UH Bauer Prof Appointed to National Oil Spill Commission

Published on September 22, 2010

Director of Global Studies Tyler Priest Will Provide Oil Historian’s Perspective

Director of Global Studies Tyler Priest, right, brought Jay Hakes, now research director of the National Oil Spill Commission, to campus in 2008 to speak to UH Bauer students.

The National Oil Spill Commission has appointed Tyler Priest, a University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business professor who is an expert on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, to contribute a history of offshore oil regulation to its report on the BP oil spill.

Priest, director of Global Studies at UH Bauer, testified in August before The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, a response to the April 20, 2010, blowout in the Gulf.

The body, co-chaired by Sen. Bob Graham and former EPA Administrator William K. Reilly, has been asked to look into the causes of the disaster and its implications on offshore regulation as well as the energy and environmental policy issues raised by the spill.

Priest’s assignment as a senior policy analyst is to work with the panel as it considers how the federal government can better manage the often conflicting responsibilities of promoting offshore production, protecting the environment and collecting revenues from oil and gas output.

“It’s a rare chance for a historian to be involved in this sort of process,” said Priest, who teaches global studies courses at UH Bauer. There were no historians consulted by the President’s Panel on Oil Spills following the Santa Barbara blowout, a leak in 1969 that had a profound impact on the offshore oil and environmental regulation.

Back then, offshore drilling was about 22 years old — now it’s an industry more than 60 years old. Priest covered the history of exploration in the Gulf of Mexico as it moved into ever-deeper waters in his book: The Offshore Imperative: Shell Oil’s Search for Petroleum in Postwar America.

By Stephen Rassenfoss