May 26th, 2010
09:08 PM ET
13 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. Nate

    Well at least he said he wasn't being partisan. He was just blaming everyone else... I wish they would all stop playing politics and focus on the ongoing problem or at least communicate about the problem. There will be a time where all parties can engage in playing the blame game... now is not that time.

    May 27, 2010 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  2. lawrence

    Stop the blame games. America must up it's check and balence standars on all levels of state and national levels.
    We show weakness when we face problems demanding, all forces come together, to right a wrong.
    Blame Obama, sells news and paints a poor reality of America,s best.
    All gulf states, should have state plain to deal with, any oil spills, ten years ago.
    I pray God, saves the creatures and marsh land damages caused. By this spill.
    There are other traps we have set for ourselves, may we take the time and knowledge, to prevent the next, blame game waiting.

    May 27, 2010 03:48 am at 3:48 am |
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