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Gulf oil spill: The blame game

May 11, 2010 |  9:54 am

Mckay On the first day of congressional hearings into the massive oil spill spreading across the Gulf of Mexico, a top BP executive and other oil industry representatives came under attack from senators for trying to shift blame for the environmental crisis.

"I hear one message, and the message is, 'Don’t blame me,'" Sen. John R. Barrasso (R-Wyo.), normally a strong oil industry ally, said Tuesday. "Well, shifting this blame does not get us very far.’’

BP America’s chairman and president, Lamar McKay, told senators that he could not say yet why its subcontractor Transocean’s supposedly fail-safe blowout preventer failed. Transocean’s chief executive, Steven Newman, said the investigation should focus on "why a cased and cemented wellbore suddenly and catastrophically failed."  But Tim Probert, president of Halliburton’s global business lines, which did the cementing, said the company’s work was done "in accordance with industry standards."

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said that he was seeing a "liability chase ... a bit of a Texas two-step.’’ The officials appeared before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in a crowded hearing room that was the setting for investigations into the sinking of the Titanic, the Teapot Dome scandal and  Watergate.

--Richard Simon

Photo: BP America’s chairman and president, Lamar McKay, told senators that he could not say yet why its subcontractor Transocean’s supposedly fail-safe blowout preventer failed.  Credit: Michael Reynolds / EPA

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