U.S. Chamber head warns of excessive regulation in wake of oil spill

A powerful business association leader said Friday that lawmakers need to avoid excessive regulation in the aftermath of a catastrophic Gulf of Mexico oil spill, or risk hurting the U.S. economy. 

“I am not too much of an advocate of doing the surgery before the diagnosis,” Tom Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told reporters at a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor.

Donohue said the federal government already is stepping up its regulation of the oil industry. He noted the Obama administration’s proposal to split the Minerals Management Service into three agencies as well as the exit this week of its director, Elizabeth Birnbaum.


“This is the idea that we have to cover our political a-- in a very, very difficult time. By the way, both parties do this kind of thing,” Donohue said of policymakers. “But I think right now what we need is a calm resolve to do three things. A: Stop the oil. B: Clean it up. And C: Figure out what happened and how [we are] going to deal with it.”

Donohue warned that overregulation could hurt U.S. business.

“There is a mentality in this Congress and this administration that the more regulation, the better,” Donohue said. “When you over-regulate, you under-job. When you over-regulate, you under-economy. We need to be very, very careful that we don’t have the tail wagging the dog around here.”