Senate approves bipartisan panel to study offshore drilling

The Hill:

A key Senate panel delivered a rebuke to President Barack Obama Wednesday in approving the creation of a bipartisan oil spill commission that would effectively compete with his own.

Five Democrats joined all 10 Republicans on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in agreeing to create a new bipartisan panel whose members would mostly be appointed by Congress.

The proposal — offered by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) — would establish a commission of 10 whose members would be appointed equally by the two parties, with Obama naming the chair and congressional leaders selecting the vice chair and the remaining eight members. The commission would have subpoena power, which the Obama-appointed panel does not.

Barrasso said the newly proposed commission — which he said is modeled after the 9/11 Commission — is needed to provide a “truly unbiased bipartisan review” of offshore drilling in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico spill. Obama’s commission “appears to me to be stacked with people philosophically opposed to offshore drilling,” Barrasso said.

In particular, Republicans have criticized the selection of Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke, a leading critic of offshore drilling.

But some Democrats raised concerns as well.

...
It does look like the President tried to stack the deck with anti energy types who oppose the oil and gas business in general and offshore drilling in particular. Hopefully this group will have a more balanced view. Props to the five Democrats who joined with the Republicans to push this group.

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