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Dan Farber Serves as Consultant to National Commission on BP Spill

By Andrew Cohen

Berkeley Law Professor Dan Farber has been asked to serve as a special consultant to a bipartisan commission that will recommend ways to prevent and mitigate the impact of offshore drilling oil spills.

The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling was created by President Barack Obama on May 22. It will examine the facts and circumstances concerning the disaster’s root causes, develop options for guarding against future spills, and submit a public report to Obama by the end of the year.

“There’s an awful lot of ground to cover when you consider the number of issues involved in the spill itself, efforts to contain the spill, and figuring out what to do with the oil afterward,” says Farber. “It’s a daunting task, but producing this report in a timely manner should allow it to have more impact.”

Farber—the director of Berkeley Law’s environmental law program, faculty director of its Center for Law, Energy & the Environment, and chair of UC Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group—will focus on the post-spill cleanup and recovery. He’ll provide legal analysis in those areas, calling on his vast experience in environmental and disaster law.

The commission will take into account other investigations concerning causes of the spill, and focus on safeguards that should be built into the nation’s regulatory framework to prevent similar disasters. The final report is expected to include recommended improvements to federal laws, regulations, and industry practices.

“The issues are really important, and there’s a lot of controversy surrounding many of them,” Farber says. “Any one of the issues is enough by itself to be a major research effort, so trying to get this done in a tight timeframe will be challenging.”

The commission is chaired by former Florida Governor and Senator Bob Graham and former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator William Reilly. Its work will be transparent and subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which governs the behavior of such committees.

More information on the commission is available here.