News / USA

Congress Investigates Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Multimedia

The United States Congress has launched its probe into the ongoing massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that resulted from an oil rig explosion three weeks ago.  The investigation began with the Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where the executives of the three companies involved in the disaster came under fire from lawmakers.

They testified under oath in a room steeped in history.

It was the same room where Congress investigated the sinking of the Titanic nearly a century ago.

Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey:

"At that time, we had a ship so technologically advanced it could not sink," said Senator Menendez. "And here we have a rig that industry told us so many times was so technologically advanced it supposedly could not spill."

But on April 20th, the Deepwater Horizon exploded, killing 11 workers.  The rig collapsed and oil started gushing out into the Gulf of Mexico at a rate of nearly 800,000 liters per day.

The Deepwater Horizon was leased for drilling by the BP oil company.

Lamar McKay is chairman and president of BP America:

"BP and the entire energy industry are under no illusions about the challenges we face," said Lamar McKay. "We know that we will be judged by our response to this crisis."

McKay told senators that the cause of the rig explosion and spill has not been determined.  But he suggested that it might lie with Transocean, Ltd. - the company that owned and operated the Deepwater Horizon.

Transocean Chief Executive Officer Steven Newman pointed to possible shoddy workmanship by a subcontractor - Halliburton - which cemented the oil well to stabilize its walls.

"The one thing we do know is on the evening of April 20th, there was a sudden, catastrophic failure of the cement, the casing or both," said Steven Newman. "Without the failure of one of those elements, the explosion could not have occurred."

But Halliburton President Tim Probert said his company performed its duties in compliance with BP's orders.

"Halliburton is a service provider to the well owner, contractually bound to comply with the well owner's instructions," said Tim Probert.

The exchange seemed to irritate the top Republican Senator on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

"I would suggest to all three of you that we are all in this together because this incident is affecting [and] will have an impact on the development of our energy policy for this country," said Senator Murkowski.

It has already added new fervor to the debate over whether the United States should proceed with more off-shore oil exploration.

As the Senate hearing was winding down, demonstrators were setting off on a march through the streets of Washington to protest plans for more undersea drilling.

There are no indications that Congress will ban the practice.  But lawmakers have vowed to strengthen drilling regulations.   

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More