Browner: BP Will Be Held Accountable; Energy Bill On Ice

Posted August 8, 2010 at 11:04am

White House energy adviser Carol Browner expressed frustration Sunday that the Senate failed to pass energy legislation before adjourning for the August break and suggested action could take place over the lame-duck session.

“We’re deeply disappointed we have not been able to get clean energy legislation,” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We’ll continue to work in the Senate.”

Browner went on to say an energy proposal could “potentially” come up in the lame-duck session. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hoped to push a scaled-back energy proposal focused on the oil spill last week, but scrapped those plans citing a lack of floor time.

Browner also defended President Barack Obama’s moratorium on deep-water drilling in the Gulf Coast region. Obama imposed that shortly after the April 20 explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig.

“It’s a very rigorous review that’s under way. We understand the importance of these jobs, but we understand the importance of these communities and their safety,” Browner said, shunning GOP claims that the moratorium has imposed adverse effects on the region’s economy.

But Browner added, “I think the first phase is over, because the well is not leaking.

“The good news is we’re not seeing huge amounts of oil on our beaches and in our marshes,” she said.

She also reiterated that “BP will be held absolutely accountable” for cleanup costs associated with the spill. Browner said those costs include the environmental precautions taken to protect coast lines and make up for the economic damage associated with the spill.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), appearing on the same program, called for Obama to lift the moratorium, which he said is stifling economic growth in the region.

“I think we’re risking 100,000 jobs in the Gulf Coast with the continuation of this moratorium,” he said.

On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Thad Allen, who oversees the BP spill cleanup, would not say whether he trusts the oil company’s new CEO, Bob Dudley.

He said that when it comes to controlling the source of the well, “I think they’ve done a pretty good job with that.” But in dealing with individual citizens “transaction 101,” Allen, a retired Coast Guard admiral, said BP has a ways to go. That’s where “the most improvement needs to take place,” he said.