When you're sitting in stuffy a Congressional hearing for up to eight hours, it can be hard to pinpoint the most critical moments. (OK, it can be hard to stay awake.) But the hard questioning of BP America's president by Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA) stood out at yesterday's House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee hearing.
Rep. Richardson pressed BP America President Lamar McKay about the company line that the leak is spilling 5,000 barrels a day, even though independent scientific estimates put the figure as high as 80,000 barrels a day. McKay insisted 5,000 barrels is the company's "best estimate."
Can BP say the 80,000 barrel per day figure is definitely incorrect? "I don't think people that are working with it believe that it's a possibility," McKay replied.
But, pressed Rep. Richardson, if BP can't say 80,000 barrels a day is wrong, how can we have any confidence 5,000 barrels a day is right? "There are a range of estimates & it's impossible to measure," admitted McKay.
Unfortunately, that was far from the only information gap or outright misinformation presented at yesterday's hearing. The National Wildlife Federation believes it's time for President Obama to step in & deliver the answers the American public needs. NWF joined with 10 conservation organizations today, asking the federal government to immediately take over all environmental monitoring, testing, and public safety protection from BP.
So what other head-scratchers were heard at the hearing? China doesn't drill off Cuba, but both Rep. John Mica (R-FL) & Rep. Don Young (R-AK) cited that long-since-debunked fable as fact.
Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN) couldn't spare any time to express concern for the victims of the Deepwater Horizon rig disaster or for the Gulf Coast residents who've had their lives turned upside down. Who did he take time to say he was worried about? Rep. Duncan separately singled out both BP and BP stock owners for sympathy.
As if he knew people might wonder why a Representative from a land-locked state would so desperately defend offshore drilling, Rep. Duncan claimed, "I have no connection to BP or any other oil company at all." But according to OpenSecrets.org, Rep. Duncan has received $85,111 from the oil & gas industry since 1998.
Not present at the hearing was BP CEO Tony Hayward, whose laughable statements have earned him his own parody Twitter account. On Tuesday, Hayward claimed of the spill that "everything we can see at the moment suggests that the overall environmental impact will be very, very modest." National Wildlife Federation President & CEO Larry Schweiger blasted Hayward's statement, saying it "lacks common sense and common decency."
For all the latest news on how the oil spill is impacting the Gulf Coast's wildlife & to learn how you can help, visit NWF.org/OilSpill.