Drilling legislation worthy of passage

Published 9:05 pm Thursday, October 7, 2010

When it comes to the BP oil spill, credit Gov. Bob Riley with being both proactive and reactive.

By executive order, Riley set up the Alabama Coastal Recovery Commission to, according to the governor, “strengthen the resilience of our state and coastal communities.” Chaired by Ricky Mathews, publisher of the Mobile Press-Register, the commission is composed of politicians and leaders mainly from Baldwin and Mobile counties. It will study the situation and “recommend ways that improve our ability to respond to future challenges and examine strategies that will mean far less suffering the next time a catastrophe threatens us.”

Sounds good.

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Mathews served on a similar commission set up by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour after Hurricane Katrina, so he is not without experience.

This new commission, which met for the first time Sept. 28, is focusing on long-range planning and won’t overlap with work done by Ken Feinberg’s federal claims commission. This session, attended by more than 80 panel members that included U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin of Bayou La Batre, discussed a wide array of issues. Atop that list was a solution to the state’s coastal insurance dilemma.

As for the commission’s cost, that will come from money paid by BP in partial compensation for the oil spill. Nevertheless, will this reduce the amount of money that should go to those actually damaged by the disaster? That’s a vital question.

In light of what has taken place, it is reasonable for Riley to set up such a commission. In fact, it’s good planning. However, what Alabama does should not remove attention from what needs to be done on the national level. …

In recent years, the Senate has been where environmental bills have gone to die. And Alabama’s senators have been among those who assisted in the killing.

Here is legislation that needs to be passed. Without strong offshore-drilling regulations and restrictions on the books, a commission like the one Riley is setting up will have little solid on which to base its plans for the future.

With these regulations and restrictions in place, there is a better chance the disaster the Riley commission plans for will never occur.

The Anniston Star.