In The News
Kimberly Willingham (202) 225-3035
May 9, 2012 By Jennifer A. Dlouhy, Fuel Fix
U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert suggested Wednesday that the Obama administration overlooked BP’s safety problems before the Gulf oil spill because the company promised to support White-House backed climate change legislation and the 2010 health care law.
The Tyler Republican’s allegation came during a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on the Interior Department’s five-year plan for selling offshore drilling leases on the outer continental shelf from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2017.
Gohmert pressed the head of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to explain why BP was still operating in the Gulf of Mexico despite a history of safety problems when its Macondo well blew out in April 2010, triggering a lethal explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig and the nation’s worst oil spill.
“As far as I know, British Petroleum was the only operator in the Gulf Coast that was about to endorse the administration’s cap and trade bill and was negotiating for the big rollout of that endorsement at the time the Deepwater Horizon blew,” Gohmert said. “So you’re saying that under the new policies now, even if companies are willing to endorse cap and trade or Obamacare, you’re still going to scrutinize them closely?”
Bureau director Tommy Beaudreau rejected any possibility of a quid pro quo.
“Politics has nothing to do with our safety regime,” he told Gohmert.
“I don’t think you can honesty say that when the Deepwater Horizon blew,” Gohmert shot back.
Back in 2009 and 2010, when lawmakers saw a chance for passing broad legislation to impose limits on greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change, both BP and ConocoPhillips were part of a coalition of businesses that supported the endeavor. But in February 2010, both energy companies announced they were pulling out of the group, known as the U.S. Climate Action Partnership.
At the time, oil industry leaders were upset with a House bill that would have given refiners a small share of free allowances to emit carbon dioxide emissions compared with other sectors.