Lawmakers pressure feds to kick BP out of Gulf drilling lease sale

A top BP executive insisted Thursday that the oil giant has learned lessons from the Deepwater Horizon disaster but failed to convince some Democratic lawmakers that the company should be allowed to resume offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

During a wide-ranging hearing examining the 2010 Gulf spill, lawmakers pressed the Obama administration to defend its decision to let BP bid for oil and gas drilling leases during a Dec. 14 auction.

Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., questioned whether the government should “consider suspending or barring BP from this lease sale to give us time to assess whether BP has made necessary changes to protect the Gulf.”

Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., took aim at BP, Transocean and Halliburton — the three companies centrally involved in drilling and securing the failed Macondo well that blew out last year, killing 11 workers and unleashing the nation’s worst oil spill.

“What I hear is a continued failure on the part of the industry to acknowledge its responsibility for the negligence that caused deaths and untold environmental damage,” Holt said. “Maybe the government should debar BP from future lease sales and refuse to issue drilling permits to any operator who plans to use these companies until (they) step up and (admit) this was an accident waiting to happen because of a careless culture.”

The move puts new political pressure on the Obama administration, which considered — but then rejected — the idea of blocking BP from the upcoming sale of western Gulf of Mexico leases. It is the first such auction since last year’s spill.

“The question is: Do you administer the administrative death penalty based on one incident,” said Michael Bromwich, the head of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. “And we’ve concluded _ I’ve concluded _ that’s not appropriate in these circumstances.”

Despite the Deepwater Horizon disaster that sent an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, BP doesn’t “have a deeply flawed record offshore,” Bromwich told reporters. In an “analysis of the relative safety of offshore operators . . . they were in close to the top tier.”

23 Comments

  1. Jackalope

    What do Reps. from MA and NJ know about drilling in the Gulf? Do they know how many jobs have been killed because of the ongoing defacto moratorium? Over 11,000 so far. But those jobs aren’t in their districts. Nor the risks, nor the revenues. Ahh, I guess that’s it. Can’t have some redneck southern states making money when everyone knows it’s the northeastern states that this country depends on. I mean that’s why we bailed out Wall Street and insurance companies.

    #1
  2. olddispatcher

    I can see their point but I don’t agree with it. It appears they are trying to get the companies involved in the disaster to say ‘Yup. I did it!’ but I don’t see how they can until all the facts are in.

    If an oil company has an accident they usually take on the clean-up and claim the release. They can then sue whomever they think they can prove was really at fault. In this case the details are still somewhat murky as to who is really at fault and to what degree, so it will be hard to get anyone to claim the leak as their own.

    But cutting them out of the bidding because of their involvement in one release is not right. OK, so it was the biggest release ever, but it was still a release and BP has not gone all stupid because of it and forgotten how to drill for oil.

    Unless there is a specific law on the books barring them from bidding I say give ‘em a number and let the bidding begin.

    #2
  3. Hotpuppy

    I think BP should definately be given the administrative death penalty. They have a track record of willful negligence (Texas City, Thunderhorse, and Macondo). Halliburton and Transocean should not be blacklisted.

    #3
  4. Adler

    The US government is swimming in red ink, yet they want to bar a company from spending $MILLIONS for federal minerals leases with the potential for even more royalty revenue in the future.

    How dumb can you DEMOCRATS be?

    #4
  5. almostdallas

    Why bar BP from bidding on leases? It’s instant revenue for the govt, and BP likely won’t drill these leases right away. BP has a history of spending lease sale dollars on multi-block “trend” acreage that never gets drilled anyway. The govt would be saying “No thanks, BP, we don’t need your millions of lease dollars right now”, which we know is not the case.

    #5
  6. Velcrow

    It’s all political grandstanding on the part of this administration, BP will no only participate, they will win big leases. After all, they wee a major contributor to the Obama campaign in 08′

    #6
  7. sluggy

    From the article:
    Despite the Deepwater Horizon disaster that sent an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, BP doesn’t “have a deeply flawed record offshore,” Bromwich told reporters. In an “analysis of the relative safety of offshore operators . . . they were in close to the top tier.”
    -
    Bromwich needs to take in BP’s *overall* record into account, not just the ‘single incident’ he cites. They have a corporate culture of negligence that shows in other incidents that they have been responsible for. They should be given the administrative death penalty; it is a pity that corporate nabobs aren’t frog-marched off to jail to await trial when their companies KILL people thru carelessness.

    Of course, there are the usual apologists and greedmongers that see nothing wrong with allowing BP back in; all they see are the dollar signs…
    ==

    #7
  8. Tex

    Seeing the name Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass. in an article makes me puke. Why should someone with no qualifications and no idea on bringing oil and gas to the market be involved in a government three ring circus (also called “hearing”)?

    Time to shut down Ed. Please take HOTPUPPY with you. Someone who claims a company would have an industrial accident because of “willful negligence” must have a couple of screws lose just like you. You make a good pair.

    #8
  9. Billf3

    Maybe the administrative death penalty should be applied to congressional democrats for causing the housing disaster.

    #9
  10. For a good refresher, look at the CSB video on the 2005 BP Texas City Refinery explosion. Lots of problems found there. So, OSHA inspect that refinery a number of months later, and found a number of critical monitoring systems were still broken, even after spending millions to rebuild & renew.

    So, I’m a skeptic when they say they’ve learned their lesson.

    #10
  11. 3D02

    And other energy related companies have clean records worldwide?

    #11
  12. ntangle

    Director Bromwich is talking about incident(s) within his BSEE purview. The TX City Ref. is not his area. He’s not being opportunistically all-inclusive like the politicians. Or like a spouse with a long memory.

    #12
  13. obameliberal

    They are just looking for donations to their campaign.

    #13
  14. Steve Thompson

    It will also be interesting to watch the outcome of a $10 billion class action suit launched over environmental issues in 2010 at BP’s Texas City Refinery as shown here:

    http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2010/08/more-problems-for-bp-at-texas-city-part.html

    #14
  15. subseaguy

    For all of you that are so anxious to see BP go out of business, please remember that you are also wishing for thousands to loose their jobs. I can only hope that there is no one out there wishing similar hardship on you and your family.

    #15
  16. bigjohn431

    the dems will do anything to make a buck,including getting oil companies to pay them a bribe to give them a permit to drill.obama has that stuff down pat.

    #16
  17. TexKB

    Typical fascist behavior we have come to expect from the Demorat party.

    #17
  18. jaycee

    Billf3
    October 13, 2011, 9:34 PM
    Maybe the administrative death penalty should be applied to congressional democrats for causing the housing disaster.
    ——————————————————-
    Yes it was all the democrats fault about the housing bubble bursting:

    CNN
    Bush aims to boost minority home ownership
    June 17, 2002

    President Bush touted his goal Monday of boosting minority home ownership by 5.5 million before the end of the decade through grants to low-income families and credits to developers.

    “Too many American families, too many minorities, do not own a home. There is a home ownership gap in America. The difference between African-American and Hispanic home ownership is too big,” Bush told a crowd at St. Paul AME Church in Atlanta.

    Citing data he used Saturday in his weekly radio address, Bush said that while nearly three-quarters of white Americans own their homes, less than half of African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans are homeowners. He urged Congress to expand the American Dream Down-Payment Fund, which would provide $200 million in grants over five years to low-income families who are first-time home buyers. The money would be used for down payments, one of the major obstacles to home ownership, Bush said. It is anticipated that 40,000 low-income families — receiving about $5,000 each — would benefit from those grants, he added.

    To encourage the construction of single-family homes in neighborhoods where affordable housing is scarce, developers would receive $2.4 billion in tax credits to build lower-cost housing in distressed areas. The fund also would offer financial education and counseling to protect home buyers from abuses and help them get the best loan terms possible, Bush said. Bush toured Atlanta’s Pryor Road area, where new housing developments are replacing rundown housing projects. One of the new developments is the Villages at Carver. Bush said he met with several homeowners.

    “They’re so proud to own their own home,” Bush said. “What we’ve got to do is make sure these stories are repeated over and over.”

    Bush added, “I do believe in the American dream. I believe there is such a thing as the American dream. And I believe those of us who have been given positions of responsibility must do everything we can to spotlight the dream.”

    He said, “Owning a home is a part of that dream.”

    Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the federal Home Loan Banks — the government-sponsored corporations that handle home mortgages — will increase their commitment to minority markets by more than $440 billion, Bush said. Under one of the initiatives launched by Freddie Mac, consumers with poor credit will be able to obtain mortgages with interest rates that automatically decline after a period of consistent payments, he added.

    #18
  19. jaycee

    Tex
    October 13, 2011, 9:23 PM
    Seeing the name Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass. in an article makes me puke. Why should someone with no qualifications and no idea on bringing oil and gas to the market be involved in a government three ring circus (also called “hearing”)?
    ——————————————–
    And what exactly qualifies you to voice your knowledge of these hearings. Maybe when you get off your couch and get elected someone might care.

    #19
  20. Tex

    jaycee,

    I have listened to previous hearings and the quality of the questions our “representatives” are asking. The problem is that the “representatives” have the questions prepared for them and they have no clue what they are asking. Rep. Markey is probably the least qualified member of the Washington Day Care and we get sick of seeing these guys wasting tax payer resources.

    I assume you jaycee have taken the time to read and understand the numerous reports following the MC 252 incident? If so, you should be able to conclude that there is absolutely no purpose of another hearing other than a few democrats getting up in front of their ignorant constituents.

    It is time to prioritize since we have limited resources. Do you want our “representatives” to waste their time on useless hearings (i.e. Clements and Macondo) or would you like to see this great country get back on its feet? Sounds like you like to waste time and that you are happy with the situation as is.

    I have considered running for office as a conservative. There are two problems, however. They are:

    1. I am not religious, but I am still a good person. Religion takes the front seat and determines who get in office.

    2. Do I really want to waste my time with the Washington Day Care? I suppose if I wanted to be on government welfare.

    #20
  21. Rick Morgan

    What, dissension in the ranks? Call the NAACP, it’s racism at it’s mostest horribliest way!! How dare he blame ODUMMY for taking BP’s money and then giving something in return?

    BTW, has anyone looked at the political contributions of Feinberg’s law firm? Which DUMOCRAT PAC or Super PAC got the most of that $1million a month he says he is worth? Betcha a dollar!

    #21
  22. jaycee

    Tex,

    So we should just let BP completely destroy the Gulf Of Mexico the next time an accident happens? I worked at Amoco after Gulf Oil sold a portion of the refineries to Amoco back in the mid 80s in a maintenance position. I worked for BP when the merger happened(right off I10 West and Hwy 6). I do not recall any accidents while employed at Amoco but within a decade BP has had one refinery explode(Amoco Texas City) and has almost destroyed the Gulf because of roughly the same incompetence I witnessed as a software engineer by the BP employees overseas.
    ————————————————————

    I assume you jaycee have taken the time to read and understand the numerous reports following the MC 252 incident? If so, you should be able to conclude that there is absolutely no purpose of another hearing other than a few democrats getting up in front of their ignorant constituents.

    Does BP take the blame for the accident?

    http://www.boemre.gov/ooc/press/2011/press0914.htm

    Oh my Tex the final report just came out less than 30 days ago so maybe before new leasing is allowed by BP the people who make the decision about the leases should see if BP has made appropriate changes to further safety and disaster preparedness. I guess without the FINAL report the ignorant constituents would not want to jump to conclusions like the smart constituents appear to do.

    #22
  23. Tex

    jaycee,

    Why did YOU not sound the alarm if you witnessed so much incompetence in your maintenance position at BP?

    Sounds like you were either lazy or indifferent and that you are pretty comfortable being the Monday morning quarterback in spite of having the opportunity and the obligation to take action. YOU and people like you are a big part of the problem when you see something wrong and do nothing about it.

    By the way, what did YOUR GOVERNMENT report tell us that we already did not know? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! You do not even have to be smart to figure that one out.

    #23