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. Teresa Smith

    The right wing said that a business should go under if it couldnt make it. If BP goes under at least it will be trying to make the wrong right. That should be worth it. Then go after the people who paid off the people that let business do as it wants at the cost of all of us. Put them in jail. That also counts for business who want to bring in cheap labor and hurts everyone.

    June 15, 2010 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  2. Rick McDaniel

    The billions in profits from the current oil prices, not to mention the previously outrageous prices, say that oil companies are not planning for any social responsibility, with those windfall profits, so if that is going to be the case, those profits should become heavily taxed.

    June 15, 2010 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  3. schoolsub

    Does anyone know what the static pressure of this well would be? That is the pressure exerted, at the sea bed, if a cap or closed valve were to be placed on the well and no flow would be demonstrated.

    June 15, 2010 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Darrell

      Current Pressure is estimated at between 10,000 and 17,000 PSI, no valve exist that can take that kind of pressure, that's what the BOP was supposed to do and it failed because of the pressure. The ONLY way to kill the well is to Couple on to the existing drill steml which is in the 21" Riser and then force Drilling Mud down the drill stem to BOTTOM KILL the well.This would put the pressure at the bottom where it belongs. Why BP doesn't attempt this is beyond me. I submitted a design sketch for a Flange spool piece to control the spill and latch onto the Drill stem to the Horizon Support Team and received a response stating that it was under review. That was a week ago.

      June 15, 2010 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Sunil

      I worked in an Shell polymers plant which was operated at 1000 atm (14,700 psi). Test pressures for the valves were 2000 atm (29,400 psi). It is not true that such vavles do not exist – just that BP seems to be looking for a valve that can be tapped later to continue oil production. If they so much as desired to kill the well and prevent future oil production they would have done it much earlier. Greedy corporate profits at play here.

      June 15, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • VeryOldMan

      Darrell, you cannot pump mud down the drill stem if the stem is not located at or near the bottom of the well. The mud will be pushed out by the blowing oil/gas. BP actually tried some thing similar to what you suggested, Top Kill. It did not work.

      June 15, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      I know i'm running a risk at responding to these questions/comments but,...
      1) Darrell is probably correcct. While valves rated up to pressure of even 60,000 psi exist, the BOP is connected to a 21 inch diameter pipe. Small diamter vavles are subject to the pressure on a much smaller area. The upward focre on a 20 inch ID pipe at 15,000 psi is 4.7 MILLION pounds.
      2) As for Veryoldman. The mud used to drill the well held the pressure of the oil during the drilling of the well. The weigh of the mud pluss the pressure generated by the pumps was fo sufficient force to hold the oil down the well. the problem arose when the mud above sea level was removed. The intersecting relieif well will have all the weight advantages of the original well. The top kill required too much pressure to overcome the lack of mud weight.

      June 15, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      Might as well pray to the easter bunny. Same thing.

      June 15, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bonk

    You should plug it by praying as hard as you can for god to plug it. Things like that are bound to work, right? 😀

    June 15, 2010 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • schoolsub

      .....but sometimes God wants us to work with Him in solving the problems that we have caused.

      June 15, 2010 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Bonk

      To work with him? Aka work by ourselves? What part of the work would god be doing other than watching marshes die and people lose jobs while talking on a 1-way radio to folks like you saying 'oh just work with me, it'll be ok'? What part does he want to do exactly?

      June 15, 2010 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • msaprilr

      God had nothing to do with creating this problem, why would God fix it? He gave us brains and rules to work with. We broke the rules, now we suffer the consequences. The wages of sin is death and we just spread death all over the gulf of Mexico. That's our problem, not God's. American's need to learn to face responsibility for their actions. The gulf oil spill is OUR fault.

      June 15, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • ekklesiakid

      Rev. 8:8

      June 15, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. R. Unger

    Now this is all the oil companies fault and the government is not in any way responsible. Nice spin from... the government. The government approved the drilling plans and the useless contingency plans. BP is at fault, but they had some willing partners in crime, the MMS and EPA. Will they be put on show like the oil executives?

    June 15, 2010 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jim the Anvil

    I think the game is on. Obama will try to get a financial committment from BP today (or tomorrow) of between 15 billion and 20 billion in exchange for U.S govt. taking over the Gulf Recovery Act BP will offer no more than 1 or 2 Billion and THUS, THE GAME IS ON . ..

    June 15, 2010 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  7. ibuk

    Yet another waste of tax dollars, instead of trying to justify their paycheck by holding hearings. these politicians should get off their fat a$$ and go down there and clean up some of these tar balls of the beaches. This would be far more productive.

    June 15, 2010 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • get_a_clue

      And how long after getting off YOUR fat a$$ and shoveling tar balls would you start to think that the people who caused this... a) shouldn't have caused it in the first place, and b) should be fully responsible for stopping it, cleaning it up, and paying for all the damages???

      June 15, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. damiao


    June 15, 2010 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jonsie

    Let's put the oil companies out of business, go back to using candles, riding horses, and growing our food. This seems to be the libs answer, since there is not alternative to oil now, but the majority of businesses in the world need petrouleum based products I guess we'll just put everyone out of work, except Congress of course; they can just keep meeting and trying to come up with more regs! (Or enact laws that don't apply to them).

    June 15, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • msaprilr

      What makes you think we have to use candles and ride horses if we say goodbye to oil? Have you been brainwashed into believing that burning fossil fuels is the only way to get energy? Snap out of it. There are at least 4 reliable, easy, safe energy sources that we can all use right now. The only reason they're not "MainStream" is because of the money politicians get from the Oil and gas lobbyists. They will keep on shoveling the BS as long as people like you eat it.

      June 15, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • pinarello

      It's not just energy, but the chemicals, plastics, electronics, etc that we all use everyday. Stop refining oil and cracking it into ethylene and you can forget about being able to produce all of those wonderful things in your home and work.

      June 15, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      ... Don't we grow our food now? I mean, in general, most of the food in the world is grown (either livestock or plants), and processed foods are grown as well. Even laboratory foods are grown... I don't think I would want to eat something that is not grown...? I thought eating food was something all humans enjoyed, not just "libs"... hmmm...

      June 15, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Freeman

      Right now, without petroleum products, modern civilization would come to a halt and millions would starve. There are alternatives, but it will take 20-50 years to get the infrastructure in place to take advantage of them. That's why we have to get started now, and why the need for petroleum will actually grow before it begins to shrink.

      June 15, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      Let's not forget fertilizer! It comes from natural gas.

      June 15, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JamesC

    It's just sickening to see the old Republican duck and run. If the well could have been plugged it would have by now. It's the lack of Republican oversight, and indeed their lies that oversight is bad that has destroyed much of the Gulf. People need to wake up to that fact. These spills don't happen to this extent in Europe where they keep an eye on all industries.

    June 15, 2010 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • msaprilr

      I'm not so sure. If they plug it, they can't get any oil out of it. And it takes a lot of time and money to drill another hole. If they leave it this way, they can at least suck some of the oil up and recoup a little bit of their losses. I'm thinking they don't want to plug it.

      June 15, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. andy

    Its amazing to see people on this site blame Bush and the republicans. Obama is in office and done nothing to prevent this. When will Obama and his sheeple followers grow up and take responsibilty like big boys. Dems have controlled congress for quite a while and have cared about nothing but how to spend, spend , spend.

    June 15, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  12. Matt Moody

    Assessing culpabilty and creating alternatives should be the only foci of this hearing. A lot of Congressmen and Executives would be completely useless when determining "how to 'plug the well'". If these sorts of hearings can actually solve problems, why haven't we had o0ne on curing cancer?

    June 15, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jim the Anvil

    Let me ask the fascist republicants a question. What was Obama to do the day he heard of the broken drill rig disaster?
    Send in the troops? Wait a few days, or weeks to see if BP could solve their own problem?
    Perhaps Obama was a bit slow on the draw but he has visited the disaster several times, obviously finds BP's efforst rather pathetic and knows that the entire Gulf is calling for his scalp (not Tony Hayward, Hayward is not a human being, he's a bloody animal)

    June 15, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ed

    Political piousness drives me nuts: Today Big Oil is the villian but it wasn't long ago when the politicians (both Dems AND Repubs) were taking big campaign bucks from oil and gas companies – now they can't get far enough from them:

    Candidate & Amount:
    McCain, John (R-AZ) $2,677,064
    Hutchison, Kay Bailey (R-TX) $2,137,225
    Gramm, Phil (R-TX) $1,682,814
    Cornyn, John (R-TX) $1,638,450
    Barton, Joe (R-TX) $1,447,880
    Inhofe, James M (R-OK) $1,228,223
    Pearce, Steve (R-NM) $981,272
    Young, Don (R-AK) $980,263
    Obama, Barack (D) $973,051
    McConnell, Mitch (R-KY) $860,261
    Nickles, Don (R-OK) $841,388
    Vitter, David (R-LA) $783,835
    Dole, Bob (R) $781,705
    Landrieu, Mary L (D-LA) $757,744
    Domenici, Pete V (R-NM) $747,897
    DeLay, Tom (R-TX) $689,840
    Conaway, Mike (R-TX) $651,718
    Sessions, Pete (R-TX) $642,864
    Tiahrt, Todd (R-KS) $618,773
    Santorum, Rick (R-PA) $614,178

    DataSource is Center for Responsive Politics.

    Politicians should concentrate on releasing the emegency funding the gov't already has to get this fixed and THEN nail BP to the wall to recoup.

    June 15, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Abdal-Latif

      Both Dem & Republicans? Your list is all Republicans except for two Democrats. Let's call a spade a spade. Both parties are bought and paid for (Dems: teachers' unions), but in this case it's the Republicans that are the ultimate cause of the problem.

      June 15, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. fbaden

    An explosive ordianance disposal acquaintance of mine from the Air Force told me the way they put out well fires is to drop explosives into them which when they blow up, seal the well; end of oil, end of fire! He should know, because he is a Cajun FROM Louisiana!! Are we out of gunpowser?????

    June 15, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sunil

      That is true of oil well FIRES. But this well is a few miles down – there is no fire to put out. BP has to cap the well which they seem reluctant to do since that would mean losing reserves for quite some time.

      June 15, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      Watch "Hellfighters" with John Wayne to answer your question.

      June 15, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
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