Republican: Deepwater Horizon investigators blocked from testifying


House Republicans abruptly called off today’s congressional hearing to examine a federal probe of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, blaming the cancelation on the Obama administration’s “last-minute refusal to allow investigation team members to testify.”

The House Natural Resources Committee hearing was set to look into the final conclusions of a joint Coast Guard and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement investigation into last year’s oil spill.

Republican committee leaders, led by Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., insisted that investigators who were on the front lines probing the disaster testify about the inquiry. When the administration ultimately offered up a top BOEMRE official, they called off the hearing.

Hastings accused the Obama administration of “delaying proper oversight by suddenly refusing to allow members of the investigation team to testify.”

In a statement, the committee chairman said his panel’s staff were led to believe those joint investigation team members would be on the witness stand:

“Based on numerous conversations between committee staff and the administration, it was confirmed that investigators from the BOEM and Coast Guard team would be testifying at Friday’s hearing,” Hastings said. “It’s unacceptable for the committee not to be able to hear from the actual investigators who conducted the investigation and wrote the report.”

Obama administration officials said it would be inappropriate for career staff at the ocean energy bureau and Coast Guard to testify. They noted that line investigators cannot address the broad consequences of the probe or its recommendations, including what drilling standards and practices should be changed as a result.

According to a joint statement by the ocean energy bureau and Coast Guard:

“BOEMRE and the Coast Guard were responsive to Chairman Hastings and his Committee’s request late last week for a hearing. However, we felt strongly from the beginning it was inappropriate for BOEMRE and Coast Guard line investigators to testify, and presented alternative options. We are seeking a meeting tomorrow with the Chairman to better clarify the situation and discuss a path forward to allow the committee to accomplish its important oversight responsibilities while maintaining the process important to ensure that investigations can be conducted impartially and professionally.”

Hastings said he intends to hold the hearing after all — on Oct. 6. In a statement released Thursday evening, Hastings vowed that the top JIT investigators — and the companies cited in the panel’s report — will testify before the natural resources committee:

“The Interior Department and the Coast Guard have been notified that I expect the two chairmen of the investigative team who wrote the report to be available to appear before the Committee on October 6.”

Negotiations over the lineup are set to continue. The committee could pursue subpoenas to compel testimony from investigation members. And possible middle ground solutions involve the appearance of senior leadership from the bureau and Coast Guard who were closely involved in the joint investigation — even if they didn’t conduct the hearings in New Orleans.

But that seems unlikely to satisfy committee Republicans, who may be especially eager to hear from the ocean energy bureau’s lead investigator on the joint investigation team, who just resigned to work for Chevron. The investigator, David Dykes, left after more than a dozen years working with the ocean energy bureau and its predecessor, the Minerals Management Service. The Coast Guard’s lead investigator on the joint investigative team was Capt. Hung Nguyen.

An appearance by Dykes would give lawmakers a chance to probe rumors that tensions between the investigators and officials in Washington led to repeated delays in issuing the probe’s final report.

BOEMRE Director Michael Bromwich recently attributed the delays to “the difficulty and the complexity of putting together ar eport of this magnitude and melding the technical experience that we had in members of the investigative team with others (who played) a role in drafting the report.”

Bromwich said in a recent interview that the government faced “the dual challenges of making sure that the report is technically accurate in every respect, but also that it is readable and understandable to the lay person.”

Jennifer Dlouhy

8 Responses

  1. Rick Morgan says:

    ‘others who had a hand in molding the report’? Are facts just that, facts? Or do the spin doctors get a chance to exclude those un-necessary factoids which would reflect poorly on the administration and it’s highly placed, but oh-so inept managers?

    More B.S. from the administration, filtering the facts to make the upper echelons look good.

  2. Tex says:

    May be it is time for the empty suits in Washington DC (Day Care) to start concentrating on job creation and the economy.

    We know what happened at Macondo. The industry is taking the necessary steps to get back in operations. What will another hearing accomplish?

    This country is doomed as long as we keep sending morons to the Day Care who believes it is important to waste resources on whether Clements used steroids or no.

  3. blind says:

    It wouldn’t matter to some people if Obuma called them personally and told them HE gave the order to NOT testify. Some people enjoy being BLIND.

  4. chiefdecoy says:

    Typical lying Republicans? Hahaha! What a party puppet. BOTH of these corrupt, inept party’s wouldn’t know how to tell the truth, if they took a college course on it.

    Sounds like Republicans are the only one’s who want to see what those investigators on the ground have to say. Not some bureaucrat who answers directly to Obama, with a willingness to spin the information to the liking of the current Administration…..

  5. Peter says:

    WriterDude, you may need to read the article again. It was the OBAMA administration that would NOT allow the investigators (aka the people with the knowledge about the event) to testify. Or are you saying that Cheney runs the Obama administration?

  6. tboyinhouston says:

    typical lying republicans

  7. w00t says:

    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Why wouldn’t you allow the investigators to testify? If that’s not a Kangaroo Court, I don’t know what is. If you’re looking to do some grandstanding and scold some CEOs with predetermined conclusions…then just do it. You may be able to pull the wool over the eyes of ignorant people, but, Conservatives aren’t inferiority complex riddled, simple minded, easily influenced tools for activist to manipulate. Obama is playing you like the envious fools you are.

  8. WriterDude says:

    Dick Cheney must have made “the phone call.”