June 7th, 2010
09:25 AM ET
8 years ago

House subcommittee holds hearing on oil spill


The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a field hearing on the local impact of the oil spill. (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images: Grand Isle, Louisiana)

(CNN) - The House Committee on Energy and Commerce will open shop on the bayou Monday morning, holding a hearing in Chalmette, Louisiana.

The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a field hearing on "Local Impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill," near ground zero for the growing disaster.

At about the same time, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the federal government's response manager to the oil disaster, will be in Washington briefing President Barack Obama and the cabinet on the administration's ongoing response to the incident.

Also Monday, Carol Browner, the president's assistant for energy and climate change will host a video chat to answer questions from the public about the oil disaster. The chat can be viewed at WhiteHouse.gov or at the White House's Facebook page.

The expanding government response comes as the effects of the gusher are spreading along the Gulf coast.

Federal officials reported Sunday that dead birds with oil on them have been reported in Texas for the first time. Dead wildlife has been reported in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and Texas.

The report came during a weekend in which oil company BP's senior vice president, Bob Fryar said the company was "pleased" with its operation to funnel crude up from the ruptured undersea well to a drilling ship a mile above on the Gulf of Mexico.

Fryar said the company funneled about 250,000 gallons of oil on Friday from a containment cap installed on the well to a drilling ship on the ocean surface.

On Saturday, BP had increased the amount of oil it was funneling to about 441,000 gallons to the surface. Federal authorities estimate that 798,000 gallons of crude are gushing into the sea every day.

Allen said Sunday that BP has made progress in its cleanup efforts, but cautioned it was too early to call the effort a success.

"We're making the right progress. I don't think anyone should be pleased as long as there's oil in the water," Allen said on CNN's "State of the Union."

Allen confirmed that BP has been able to bring oil to the surface after placing the cap, but said no one should be pleased until a relief well is completed and the leaking stops.

"This is an insidious enemy," Allen said. "It's attacking all of our shores, it's holding the gulf hostage, basically."

In an appearance on ABC's "This Week," Allen described the current state of the spill as a series of pools, ranging from 20-100 yards to several miles in length.

"The spill has disaggregated over a 200-mile radius around the wellbore. It's not a monolithic spill. It is literally hundreds and thousands of smaller spills," he said.

Even as the administration has tried to distance itself from oil company BP in recent days - with the Justice Department launching both criminal and civil investigations into the disaster - it has not been enough to temper the frustration seething among residents along the coastline.

Florida Sen. George LeMieux, a Republican, demanded that BP donate $1 billion for a cleanup fund for the five Gulf states and said that President Barack Obama "needs to push them to do that."

"I want to see this president more engaged here on the ground, working through problems," LeMieux said.

On "State of the Union," Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said his state is "as ready as we can be," as the currents moved the oil eastward.

In addition to a declaration of a state of disaster, Florida has about 250,000 feet of boom spread around the panhandle and has another 250,000 feet available, Crist said.

Florida is also pushing BP to respond to claims made by business owners who are losing business and facing crisis because of the spill.

"In the short term, we want these claims to be responded to more quickly," Crist said. "These people need help, and we need to be there to try to make them as whole as we can during this very difficult process."

Tony Kennon, the mayor of Orange Beach, Alabama, confronted Fryar at a weekend news conference for not acting promptly when reports of tar balls washing ashore surfaced. Visibly upset, Kennon said local officials have been asking to meet with BP officials for over a month, but their requests went unanswered.

"If you sensed our frustration, you would have been here a lot sooner," Kennon told Fryar. "People in Orange Beach are starving to death now because they can't get out to catch the fish."

Allen said the Alabama incident the mayor referred to was the result of a mechanical failure where a boom became disconnected before a skimmer arrived to prevent the oil from reaching the shore.

Overall, however, Allen said it is the federal government who is charge of making sure BP is carrying out its cleanup responsibilities.

In an effort to respond faster, Coast Guard field commanders don't need approval to get cleanup equipment out, Allen said.

"If there's oil out there, they need to call in skimming equipment," he said. "We don't want them to go two or three levels up to higher authority to be able to do that. I've given direct orders to all my field commanders out there that when they see oil and they have the capability to respond and they're to do it."

Not all states were suffering equally the effects of the disaster.

In Mississippi, barely any oil had appeared on its shores, but its tourist industry was nonetheless feeling the pinch.

"The truth is we've had virtually no oil," Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour told "Fox News Sunday." "If you were on the Mississippi gulf coast anytime in the last 48 days, you didn't see any oil at all."

The biggest effect the state has felt, Barbour said, was from media reports saying that the entire Gulf Coast was affected.

Mississippi's "tourist season has been hurt by misperceptions of what's going on down here," he said.

Filed under: Energy • House
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Get A Grip

    Sure hope they look into why this rig was given a safety award in '09 by the Obama administration. Gee, I wonder if that $77,051 campaign donation given to Obama by BP had anything to do with it.

    June 7, 2010 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  2. Marie MD

    is "barber" going to continue to leave MS when President Obama comes to the Gulf Coast?
    Seems that he has been gone twice already. The good ole boy was in NY at a picnic while his state might be overrun by oil?
    What a joke this guy is!

    June 7, 2010 09:08 am at 9:08 am |

    Browner must go...

    June 7, 2010 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  4. aneanderthal

    And of course their goal is to advance the libertard "cap and tax" agenda rather than actually do something about the spill. For these libertards it is all about stealing more money from hard working Americans so they can give it to SEIU and the other corrupt unions as well as their dope smoking, non working supporters.

    June 7, 2010 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  5. Ron in California

    ARE YOU KIDDING? Get up off you plump behinds and get mobilized. We don't need a hearing we need ACTION. Send in more resouces and peopele o ge the job done......

    June 7, 2010 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  6. JFS

    You know folks what gets me out of all of this mess is JUST WHAT DO THE VOTERS OF THESE"RED" STATES WANT ???? These are the very same folks that just 8 weeks ago were complaining about the US Government getting involved with EVERTHING. These states, which are the homes of the very most Conservative Groups, screamed and accused... SOCIALISM. Now, they are demanding that the Feds get more involved...they now claim that the Govrnment hasn't done ENOUGH ??? You cannot have it both ways ....just what will it take to make these folks happy ???? Years ago there would have been volunteers from all of the country to come together and start the clean-up.....the finger pointing was not as important as fixing the mess. Where's all the youth and young church groups ??? If they are helping in the Gulf the USA is not getting those stories......only the political implication crap. Frankly, it is time that WE THE PEOPLE get involved and try to correct the mess. After all it is our Country, not BP's or the Federal Government's.

    June 7, 2010 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  7. Moderate

    How's that drill baby drill , hopey, changey thingy working out for ya Palin

    Ya, we told you it wouldn't. We knew because we knew who was in charge and that isn't our government. Private industry can care less about public safty and the oil would be sold on the open markets, which means profits only. Not nation energy independance.

    You tea baggers are as misguided as you are stupid. The dumb leading the dumb

    June 7, 2010 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  8. About TIME

    Are they finally taking notice of the plight. Too busy worried about their agenda and campaigning to respond to this crisis, or they don't have a clue what to do other than place a moritorium on drilling and virtually put most people here out of a job. Stupid move.

    June 7, 2010 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  9. Concerned Canadian

    I think its very important that the US government gets an independent look at the leak site. We only have BP's word for what is happening down there. There are reports that people saw oil explosions and fresh oil leaks from the ocean floor on the ROV cams during the top kill operation – suggesting that the well casing may have , at least partially, disintegrated. This could be far worse than they are letting on.

    June 7, 2010 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  10. Westside

    I know I know it's President Obama's Fault!!! Yeah right

    June 7, 2010 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  11. Dano

    I hope that even the most ardent "drill baby drill" advocates can now see that the damage caused by this spill is proof that the cost is too high to continue offshore drilling, or do you believe that cheap gas for your gas guzzler is worth the livelihoods of the people who make their living on the water or the destruction of the Gulf Coast environment?

    June 7, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |

    Quite a tacky display that dis-honors America's fallen heros.

    June 7, 2010 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  13. Former Republican, now an Independent

    It is an insulting irony that all of the "Drill Baby Drill" fanatics of the last election are now trying to blame President Obama for their problems. These people have no solutions to America's problems, yet are so desperate to regain control of Washington that they continually hold their political agenda in higher regard than representing the people of this country.

    June 7, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  14. Bob of Lompoc

    Does everyone get it now? It is unfortunate, but this disaster is the logical result of tampering with Mother Earth for how these many years. Eventually, a mistake was made that cannot be repaired in time to cause, it appears, an entire section of the U.S. A. to suffer. Uprooting, moving, human cleansing if you will, may result. The place may look like Mars before this comes to an end, if it ever does. Americans: Learn from this. Time to change. This is THE turning point. End the petro based society. Change.

    June 7, 2010 10:52 am at 10:52 am |