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Governor Barbour Testifies in Washington

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 03 Jun 2011 08:20am | comments
Governor Barbour testifies in Washington.

The political wrangling over how the federal government responded to the BP gulf oil spill is revived again more than year after the rigged exploded. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that Governor Haley Barbour spent nearly two hours testifying in the nations Capitol about the response to the spill.

The House Oversight and Government Accountability committee held several hours of hearings Thursday to examine how the government responded to the rig explosion that killed 11 people and spilled millions of barrels of oil. 

Governor Haley Barbour told the committee the impact to Mississippi has been mostly economic and that new regulations are unnecessary because the rig exploded due to human error.

"Corners were cut. I don't know whose fault it was. I don't know who the specific responsible party is. But I don't think there is any question that that is what the cause of all this is. And that is why I say that the risk of 1 out of 31,000 is worth taking when you are talking about something that is so important to the economy to the United States of America," Barbour said.

A report by Republicans on the committee blames the Obama administration for handing over too much control to B-P, adding too many  new drilling regulations, and being slow to approve new permits. 

Ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings of Maryland argues that making companies prove they can control spills from their wells is a reasonable reaction.

"These were responsible steps taken after it became clear to the nation after 87 days that BP simply did not have the techonology available. In other words, the technology was far out distancing our ability to control it," Cummings said.

Deep water drilling in the Gulf is underway again. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has approved 15 permits since February for companies that can meet the new standards.

Bureau director Michael Bromwich says the permit process is moving more deliberately than before the spill.

"There are good reasons why the pace is somewhat slower than in the past. Our new regulations have required operators to make sure their applications fully comply with the new requirements. In addition,our drilling engineers have had to work to ensure compliance with the expanded set of requirements. This process may have proved frustrating to some of those in the industry, but the additional rules are completely appropriate and in the best interest of this nation," Bromwhich said.

But some argue that is still too slow....Cory Kief runs a Louisiana company that tows rigs around the Gulf.

"This company used to move 25 to 30 rigs a month and now we move 10 or less due to the lack of permits being issued. One top of that  other rigs are leaving the Gulf as well due to the challenges of issuance of drilling permits," Kief said. 

The House of Representatives has passed a bill intended to speed up permits and force previously scheduled lease sales.

That legislation died in the Senate but the Obama administration has since ordered an extension of existing drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico, in order to give companies time to recover from the moratorium.

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Governor Barbour testifies in Washington.


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