By Andrew Restuccia -The Hill
President Obama has asked his staff to look into executive actions that could help make offshore oil drilling safer.
In an exclusive interview with The Hill, the co-chairman of the national commission investigating the BP oil spill said Obama told staff to look into possible executive actions during a Tuesday meeting with commission members and key administration officials at the White House.
The commission’s final report, issued Tuesday, lays out specific steps the administration and Congress should take to prevent future spills. The report hasÂ revived talk of passing oil-spill response legislation, but two senior House Republicans have given a coolÂ response to the recommendations.
Former Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), the commission co-chairman, told The Hill that commission members made the case to Obama that the administration has the authority to begin instituting a number of important safety measures.
Graham, who outlined items in the report that could be addressed through executive action, said Obama instructed his staff to â€œanalyzeâ€ the areas in which the administration can move forward without action from Congress.
â€œHe asked his staff to analyze what those areas of executive action were and said that he would take those under his advisement as to which ones to move forward on,â€ Graham said, though he was hesitant to characterize the president’s response to the commission’s recommendations.
A numberÂ of the report’s recommendations require congressional action, which could be an uphill battle with Republicans controlling the House.
â€œWe asked him to recognize that there are a number of our recommendations that do not require congressional action that could be implemented by executive order or by action of a specific department of the government such as the Department of Interior,â€ said Graham, who nonetheless expressed optimism that Congress could move forward with legislation.
Graham called on Obama and key Cabinet officials, including Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, to increase the â€œtraining, competency and compensationâ€ of inspectors and other officials that oversee offshore drilling.
He also recommended that Obama push to require that a fee be imposed on drillers for receiving lease agreements. That fee would be a â€œreliable source of revenueâ€ that could pay for the soaring cost of regulating the industry, Graham said, though he said the fee should only apply to new offshore leases.
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