Oil Spill Commission co-chair tours Gulfport - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Oil Spill Commission co-chair tours Gulfport


By Elizabeth Vowell – email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Walking along Ken Combs Pier in Gulfport was the first time Oil Spill Commission Co-Chair William Reilly has been in the thick of the coastal crisis, even though he's part of a team appointed by President Barack Obama to answer questions about how the oil spill began.

Reilly, along with six other commissioners were appointed to oversee the oil spill investigation on June 14. All seven commission members are visiting affected states before their first official meeting next week.

The co-chair had a busy Saturday meeting with South Mississippi fishermen and seafood industry workers. He also traveled out to the Deepwater Horizon site.

"The president appointed a seven member commission on the oil spill with three essential purposes. One, to figure out what happened; secondly, figure out what to do so that it doesn't happen again; and three, what should be the future of off shore oil and gas," Reilly said. 

Reilly said the commission will draw on their first hand experiences from touring affected areas, to plan for the future.

Reilly hopes the commission will be able to bring disaster response up to speed, along with changing regulations for oil and gas drilling off shore. 

"I see a breathtakingly sophisticated oil and gas exploration drilling technology and a response capability that apparently hasn't evolved in 20 years," explained Reilly. "We saw the response plans of the industry, and they weren't very serious."

Reilly said he was surprised by some of the things he saw and heard on the Mississippi coast, including that the fishermen he spoke with, wanted the moratorium lifted. He also couldn't understand why no one was out on the Gulfport beaches, despite the oil advisory posted at the end of the pier. 

"We all operate to the evidence of our eyes.aAd I've only been to this one place, and I only got here this morning. So I don't report to be thoroughly informed about it," said Reilly. 

The commission will have it's first official meeting Monday and expects to release their findings in six months. 

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