May 26th, 2010
09:08 PM ET
5 years ago

'This did not have to happen,' Stupak says of oil spill


Washington (CNN) – A Democrat leading congressional hearings into the causes of the Gulf oil spill said Wednesday that the catastrophe could have been avoided if the companies responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil rig had heeded a series of warning signs in the hours leading up to the rig's explosion. And Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Michigan, also said that many of the federal regulatory agencies charged with protecting the public have been "devastated" due to a lack of funding during the Bush administration.

Stupak sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is the chair of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Stupak's subcommittee issued a report Tuesday that detailed a number of warning signs missed by rig operators prior to its explosion on the night of April 20.

Related: Signs of trouble evident before explosion, report says

"Two hours out [from the explosion], the fundamental flaw was made," the Michigan Democrat said on CNN's John King, USA. At that point, when gas and fluid began to spurt out of the well in an indication that pressure was building, "you should have started shutting things down," said Stupak. "They didn't. They moved forward."

Asked about apparent similarities between the lack of federal regulatory oversight in this case and in recent mining tragedies, Stupak told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King that federal agencies do not have the resources they need to engage in adequate regulation.

"These regulatory agencies – and I'm not being partisan here, but - in the last administration were devastated. People were laid off. People were let go. They were down to skeleton crews. They cut corners. The didn't have experts who knew – whether it was NHTSA or the Minerals Management Service."

When King pointed out that the Obama administration has had the reins of the executive branch for the last 15 months, Stupak responded that it takes some time "to ramp up."

The congressman also told King that he did not trust embattled energy giant BP. “BP wasn’t telling us the truth,” said Stupak. The Democrat estimated that, across the oil and gas industry, there were 30-50 blowout preventers in Gulf oil rigs that might be faulty like the one on the Deepwater Horizon's well apparently was.

And the Democrat said that in order to prevent a similar disaster, two things are necessary: more regulation of drilling in environmentally sensitive areas and better regulation by federal watchdogs charged with keeping an eye on the oil and gas industry.

Stupak added, "This did not have to happen. This was just pure negligence."

Updated: 9:44 p.m.


Filed under: Bart Stupak • Energy • JKUSA • John King USA • Popular Posts
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Edward

    Here we go, back to the Bush Administration "due to lack of funding". Democrats never cease to amaze me with their ignorance. There have been many airliner crashes with warnings in advance. So, do we stop flying now? Wait, the last planes to go down during the Hussein Obama administration must have been Bush's fault. No accident has to happen but they do! No one planned for this oil spill to happen and 11 lives taken in the midst of it.

    May 26, 2010 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  2. Goofball

    Ahd where did stupick get his knowledge of the oilfield?Another ill informed congressional mouthpiece for the obama green team, who blames everything on the former admin.I was no bush fan either, but the bunch we have know in power is laughable. If your going to put someone in charge of investigating something, at least use some one has knowledge of what he is looking at, not some career politician who only knows how to bs.

    May 26, 2010 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  3. Bart Simpson Stupak

    Give it up Stupak. You're goose is cooked and nobody cares what you have to say about anything. You sold your soul for Obama care. Your fate has been sealed and the devil awaits!

    May 26, 2010 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  4. Randy, San Francisco

    Thanks to the Conservative Activists on the United States Supreme Court oil companies like BP can continue to buy politicians from BOTH political parties with unlimited funding of their election campaigns. Republican and Democrat politicians should look in the mirror when complaining of sweet heart treatment and lack of appropriate regulatory control of oil drilling.

    May 26, 2010 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  5. Knowmorethanyou

    As Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations isn't it your job to see that incidents like this don't happen. You sir, have been asleep at the wheel. It's easy to point fingers when the oil hits the fan. We don't need more regulations from the government. We need government to get off their lazy behinds and enforce the measures already in place. It's time for you to pack your bags and go home if all you do is run your mouth and fail to do your job.

    May 26, 2010 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  6. Hammerer

    While you guys were ramming obamacare through others decided that they did not need to play by the rules either.

    May 26, 2010 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  7. Josh

    That's right... Blame Bush. It's all about blaming Bush. The oil spill is due, in part, to lack of funding during the Bush administration. Ken Salazar has said that improving those departments was important on day 1. Okay... So I check the date and it's May, 2010. King Obama has been in office for nearly 1.5 years. Let's say the funding problems are true. It's taken 1.5 years to improve those departments and to provide them proper funding?

    Here's what really happened: Those departments may have been completely and totally slipshod. However, Obama was caught with a disaster for which he has done nothing but blame others and have his lackeys blame others. Somehow they think that blaming w/o taking any responsibility will win the day. They were asleep at the wheel as much as anyone, but it's easier to blame the guy who left office well over a year ago.

    I also love Ken Salazar's bravado: If BP doesn't do a good job, he's gonna move them out of the way. Uh hunh. Sure. That's big talk now that the coastline of the southern US is an oil slick. This is turning into a Katrina moment... The government is relying on a private company to do all the work w/o any proper oversight. Heckuva Job, Kenny.

    May 26, 2010 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  8. Marie MD

    It did not need to happen, but it did happen back in 1979 in the Gulf no less. Relief wells were the only way the oil rig was capped after months!
    In other words, BP has been wasting their time using exactly the same procedures used thirty years ago that failed big time.
    History repeats itself and the oil companies have learned nothing from it.

    May 26, 2010 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  9. George E Burrows

    While I agree that the downsizing that the oversite people have indured probably was a major factor in the oil spill and mining mining problems, I fail to see any improvement in the numbers of people working at these oversite agencies. Stupak says "It takes time to ramp things up". This administration has had 15 months to "ramp" things up. Just when did this ramping begin? And how many additional people have been hired in this "Ramp Up"? Are these qualified inspectors or are they office workers? These are just a couple of questions that he should have had the answers for when he gave the interview. Its only human nature to blame the other guy but if you have had over a year to reconize a problem and haven't taken steps to correct it, you"re as responsible as they are.

    May 26, 2010 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  10. Arkansas Traveler

    Of course, Democrats take no responsibility here.

    Are we the people so stupid not to realize that Democrats have had control of Congress since 2006? That Obama has been President for a year and half now?

    Really? When will the blame Bush strategy end? Democrats are accountable for nothing. If Republicans are the party of "No", then Democrats are the party of "No Accountability". Vote all of them out! We would do better with stupid, inexperienced representatives.

    May 26, 2010 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  11. Bob in PA

    You are right, it didn't have to happen like this. You all in DC could have allowed them to drill in shallower waters where emergencies could more easily be addressed and managed. So if you want to point fingers, the first two should be pointing at Congress and the Senate.

    May 26, 2010 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  12. dennis

    Who cares what Stupak says, he'll be on one side 99% of the time, then when the 1% time comes to stand up and be counded, he'll cave into join up with the other side of the issue.

    May 26, 2010 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  13. ThinkAgain

    This is what happens when industry is self-regulating and profit is its only concern. Reasonable regulation – including mandatory safety mechanisms with redundancies – is what's needed.

    And to all the nay-sayers out there: Reasonable regulation will NOT kill industry; a completely free market will (I refer you to the Wall Street financial collapse and the oil spill in the Gulf for proof).

    May 26, 2010 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  14. ThinkAgain

    Our federal government doesn't have the expertise to clean up this spill – nor should people expect it to have this expertise.

    Republicans are always going on about how the private sector does things better and more efficiently than the government – except, of course, when private industry totally messes up as a result of its greedy, short-term, self-centered practices (Wall Street, BP, etc.).

    Then the Republicans start moaning on about wanting a bailout and a rapid Federal response and help and tax breaks, etc., etc., etc.

    BP made this mess – and they should clean it up, down to every last, tiny drop of oil.

    May 26, 2010 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  15. Jo

    If you read back as far as the 80's you will learn that BP has a poor track record as far as repairs needed. They are much more concerned about the bottom line and the high salary's that is paid to the top people. They are known to take a gamble that an accident will not occur. It is so sad that greed takes first priority over the lives of people. I live within the galveston area and know several people that performs these inspections. Why is it that our government and all officials do not FORCE these companies to comply? God help them on judgement day.

    May 26, 2010 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  16. worriedmom

    oh boy here we go, it is bush's fault...... Stupak your words mean nothing. you sold your soul on health reform.
    By the way if you knew all of this was cut during Bush's term what prevented you and the gang from making things right. It has been 18 months.

    May 26, 2010 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  17. Mike

    stupak just needs to shut up until he is up for reelection then he also will be sent home for selling his vote on health care.

    May 26, 2010 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  18. JohnnyBoy

    Isn't that cute that we're blaming this all on Bush again. The Congress, during Bush's term spent money on everything under the sun. Weren't the Congressmen who prepared and voted on the budget responsible for anything? Good Grief!! Grow some, buddyboy!! Time for you to take a very long vacation from Washington and think about your role in all this. Bye...

    May 26, 2010 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  19. Sarah Palin...Are you there?

    You still wanna "DRILL BABY DRILL" without a plan?

    Nevermind, trying to talking to you is like talking to a wall!

    To think you're GOP' s answer to ALL of their problems!

    May 26, 2010 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  20. Norm

    No it didn't have to happen, but the people we all trust to over see these idiots were in bed with them from day one. So now we have to have an over sight committee to over see the over sight committee. Get your act together Washington. This is your fault just as the collapse of our economy is your doing too. We're getting pretty fed up with this corruption and it's going to come to an end real fast.

    May 26, 2010 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  21. Bob

    Congress is very good at getting their minions to dig up stuff so they can tell the American people what we already know. Shut Up! This is not a time for Monday morning quarterbacking. That will all be assessed in due time.

    Now is the time for some Presidential leadership on the "Clean-up" which has not been forthcoming. This is a travesty. Look BP takes direction from our regulators to include the President. If the President had said, I want as much a response effort to stop the oil from coming ashore as you are doing to try to stop the flow, then BP would have executed under the National Incident Command System in Place.

    The President has not taken the leadership on this but past it on to those mostly inept, I leave out Admiral Thad Allen out of that group.
    If I was the governor of Louisiana or any of the Parish Presidents, I would be going for the juglar on this one. They are not getting the help they need ON THE GROUND!!!

    May 26, 2010 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  22. Sarah, the baby seal basher

    Its not just BP.Its the other two companies also.Send in the army and nationalize them all now.

    May 26, 2010 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  23. Mike

    Stupak should just take whatever bribe job Obama gave him for selling out his country instead of waiting until the end of his term. It's not that I don't agree that BP and a list of others are to blame. However, waiting this long to blame Bush is transparently idiotic. What he's saying is that the evil Bush administration forced these agencies into emergancy conditions against the wishes of the brilliant democrats. NEWS FLASH: Democracts have held the Senate, House and Presidency for over a year and a half, and have never so much as spoken a word about this. How long does it take to START the EMERGANCY changes you knew were needed? If what he is saying is true then the democrats are more liable than anyone else! Stupak's stupidity would be comical if he didn't have such a powerful position. I'm starting to believe that he actually thought that Obama's executive order to "ban aborations" from the health care bill might actually get past the supreme court...nevermind nobody is that stupid. He must just think that everyone else is that stupid. Mark my words he will be apointed by the Obama regimn to whatever cumfy job they negotiated. Once his term is up it's payment time for his health care votes. At least with the mafia they don't pretend to be nobel.

    May 27, 2010 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  24. normajean

    How clever it is of you to know "this didn't have to happen". We KNOW that. The point is it did happen and the reason was because the people in charge were trying to cut corners and save money. This is absolutely insane. "Penny wise and pound foolish is what we used to call it, but I call it criminal. and I think the corporation behind it should have to pay for cleaning up the entire Gulf of Mexico and pay all of the families that lost their livelyhood./One more thing, lay of the guilt aimed at the president. He has his hands full with the failures of the last administration and has little if any responsibility for this mess.

    May 27, 2010 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  25. JonDie

    Actually, this DID have to happen...and we have no one to blame but ourselves for letting the oil companies run our world. It was OUR choice.

    May 27, 2010 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
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