Senate Indicts

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Shocking Indictment of Oil Majors

Edward J. Markey summed up to the US Congress his views of an industry that for too long has been under investing in Safety. The facts and the figures that Congressman Markey uncovered should ring alarm bells. Safety should be the oil industry's number one priority, but yet again we see the profit before safety ethos. Here in the UK as the infrastructure exceeds the working life span for which it was designed, we should be more vigilant and continue to pressurise bad operators who neglect their duties and responsibilities.

Statement of Chairman Edward J. Markey (D‑MA)

Hearing; Drilling Down on America's Energy Future, Safety Security and Clean Energy.

Subcommittee on Energy and Environment

House Committee on Energy and Commerce, June 15, 2010.

For years, the oil industry swore this could never happen. We were told that technology had advanced, that offshore drilling was safe.

BP said they didn't think the rig would sink. It did.

They said they could handle an Exxon Valdez‑sized spill every day. They couldn't.

BP said the spill was 1,000 barrels per day. It wasn't. And they knew it.

Now the other oil companies here today will contend that this was an isolated incident. They will say a similar disaster could never happen to them.

And yet it is this kind of 'Blind Faith' ‑ which is ironically the name of an actual rig in the Gulf ‑ that has led to this kind of disaster.

In preparation for this hearing, the committee reviewed the oil spill safety response plans for all of the companies here today.

What we found was that these five companies have response plans that are virtually identical. The plans cite identical response capabilities and tout identical ineffective equipment; in some cases they use the exact same words.

We found that all of these companies, not just BP, made the exact same assurances. The covers of the response plans are different colours, but the content is ninety percent identical.

Like BP, three other companies include references to protecting walruses, which have not called the Gulf of Mexico home for 3 million years.

Two other plans are such dead ringers for BP's that they list a phone number for the same long‑dead expert.

The American people deserve oil safety plans that are Ironclad. Not Boilerplate.

We now know the oil industry and the government agency tasked with regulating them determined that there was a zero chance that this kind of undersea disaster could ever happen.

When you believe that there is zero chance of a disaster happening, you do zero planning. And the oil industry has invested nearly zero time and money into developing safety and response efforts.

The oil companies before us today amassed nearly $289 billion dollars in profits over the last three years. They spent $39 billion to explore for new oil and gas. Yet the average investment in research and development for safety, accident prevention, and spill response was a paltry $20 million per year.

The oil companies may think its fine to produce carbon copies of their safety plans, but the American people expect and deserve more. It is time to expect more from the oil industry. And it STARTS TODAY.

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