June 15th, 2010
10:36 AM ET

GOP lawmaker: Let's just discuss how to 'plug the well'

[Updated at 10:16 a.m.] Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, slammed Democrats at the start of a key House subcommittee hearing with oil executives Tuesday, arguing that the hearing was merely an "excuse for passing even more regulations" and increasing energy taxes "under the guise of clean energy."

We should just discuss how to "plug the well, stop the spill (and) clean the Gulf," he said. The Democrats are pushing an agenda that will further "cripple the economy," he said.

[Updated at 9:58 a.m.] Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California, said during a key House subcommittee hearing Tuesday that four of the five largest oil companies have produced oil disaster response plans for the Gulf of Mexico that discuss how to protect walruses, even though there are no walruses in the Gulf.

These are "cookie-cutter plans" that, in reality, are little more than "just paper exercises," he said.

The hearing was attended by the heads of ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP and Shell Oil.

[Posted at 9:49 a.m.] Rep. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, ripped the heads of ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP, and Shell Oil at the start of a key subcommittee hearing on Tuesday for producing oil disaster response plans that are "virtually identical." They all tout "ineffective identical equipment" and often use "the exact same words" in their plans, he said.

They have spent "zero time and money" in developing adequate response blueprints, he asserted.

Read Markey's full opening statement to oil execs where he says "blind faith" made the disaster worse.

soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. James

    Why is the right wing afraid of discussion? If they claim that deep water drilling can be done safely – and the evidence says otherwise – don't we need to find out if the risk is fundamental or if this is just because BP is a bunch of buffoons? How can we sanely decide whether we want to try this again or not? Seems like information and reasoned discussion remain the province of the Democratic party. By the party's own admission, their base is – well – easily impressed (i.e., STUPID).

    June 15, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. CJP

    Where have I heard all the congressional and company execs rhetorical crap before, almost verbatim.
    Let’s see:
    Oil goes to $150 per bbl.
    Wall Street shuts down the world economy.
    Car makers need huge bail outs.
    Go back and look again at all the congressional hearings am I hearing stereo or what?
    For the same result, a nothing gets done policy out of Washington. I'm sick of the CYA and your check book on all sides of politics and the big company execs.
    Do we really have as many around the world say of us" Americans have memories 90 days long"

    June 15, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Abdal-Latif

    So the Republicans just want to "plug the hole" and that's it. There are no lessons to be learned from this. Just plug the hole, then continue with business as usual. Does that strike anyone else as wholly irrational?? The Republicans have adopted Reaganomics and trickle-down capitalism as their religion. They are immune to reason. For them, only the MARKET is God, and Reagan is its prophet. Their minds are utterly closed.

    June 15, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Abdal-Latif

    From the point of view of the interests of the PEOPLE of America–including the economy–there is no rational reason to just "plug the hole, then get on with the drilling" as the Republicans are advocating. That policy obviously serves the interest of one group only: Big Oil. The Republican politicians have been bought out by the oil industry, and the rank-and-file Republican party members have been brainwashed to believe that their own interests and big corporations' interests are one and the same.

    June 15, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jersey Dude

    It's insane that even after all of the oil that has so far spilled into the GOM, and much more to come, that there are STILL people that want more drilling off-shore! Their excuse, "This was only 1 failure from a rig compared to the 1000's of other rigs that haven't had a problem."

    Well there may be some truth to that, but the problem is that when you're dealing with the environment where people live, eat, and sleep, you can't afford to have 1 incident. 1 is too many. Ask the russians still alive near Cherynoble. Yes blow ups have been capped. But those have all been on land, not 1 mile below the ocean! HUGE difference in atmospheric pressures and physics involved than on land. Excuse the pun, but as opposite as oil and water.

    AS far as over sight, ok call Obama too naive to trust some people with the oil industry. But you can't dispute facts. And the facts are that under GWB admin. oversight and regulations WERE lifted from the oil industry. That's not a dig or bash, that's just the truth. You know, accountability is a 2 way streak. Accountability means that EVRYONE that was involved with a CRIME or INCIDENT has blame. EVERYONE. How stupid can you be to put all of this on Obama when he didn't lift the regulations that lead to safety violations unchecked at BP. Which has lead to this oil disaster.

    I guess by some of your analogies then the Iraq war and Afghanistan and 9/11 are Obama's fault too, since he's having to deal with all of those issues during his tenure as well, right? Complete stupidity.

    June 15, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. NotSoSimple

    Many people have asked why we can't just cap off the well with a valve, or some other means. The reason is that the integrity of the seal of the well casing could fail under the pressure that currently exists at the top of the wellhead. If the well casing seal fails, oil would then be able to seep up around the well casing until the oil deposit is depleted. So, just capping the well is a very risky operation. The relief wells that are being drilled intend to connect to the existing well at a depth that is close to the bottom of the existing well. Once that is done, drilling mud can be pumped into the existing well that will replace the column of oil/gas that is in the well now. Since the drilling mud is much heavier than gas and oil, the pressure at the wellhead will drop significantly so that the well can then be safely capped. Drilling the relief wells is not a simple operation and will take some time to do safely.

    June 15, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Public Citizen

    Okay Jersey Dude, I've heard this stuff about relaxed regulations enough. Try to name one regulation on the offshore oil industry that has been rescinded or relaxed that wasn't replaced by something more stringent.
    You've heard it from the politicians, sure.
    But try to find even one.
    I looked at the BP Spill Response plan available online and I only find Walruses and Seals listed in the Environmental Sensitivities Index to the environmental sensitive area maps. I don't see that BP identified any walrus or seal populations. But they are GUILTY of using the standard Environmental Sensitivities Index provided by NOAA, who encourages planners to use the standard index to promote uniformity for the better understanding of the many responding govt agencies, trustees and impacted parties. So, J.Q. Public, was this a bad thing?

    June 15, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. cLOWNgOD

    "An EXCUSE for deregulation" ?? CONGRESS should be discussing how to plug the leak?? Unless Congress is made up of a bunch of out of work plumbers, it's not likely they'll succeeed where top petrochemical engineers have failed! As far as an "EXCUSE" for stronger regulation, ..I'd call it a DAMN GOOD REASON!

    June 15, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. cLOWNgOD

    Obamma should have four things on his adjenda:
    1) Plug the leak.
    2) Clean the gulf
    3) Ban all offshore drilling ...PERMANENTLY
    4) Disban the Republican party. THAT'S what needs to go extinct! Not our Wildlife!!!!

    June 15, 2010 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Fustercluck

    I'm confused, If you pump mud into the bottom of the well, doesn't that Increase the pressure of the oil coming out of the well?

    June 16, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Peter

    I have a simple interim plan to the problem while we wait for a second drill hole to be completed. It involves capturing the oil via a large funnel that hovers above the oil outlet – this funnel is then diverted to multiple hoses that snake there way to the surface where an armada of oil tankers queue up to be filled with the oil on a rotating basis and then go to refineries around the world. The profits from the refined oil after cost of refining are used to clean up the oil spill. All other oil producing countries reduce oil output in line with the volume that is gushing out. This is a means to fund the clean up and to capture the oil before it disperses around the gulf.

    June 17, 2010 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Rick

    I think they should pump politicians down the well to plug the leak. When they are prevented from speaking to the camera for a little while, they'll blow up to gargantuan dimensions – exerting unbelievable pressure.

    June 22, 2010 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
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