New reports from the BP Deepwater Commission – a salient reminder for senior managers

The President’s National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling has generated four new draft reports 

  • Working Paper #2 “Decision-Making within the Unified Command”;
  • Working Paper #3 “The Amount and Fate of the Oil”;
  • Working Paper #4 “The Use of Surface and Subsea Spill Response in the Arctic”; and
  • Working Paper #5 “The Challenges of Oil Drilling.”

Working Paper # 1, “A Brief History of Offshore Drilling” was release on August 23, 2010.

Working Paper # 3 says in part, “The federal government’s estimates of the amount of oil flowing into and later remaining in the Gulf of Mexico in the aftermath of the Macondo well explosion were the source of significant controversy, which undermined public confidence in the federal government’s response to the spill. By initially underestimating the amount of oil flow and then, at the end of the summer, appearing to underestimate the amount of oil remaining in the Gulf, the federal government created the impression that it was either not fully competent to handle the spill or not fully candid with the American people about the scope of the problem” (Emphasis added).

The “take away” from this for anyone in charge of environmental management is to perhaps take another look not only at your environmental permits and plans, but your communication program as well.  Shareholder confidence (public, local community, investors, employees, etc) is a very fragile thing, especially when dealing with environmental issues. It is never a pleasant task to communicate an environmental incident, large or small.  But if your first environmental communication with your stakeholders is an “incident” this might be an indication that you need to work on developing a better environmental communication program.

Here is a link to the National Commission’s report http://www.oilspillcommission.gov/library#supporting-documents

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