the decision to consider expanding offshore oil and gas development elsewhere in the gulf of mexico and beyond. second is the new ocean policy from mark, specifically -- coastal marine planning. with respect to the president's announcement of considering this expansion last march, how extensive was the interagency consultation prior to the president's announcement expanding in these areas and what was the assessment of the
agency resources required by this decision and action as well as not only for scientific research but additional regulatory responsibility? that's my first question. the second has to do with grain special planning. this is a new framework. how specifically might it be applied and used both in the existing developed area in the gulf of mexico as well as in the expanded areas with respect to decisions in area-wide leasing and both the decision as well as the implications of the new ocean policy? >> thank you for the question period with respect to the march announcement and the review of the 2007-2012 plan, it was
conducted under the secretary of interior authority under ocsla in response to litigation about the environmental sensitivity analysis. for any decisions or any actions that would be undertaken as a result of the announcement in march, they will have to evaluate first whether they have to do additional environmental analysis to supplement what was already done for the 2007-2012 plan and any decisions about lease sales that might result from the changes in that plan. then, for the other
announcements that have to do more with the 2012-2017 plan, they will have to go -- it will have to undergo whatever environmental review they need to undergo in any case. i don't think the decisions in march were intended to prejudge the outcome of any environmental analysis required as a result of those decisions. part of it was a result of the secretary's review under his authority and i think that raises the issue that you have for the statutory framework spear -- the frameworks here, the response requirement of the oil pollution act of 1990 and nepa and just to go back to our
report, to make sure the information that the secretary or the director of boem or whoever is making the decision considers, it doesn't matter from which statute it alliterates -- which statute it originates, it should be considered in each step in the decisionmaking. with respect to the coastal marine spatial planning, what we try to lay out in the final report of the ocean policy task force was a process for what we think would be more informed decision making much in the spirit of nepa and as we go forward with this, it is important that all agencies involved in this, including the department of the interior, noaa and other agencies, we need
to bring the right information to the table so that these regional plans reflect the best understanding of the state of the oceans in that region and the expected uses and how to interact. we think this is a very important step forward and we have good cooperation and participation from the agencies to have other statutory responsibilities over portions of the ocean and ocean resources. >> i think their response is pretty comprehensive. i would reiterate that we have had formal and informal agency discussions at various points along the way in this process and are continuing to do that. we have not had very substantial discussions about
resources required to do the various steps, but that's part of the process and we are in the middle of that and continue to have those interactions. >> i would be remiss if i did not ask about how much oil and where did it go? initially, the estimates of the oil coming out of the well were quite low. we have now learned is substantially more than that and adjustments have been refined, but generally increased overtime. more recently, there's the issue of the fate of the oil. i understand this will all be clarified as time goes on and more research results are revealed. just this week, we have important resources -- important research as far as the fate of the underwater plants and the bio degradation. i think it's helping scientists to understand and hopefully the public will understand about how
this material goes away, either through dilution or degradation. but you have been in the middle of these. what can you tell us with respect to the decisions and analyses that went on to estimate the amount of oil being released and where did it go from the standpoint of lessons learned? what can we do to make sure we have the right technical expertise in early? how can we tell the public what we know what the range of possibilities are? how can we help people understand what this means in terms of long-term consequences? are there lessons you have learned through this process we might want to think about in our recommendations for the future? >> as you know, this administration is committed to being open and transparent. in that spirit, much of the
information that was being put together within and across agencies to inform the federal response, the decision making process has been made public in the sense of full disclosure and keeping everybody informed. once there has been an appropriate process for quality assurance and quality control, noaa has immediate responsibilities as the science advisers to the coastguard under situations such as this one. but there has been a very extensive interagency scientific effort to wrestle with some of the tough challenges, how much oil is flowing, where is it going and those kinds of things. early on, there was a flow rate technical group that step that
was interagency, to try to get a good handle on this very difficult question. we did not have direct measurements, we only have information that was in direct and of very poor quality. throughout process, there has been a commitment to share what we know now, understanding it would be modified as new information came to the fore. that is very much what has happened with the flow rate technical group and the question of how much oil is leaking. the most recent report of that group which was supplemented by additional input from the department of energy once we can actually take real pressure measurements inside the relevant structures. so now we know on the order of 4.9 million barrels was released, plus or minus 10%.
that's the result of the interagency process. that's the first question -- how much oil was coming out and what was the rate and how much total? the second question is where did it go? early on in the process, there was an interagency effort put together to develop a we call and will budget calculator, which was to inform the federal response -- and oil budget calculator. that involves where is the well on the surface and where is the oil subsurface? there was very extensive use of satellite information, planes and observers to detect oil on the surface. u.s.g.s. and they department of interior brought some instruments to bear. there was instruments on a nasa plane -- was a very much an interagency effort. it's much easier to get a handle on what is at the service and what is below the surface.
the oil budget calculator tool was designed to keep -- to take all of that input and use the current flow rate estimates as they were being modified and refined to give us a sense of where is the oil and how should the response ever be most strategic. the oil budget calculator combines things the chicken measure directly with a high degree of confidence and things that are estimates. there was extensive discussion by the scientists involved including input from outside scientists about as different things that had to be estimated. we came up with the famous pie chart now which was the current understanding of where did you will go, which is not
necessarily where it is now. at a difficult thing for people to understand. the oil pipe chart really describes our best current understanding of where did you will go. it's a very basic question and there is keen interest in it. we decided instead of just keeping it internally, we should share it with the public, understanding there are estimates and that this will be refined through time. we we can measure directly the oil that was recovered from the well. that is in direct measurement. the other numbers are all the estimates. we estimated a quarter of the oil had been evaporated. we estimated a quarter of the oil had been recovered, burned, or skimmed. we estimated one-third of one-
quarter had dispersed below the surface as a result of both natural dispersion and chemical dispersion. of the natural dispersion, twice as much oil was the first naturally as was chemically. we are trying to understand where is it? a quarter of the 4.9 million was, at some point, beneath the surface. we have gotten clear evidence from many of the research efforts under way that that is not a lake of the undersea oil. i think it is more appropriately described as a cloud of highly diluted droplets, less than a micron, the thickness of a human hair, microscopic droplets, that
as they spread away from the wellsite, moved by ocean currents, become more and more dilute. away from the wellsite, the concentration moves from parts per million two parts per billion. that is hard to understand, but it is pretty dilute. if you took some water at a depth of where this plume is come in with the clear. you cannot see it because it is so highly believed. -- dilte. -- dilute. however, that does not mean that it is benign. we continue to have concerns about the impact that the oil had when it was first released, as well as continue to have, until it is completely
biodegraded. that was a third quarter of the pie, if you will. the remaining quarters in is will you cannot easily account for year by -- is oil you cannot easily account for by reasonable or easy estimates. that accounts for sheen, other oil that has washed up on the beaches. or oil that had been removed from beaches, oil that has been by a degraded. i know everyone wants clarity about exactly where it goes. that remains our best estimate of what happened to the oil. there continues to be interest at the raid in which the oil is being by a degraded. there are microbes in the ocean that essentially eat the
hydrocarbons. that is under way. as you know, as a scientist, there was concern early on that there were so many hydrocarbons that it would trigger a massive explosion of microbes, and that would lead to a dead zone, where all the microbes would use up the oxygen in the water. that is one reason why we and many of our economic partners have been consistently measuring dissolved oxygen as well as characterizing exactly where this undersea oil is, what concentrations, what impact it is having. it will be quite some time before we know the impact but it is safe to say the rate of degradation has not been so fast that it has triggered low oxygen. it is lowering the oxygen, there
is microbial activity, but not so low that it has created a bad tone. at the same time, the oil is degrading and a relatively quickly rate. that is because the conditions in the gulf are conducive to that. this is an area of active investigation. admiral allen announced that there would be a significantly enhanced effort between the oferal government' and many our active partners to get a better handle on exactly where this subsurface oil is in the rate it is degrading. it will be a continual effort to understand. i particularly believe we have seen many impacts of this bill that are more visible and obvious, to the sea turtles, marshes, estuaries, birds.
what is sight unseen is probably equally problematic but is harder to characterize and understand. of particular concern are the buildable stages, eggs, larvae, young things that might come in contact with those microscopic drops of oil. this is an area where we will continue to work very intensely with our other federal partners as well as with our economic partners, and we will continue to share information as soon as we feel comfortable it is the right information. we do not believe in withholding it. we want to get information out as quickly as we think is responsible. >> mr. chairman, i will administer a quiz over lunch. >> we are looking forward to it.
mr. garcia? >> thank you both for your testimony. i want to come back to a question that dr. bosch asked. this is for both of you. please comment on the extent and nature of the consultation that took place prior to the president's announcement to expand leasing activities. ms. lubchenco, as you are responding, could you tell us how noaa participated in that, and how your recommendations for advice were followed or accepted? >> from cq's perspective, we had used those decision and announcement within the purview of the secretary of interior, his possibilities under ocsla.
our expectation for anything that is the result of that, doi and boem have been responsibility to conduct the program level of analysis under nepa. we were not asked and would not expect to be asked ahead of time, what level of analysis is appropriate for the kinds of planning and decisions that result from that march announcement. >> i am happy to provide, in writing, a more detailed response, if that would be
useful to the commission. >> please do. >> what i would like to say is, the process, as it exists now, enables agencies, such as noaa, with either a specific statutory responsibilities such as i mentioned in my testimony, or other responsibilities to come and -- comment at various points in the decision making process. we have taken advantage of those opportunities, more or less, throughout the process if you look through history. sometimes there were much more substantial comments and others. -- than others.
in this administration, comments we have provided have been quite substantial and quite detailed, and in making decisions, this administration has been responsive to many of the comments that we have submitted. >> ok. you said the administration had been responsive to the comments. are there comments that you have made where you do not feel the response was adequate? >> certainly, not all of our suggestions were acted upon. sometimes comments are in the form of, we have a concern, and
that can be taken into account -- there are large areas of uncertainty in all of this. sometimes, concerns can be raised without an immediate, obvious way to deal with those concerns. i would say the concerns we raised were listened to and many of them were incorporated into the final decision, but not all of them. >> you have made the point that baseline scientific data is critical to making these decisions. do you feel, at noaa, within the federal government, that there is adequate base line scientific data to be making oil and gas decisions in some of the critical areas where he will be asked to abide on? >> clearly, --
>> if not, do you have the resources to obtain that data? >> i think there has been an honest attempt to make the best use of information available, but oftentimes, there is insufficient information that would not be deemed adequate to do comprehensive analysis. if, for example, one is conducting a full on eis, then oftentimes the is insufficient information to do that in as comprehensive a fashion as would be inappropriate. -- appropriate. >> when it comes to nepa, ceq's regulations places the responsibility on lead agencies,
agencies that have expertise to participate in the process. >> could i just add, and the review that ceq conducted highlights in number of improvements that can be made in the process that we would support. we really believe, from the standpoint of noaa and the expertise we have to offer, as well as our responsibilities for stewardship, fisheries, sanctuaries, a protected species, our best served if we have an opportunity to participate as a cooperative agency, as a co-lead, and as early as possible, in the process.
we believe there should be at least environmental assessment at every step in the process and a full eis at the last two steps, for example. from our perspective, those steps would be inappropriate in ensuring the balancing of environmental concerns with energy demands. >> we will probably have to send you some additional questions, but if i were to happen, do you have the resources to effectively carry out your responsibilities, would you need additional resources? >> we are seriously hampered to do a lot of these things because the resources, especially under the time frame that is often required. i was pleased to see discussion of the time frame in many of the
discussions today, because they are problematic for multiple reasons. one of them is it constrains what is really possible. if you do not have resources to have people deployed to do lots of different ongoing things that are happening simultaneously, it is a real challenge. >> chairman sutley, there has been discussion about separating the regulatory function from the leasing function at boem, mms, and but if you read the post article this morning, clearly, mms did not make the decisions in a vacuum. is it affective to merely shift the regulatory responsibility to another agency within the same department? they both report to the secretary of the interior.
or do we have to do something more aggressive? >> i think the secretary's proposal and actions to separate those functions is an important step. i would say one concern that you would have to weigh off is the additional independence. one day we found was there was a lot of information that was at generated within mms, but even within mms come in different places --, in different places. we want to better integrate information. information that was developed by the planning part of the mms, integrated into nepa, and then
the ultimate decision making, probabilities of oil spills, responding to those. i think we see how difficult it was to make sure that that information was shared, even in the existing structure of mms the question of what would happen if this was sent off to a and independent agency on the regulatory side, i do not know the answer to that, but that is something you may want to consider. >> hawaii would invite comments on the following four questions -- i would invite comment on the following four questions. what changes should we make to
the nepa process? what do you have to say about the gulf of mexico restoration, in terms of the funding and management, in a multistate, complex jurisdiction where a lot of planning has been done but not much action? there is tremendous opportunity right now. do you think marine special planning, some sort of comprehensive planning assessment, should be built into ocsla? in other words, showed ocsla the amended 75-year lease plan, there should be a more comprehensive assessment proposed? knowr four, and doesn't have the resources, capacity -- does noaa have the resources come capacity to study this bill in the arctic? if you could comment on them quickly, fine, i just want to hear your response.
thank you. >> to your second question, goal of mexico restoration, resources and management, that has been turned given to secretary mavis. there is a lot of discussion about that underway. many of us are anxious to see his report. there have been a lot of discussions about that. i know that you know that. i would offer that comment. >> i would take one of the particular challenge of dealing with restoration in the gulf of mexico, which is already in a fragile and stressed stakte. in march of this year, we lead
in interagency group looking at what the bears were 2 affected ecosystem restoration in the gulf of mexico. in louisiana, mississippi coastal restoration. as the secretary gets ready to release his report, it is important that we are dealing and already stressed in our men and significant barriers to restoration, and we within government, the to make sure that we take care of those things, if we are going to see the gulf of mexico restored. just a quick comment, and then we can provide more response in writing in terms of the marine special planning. we are proposing this under special authority.
whether it is ocsla as it currently exists, using any number of statutes. one of the things that we hope to gain from the experience of going through this planning process is to see if we can fully reap the benefits of it even under the existing statutes, or if we need to make changes. at this point, it may be too early to tell. >> chairman graham. >> i want to go back to the question that commissioner bosch and garcia were asking. this is in reference to announcing the expansion of offshore gas exploration but ways the need to balance domestic energy sources and the need to protect america's natural resources. he previously had said this is not a decision i have made
lightly. it is a decision that can tell us are, carol browner, and others in the administration looked at closely for over a year. i gather from what you said earlier, you were not one of those who had been tasked to look at the issue. is that correct? >> we have not been specifically asked for anything. i know the secretary was engaged in a number of discussions, including public meetings around the country to see where oil and gas drilling was appropriate. >> dr. lubchenco, you indicated you would respond with written materials to the degree that you were one of those in the administration tasked to look
at this matter, in addition to your advice. i would be interested in that. also, what you have to say about the resources you would have to carry out your responsibilities in this expanded area, and the degree to which you have an understanding that those resources will be made available. >> so you are asking if we had the proper resources or if we currently have them? >> i am asking two questions. the first is responding to the president's statement, and others in my administration look at this closely for one year. you were part of that close look, and that you would provide written materials as to what your recommendations were, based on that. the second question relates to
the resources that were required by your agency to carry on into this possibility in this expanded area. were you asked to identify with those additional resources would be? what is your confidence, that in this expanded area for offshore oil and gas exploration, that you will have the capacity to carry out your responsibility? >> and i was not directly involved in reviewing the plans. what i said earlier was that there had been agency-to-agency consultation with respect to comment, based on earlier comments from various five-year plans that were taken into account in the formulation of what the president announced in march. there was consultation, there
was dialogue. i was not in a position to be formally approving or disapproving the plan. we were not asked specifically if we had the resources to execute a responsibility under those. >> now i am confused because earlier i thought you said that you would have considered yourself to have been -- to use the president's term -- others in my administration. you say now that you played a consulting role but were not part of the group that advised the president on the ultimate decision to expand offshore oil and gas exploration. >> that is correct. >> well, i think many of us
would like to pursue this. this is fascinating. i would only say, many commissioners are quite a bit -- interested in seeing an increase in the attention that is given to scientific and environmental expertise, with -- which both of your agencies represent. as an alumnus ofc ceq, the item disappointed that such a plan for oil and gas would not have involved direct consultation with the ceq chair and other agencies. it is increasingly clear to me, to the extend we do wish to recommend greater quantitative roles for your agencies, one had
best do that through statutes specifically, rather than leaving the language of nepa and some of the prefatory national ocean policy, which should affect a result, and we should also look closely at the resource implications of anything like that that we recommend. you have been very helpful in this. i look forward to your answers in some of the written responses. we all appreciate very much your efforts in the gulf and otherwise, with respect to important resources that you look after. thank you for your presentations. >> we are going to take a break for lunch. we will be reconvening at 1:15 with a panel that is meeting on regulatory challenges.
[captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2010] >> a break in the hearing on regulation and oversight of offshore drilling. panel members will return after lunch for a discussion on how to
meet regulatory challenges. that will be some time around 1:15 eastern. we will have live coverage. this is just one hearing that we are covering on the oil spill. we have had coverage of the hearing taking place on the incident aboard the deepwater horizon where 11 people died and the subsequent oil spill in the gulf. the hearing continues today. live right now on c-span2. a reminder, we have dozens and dozens of hours on the spill from congressional hearings to protests, town hall meetings, and other documents available to you at c-span.org/oilspill. four state took place in primary elections last night, and some states are not decided, including alaska. c-span.org/primarynight for the
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c-span video library. we also take c-span on the road with our digital bus. washington, your way. the c-span networks. >> an update on u.s. military efforts to provide flood relief in pakistan. this is about 45 minutes. >> good morning, everyone. good evening, in pakistan. i would like to welcome to the briefing room brigadier general michael nagata. the general assumed his duties
in pakistan in june 2009, approximately 15 months ago. this is his first time joining us in this format. he is here to provide an update on flawed effort to end u.s. helicopter operations in pakistan. he will make some opening comments and will take your questions. with that, i will turn it over to you. >> thank you for the introduction. i am the deputy commander of what we call the office of the defense representative of pakistan. for the last three weeks, i have been responsible for the u.s. military aviation efforts emanating from northern pakistan. before moving to questions, i thought i would provide an
overview of the operations we have been conducting here and the nature of our partnership with pakistani military units, particularly, army aviation elements. our focus is to save lives and provide humanitarian assistance at the request of the government of pakistan to the people affected by this terrible natural disaster, this historic flood. as i am sure you are aware, we have 15 u.s. navy and marine corps helicopters and air crews conducting relief operations from the air base. we have a number of other military efforts occurring in pakistan, including using c- 130's to deliver relief supplies in a variety of areas in pakistan. this task force's focus is on the rotary wing support we are providing from the air base. today, we have four marine super stallions, three navy sea dragon
helicopters, and eight ch14 helicopters. we are being supported by two kc-130 marine aircraft providing logistic support from the air base, in coordination with the pakistani military. all told, we have about 230 sailors, marines, airman, providing both the operational capability into the affected areas as well as necessary maintenance and support. as of this date, we have delivered over 1 million pounds of relief supply and recovered more than 6000 people from a flood affected area. our principal focus has been in an area known as the swat valley. most recently, we have also begun relief operations in an adjacent process -- province. everything that we do here is
done in partnership with pakistani military units, pakistani military aviation capabilities, and at the request of the government of pakistan. finally, i want to emphasize this is a terrible disaster. while all we have seen is what we are focused on in the north, the damage in the swan valley and adjacent areas is significant and will take a great deal of time and effort to recover from. i will stop there and begin taking questions. >> associated press. could you give us your view on, to what extent the pakistani military is being diverted from counterterrorism sites by its role of flood relief and what your concerns are, going forward, as to how many
resources might continue to be diverted over time? >> the question of what extent resources or efforts have been diverted from the counterinsurgency struggle here in pakistan is a question best asked to the pakistani leadership and military. when i am focused on is partnering with those portions of the pakistani army and military service is working on flood relief. they are showing great determination, skill, and resolve helping the affected people here. to the degree that it may have affected them from the counterinsurgency fight is something you'll have to ask them. >> if i could follow up briefly, that has been one of the primary areas of u.s. military cooperation and involvement before this happened. it must be something that you
are discussing at least among yourselves. could you provide, from your perspective, when you expect to happen over the next several months? are they going to be able to do what they told you that they would already be able to do? >> all i can tell you it is that, in terms of an historical perspective, the pakistani conducted a successful campaign. they have made it into progress in this province. sunday, they have now been affected by the flood. but the progress has been quite real here, in terms of the security situation. now they are dealing with a new problem. in terms of our engagement with
pakistani military leaders, our operations are meant to provide security and assistance to all the forces of pakistan for their own legitimate defense needs, including their counterinsurgency struggle, here in pakistan, and we continue to do that at their request. >> the united nations said there were around 800,000 people that were not accessible, only through helicopter and other air lift means. they are calling for another 40 helicopters. do you know where this might come from if we provided the helicopters? >> we have been steadily increasing the amount of united states military helicopters devoted to assisting the pakistanis with flood relief. as you know, we started with eight helicopters that were provided by the united states army from afghanistan. they operated here for the first
two weeks of activities with the pakistani aviation elements. they have now been replaced by 15 u.s. navy and marine corps helicopters. we have plans underway to bring in additional helicopters in the first week of september. there are ongoing discussions between our military leaders and military leaders, here in pakistan, about other means that they may wish us to fulfil. at this time, i am not aware of any new decisions that have been made. >> examples of the additional means [inaudible] >> i'm sorry, i did not understand the question. >> what are the other needs that you are assisting on with the pakistani authorities? >> i am afraid it is just too
garbled to hear. >> the question is what kind of assistance argue engaging in with pakistani authorities? >> thank you. the other types of assistance being discussed with pakistani authorities would be best asked to the embassy representatives. our focus is on the u.s. military assistance that are partnered with pakistani military element here. there are a broad range of conversations going on with many agencies of the united states government, through the u.s. embassy, for different forms of assistance, and they are best prepared to answer that question. >> reuters. there is clearly a greater need in the crisis then there is the ability to assist. to what extent is this playing into the hands of insurgents? are they using this for propaganda means at all?
to what extent our charity groups when to groups like let providing assistance? >> i could not hear. if you could please repeat the question. >> to what extent our charities linked to insurgents providing assistance? given the fact that the needs are greater than the ability of the united states or the pakistanis to aid those affected, to what extent is this crisis playing into the rhetoric of the insurgents? >> i think i caught the last question. i will try to answer that. that is not our focus, not something on a monitor from
here. frankly, that question is best asked to the pakistani government and military authority dealing with the insurgency here. i should stress the counterinsurgency fight in pakistan is the pakistanis to make. they have been waging in for several years now. they are completely committed and have taken significant casualties in fighting militants in these countries, but the degree to which this flood has impacted the uncertainty would best be answered by the pakistani government. >> the other question was some of the charities affiliated with these insurgent groups, are they providing aid, to your knowledge? >> my response again would be to ask the pakistani government. what non-governmental organizations, domestic or international, may or may not be doing is not something i am
focused on. it is not part of our military mission here. that is a question best asked to the question -- government of pakistan. >> when you said that you had almost 1 million [inaudible] what does this include? how much is food? you can see that people on the ground are in need of food, not money. >> i'm going to have to apologize again. i cannot understand the question unless it is provided by the alternative microphone. >> the question has to do with the more than 1 million pounds of supplies that u.s. forces had assisted with delivering. can you give us a breakdown of the types of things included? the point being, there are a lot
of need for food. indeed supplies, how does that bring down with food and other types of necessities. >> thank you. i can only give you a general breakdown. we have a hanger here, a large hangar that has been dedicated to store and relief supplies that we are flying into affected areas and there are other logistic hubs that the pakistani army has set up in the swat valley and other areas for us to pick up supplies from and delivered to the affected areas. the bulk of what we are carrying our food items of various kinds. most recently, they appear to be bulk food items, bags of flour, those kinds of things.
they come from a very diverse set of sources. i have seen everything from world food program bold items, food items, all the way to usaid, even to domestic producers providing bulk food items that we are flying into affected areas. that said, we are also delivering a substantial amount of non-food items, cooking utensils, portable water filtration systems, various kinds of things like that that fall into the category of equipment and supplies that are necessary to sustain a way of life until other assistance can get to them. the short answer is food and non-food item that come from a diverse set of domestic and international providers. >> after the food, there could be a health crisis. what does the u.s. army think
about this, are they concerned? at the same time, are the terrorists taking advantage in the name of the flood? >> going forward, in the interest of time, i will have the reporter is really their questions through me seems -- because it seems to be working most efficiently. that question was regarding health needs, growing needs, and whether the u.s. military is following those lines. >> thank you for the question. i have discussed this with some of the pakistani military leaders today, but we have not seen any substantial health problems, here in north pakistan. i am not saying that there are not any, but there has not been a significant surge in health-
related activities. that is at least partially explained by the fact that because this is a fairly mountainous terrain, the water course, as it moves south, does affectively drain these areas, despite the nature of the flood. there is not a great deal of standing water in the area we are flying. there is some, but significantly less than what we are seeing in southern pakistan where there probably is a greater potential for health-related problems. i should also say, the pakistanis have marshaled an impressive military capability, both here and in affected areas that is quite sizable. and they seem quite capable of handling whatever and medical problems that may have emerged. southern pakistan may be different, again.
>> has the weather pattern changed? is the rain, flooding beginning to subside, has it subsided completely? what kind of response, reaction, wellcome -- welcome, are you getting when you deliver aid? i know that part of this is to win over hearts and minds. are you doing that? >> thank you for the question. in terms of what we are seeing on the ground as we operate on the ground, we have seen a significant receding of the water course that has developed in the immediate aftermath of the flood, although it is still significant, significantly beyond -- i will use the example of swat valley.
significantly beyond what we remember the swan river valley looking like. that being said, the waters have reduced to a significant degree. what this has exposed as the damage done. when we first began operating here, we sought a broad ribbon of water through the valley, and the adjacent surviving infrastructure on its left and right. as the water has receded, it is clear how much of the crop- producing fields, the road infrastructure, bridge infrastructure, how many buildings have been damaged or destroyed by the flood. they are no longer masked by the spread of water. i want to be clear, there is still a significant watercourse that is significantly larger than what was previously in the swat river valley. on your second question of how
we are being received -- i have blown into swat and into other efforts to see how this is going the first thing i noticed is the pakistani civilians we are recovering from these areas who are receiving the relief supplies are impressed. they are impressed when they see pakistani service military members and u.s. military service members working side-by- side, often flying in the same helicopters, working together on these landing zones to land and sheppard those that need recovery onto the helicopters, securing them, safeguarding them, and returning them to their homes or to be reunited with other members of their family. i think they are impressed. secondly, they are grateful. i have seen many occasions where the civilians have approached
pakistani military service members as well as our own pilots, crew chiefs, cargo handlers, to express their gratitude, there thanks, that someone has come to their assistance. >> you are operating in parts of pakistan that are violent and security is an issue. have there been any attempted attacks on u.s. troops carrying out this relief mission? are you operating differently if you were operating in a place where security was not a concern? are you flying less, are you carrying more security personnel? >> on your first question, we have seen no attempt in the three weeks that we have been operating. i should also say, the pakistani military, specifically army aviation and ground forces, have
done a commendable and highly effective job in providing our force protection and security while we are here. there is a significant security presence here at the airbase. it does not interfere with our work, but it is clearly there. the pakistanis are clearly committed to our safety. similarly, we have some of the most experienced pilots flying with us when we do the relief missions, mostly because they understand these intricate valley is better than we do, but we have some of their own security guards providing us close and security. when we land at these various ld's where we deliver aid or recover people, there is a well- organized, very disciplined pakistani military presence there to do everything from crowd control to ensure that cargo and personnel are searched before they come aboard, either
pakistani were u.s. helicopters, so that nothing dangerous is brought on board, as well as securing the general area. the combination of the fact that this is a bad the flood-affected area, the people there simply want help, and this very effective pakistani military effort has resulted in me being able to say we have had no reason to fear for our safety or force protection since we arrived. on your second question on whether or not it has altered our flying patterns, it has not. we fly every day that we can, weather permitting, to get relief to people who are in need. >> i was in the small groups that sell you a couple of months ago traveling with admiral mullen. you seem quite confident that the time that the pakistanis would extend their military operations into new areas, in
the west. today, you seem to be deflecting questions about that. why the change? >> the change is i have a different focus, mission now. my focus is providing aid to the pakistani people. and i still confident that pakistanis will continue to wage a dedicated, committed struggle against a violent extremism in pakistan? yes, i am. do i believe they will continue to pursue by the extremists in the country? yes, i do. >> do you have any indication that the timing of that had been affected by the flood, the diverging of resources to flood relief? >> i do not know the answer to your question. that is something that you would have to ask government and military leaders, here in
pakistan. my focus is solely the flood relief effort. >> how many times have you and your officers in directed with local pakistani journalists? >> the answer is frequently. we have had significant numbers of pakistani prints and television visiting. they fly in our aircraft almost every day to go into these areas. they filled and interview people on the landing zones, and while we're in the midst of the operations, both american and pakistani military members. so the answer is frequently. >> three weeks into the disaster, is there any indication that there will be a more permanent u.s. military presence where you are?
is this an opportunity where the u.s. would want more military activity here? are there any plans to have something of a more permanent presence in the region, either with long-term development aid, or otherwise? >> as i assure you know, we had a longstanding security relationship with the government and military of pakistan. we have at u.s. military service members here in pakistan in relatively small numbers for a number of years. i expect that to continue. the security relationship as an important part of the u.s.- pakistani relationship. in terms of what we're doing here will extend or become something permanent, as you queried, this flood effort and
military capabilities will remain in pakistan so long as the government and military leadership in pakistan ask us to be here. we are only here for one purpose, to help people in need. once the government no longer need our assistance with that, these assets will lead. -- leave. >> you are operating in the north. is there any discussion about extending your operations beyond that when additional assets come? where will the additional helicopters go when they arrive in september? >> i think i only heard the first part of your question. about where else we might operate? we will operate where ever the pakistani government and military authorities have asked us to, designated for us. right now, they have designated
valley.pt river if there are other areas that they determined they need our assistance, of course, we will provide that. >> do you know when the additional aid will go when they arrived and september? -- a arrive -- arrive in september? >> those will actually come here to gazi. a couple of them are being built in afghanistan right now. around the first week, they will fly here to begin operations here. regarding other aviation assets that may be coming, those discussions are still under way between u.s. and pakistani
military leaders. i am not aware of any decision being made yet. >> as you know, japan is also beginning their flood relief efforts. i wanted to know whether or not the japanese are working with the u.s. joint way, or independently with the pakistanis -- jointly or independently with the pakistanis? >> the japanese have announced that they will provide assistance to the flood relief effort. are they working with you and u.s. forces, are they operating independently with the pakistani military? >> the basic answer is they are working directly with the pakistani military. that said, some of the representatives here in the capital did ask us for some