News / USA

    US Lawmakers Blast Oil Executives for Being Unprepared for Major Spills

    Cindy Saine

    Executives from five of the world's largest oil companies came under fire on Capitol Hill for having inadequate and almost identical contingency plans for dealing with potential disasters like the current BP's massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Leaders of the four other oil companies present at the hearing sought to distance themselves from the way BP drilled the Deepwater Horizon well, and all five executives defended offshore drilling as critical to the U.S. economy.

    U.S. lawmakers grilled top oil executives for almost five hours Tuesday on the safety of industry practices during a dramatic and intense House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Capitol Hill.

    Democratic Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts chaired the hearing, which he called historic.

    "This has been an historic hearing, but we are in an historic time.  This is the single worst environmental disaster in our country's history.  And the American people want to know how it happened, why the response is so inadequate and what we are going to have to do in order to ensure that it never happens again," he said.

    Congressman Markey, Democratic Representative Henry Waxman of California and other senior Democrats on the panel focused on all five oil companies' disaster response plans, saying documents they have studied reveal that none of them is better equipped than BP to deal with a major oil spill.

    Markey said that three of the contingency plans list the phone number for a wildlife expert who has been dead since 2005, and several of the regional plans listed walruses and sea lions as animals that could be affected, though none of them live in the Gulf of Mexico.

    Under questioning about the lack of substance of the disaster response plans, ExxonMobil Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson admitted that preventing major explosions is key, because once they happen, there is not a lot that can be done.

    "The answer to that is that when these things happen, we are not well-equipped to deal with them," he said.

    Tillerson did say that he believed the Deepwater Horizon Oil rig tragedy, which killed 11 people could have been prevented, indicating there were likely faults in BP's well design.

    "We would not have drilled the well the way they did," he said.

    The other oil executives from ConocoPhillips, Chevron and Shell also agreed that they would have had a different well design.  Tillerson said the Deepwater Horizon incident represents a dramatic departure from the industry norm, and that investigators need to find out what happened there that did not happen at the other 14,000 offshore oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico.

    Committee Chairman Markey slammed BP America Chairman and President Lamar McKay for what he called "lowballing" estimates of how much oil is spilling into the Gulf and demanded an apology from him in this tense exchange between the two men.

    Markey: "On the day Mr. McKay that you are ready to apologize…"

    McKay: "What's that?"

    Markey: "On the day that you are ready to apologize, that is the day that we can begin to move forward and put together the kinds of plans that make sure this never happens again. It was BP's spill, but it was America's ocean.  And we need you to admit that you knew or should have known very early on that this was not a spill of 1,000 or 5,000 barrels a day."

    BP America Chairman McKay said he was sorry for the loss of life and damage associated with the rig explosion.  When he was asked if BP would be willing to put funds into a separate escrow account to compensate those affected by the oil spill, this was his response.

    "I cannot comment on whether there will be a fund set aside or not.  We have made it clear that the company stands behind these commitments, we have got a strong balance sheet, we have got a strong company, we intend to stand behind those," he said.

    Some Republicans on the panel also took a tough stand on BP and the other oil executives.  Republican Congressman Cliff Stearns of Florida called on BP America Chairman McKay to resign immediately.  But several Republican lawmakers joined the oil executives in calling for an end to the six-month moratorium on deepwater oil drilling declared by President Obama after the spill.

    Some Republican lawmakers accused Democrats of using the oil spill crisis to try to push their energy and climate legislation through Congress.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.