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Spill report rekindles Democratic push for reform

By Matthew Daly

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 11 2011 1:46 p.m. MST

U.S. regulations for offshore drilling should be at least as stringent as those in other oil-producing nations and require oil companies to adopt safety procedures common elsewhere but lacking in the Gulf, the panel added.

In a statement, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar suggested he was receptive to some of the commission's suggestions. He said his department already has adopted several "key reforms" proposed by the report, and that officials would consult its findings to improve oversight further.

The panel also called for an industry-led safety institute, similar to the one created by nuclear power producers after the 1979 Three Mile Island accident.

The American Petroleum Institute, which lobbies on behalf of 400 oil and gas companies, said it is working on an industry safety program. It also praised the panel for recommending more funding for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

But Erik Milito, an institute director, said the report went too far in casting doubt on the safety culture of the entire industry. It also failed to recognize steps already taken to make drilling safer, he said.

Calls to BP, Halliburton and Transocean for comment were not immediately returned. Last week, the commission said management failures at the three companies led to the blowout and explosion that killed 11 workers and released more than 200 million gallons of oil from the damaged well.

Since then, the oil industry and government have taken numerous steps in an effort to improve safety.

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Associated Press Writer Harry R. Weber contributed reporting from New Orleans.

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