Thursday, May 13, 2010

Oil Spill Hearings Just A Tad Premature

Sometimes it goes lonely in my isolated world but I can't help but wonder what good it does for a gusher of congressional investigations holding hearings with oil executives before the damned leak in the Gulf of Mexico is even capped.

Other than putting the execs under oath and casting blame on each other while still guessing what caused the eruption, the only other value I see in these hearings is grandstanding by Congress that they are on top of their game.

Where were these congressmen when the Minerals Management Service was shirking its duties by failing to independently do their own checking and instead taking the word of oil companies for tests on blowout preventers every seven days and pressure tests every 14 days.

It wasn't that they were unaware of the ineptness of the Minerals agency based on the Interior Department's Inspector General report two years ago that the office in Colorado was trading sex and drug favors with oil and mining drilling company representatives.

It is true that Congressional staffs are searching through 100,000 pages of oil company documents related to the Deepwater Horizons platform exploding and sinking April 20 about 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana.

And, it is true that the Congressmen are casting light on the disaster with juicy tidbits that are unavailable to the media. But, it is still grandstanding.

For example, BP said one effort to plug the gusher is blasting remnants of used tires and golf balls into the ruptured pipe.

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass) ridiculed the company's efforts, saying that BP is "largely making it up as they go.…When we heard the best minds were on the case, we expected MIT and not the PGA," he added.

The four congressional hearings held this week are designed to give Congress factual data to apply to proposed legislation for its climate change and energy bill. Well, forgive me, but I would hazard to guess that the minds of 99% of Congress are made up as it applies to off-shore oil platform drilling.

May I humbly suggest they review the transcripts of a Coast Guard hearing receiving scant media coverage from Kenner, Louisiana, in particular testimony from Michael Saucier, the witness for the Minerals Management service.

He said that the agency believes the well's shutdown systems are so critical that it drafted regulations to require secondary control systems for the blowout preventers, but said the rules languished "at the head office." That would be Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Since the April 20 blowout, an estimated 210,000 gallons daily of natural gas and crude oil has been gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.

The spill is just now starting to penetrate the Gulf Coast marshes and estuaries. Coast Guard spokesmen said 18 birds, 87 turtles and six dolphins have died from oil or natural causes so far.

No comments: