Who Was In Charge?


More news from Houston as the agencies in charge of regulating the Deepwater Horizon and responding to the disaster grill industry officials about what happened. So far, they seem to have spared their government colleagues any similar treatment.

Paying attention today is the Los Angeles Times, which reports that: “Since the hearings began in May, three BP officials with intimate knowledge of events leading up to the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig have declined to testify before a joint Coast Guard and Interior Department panel, which convened again Wednesday. One repeatedly cited a medical excuse and two invoked their constitutional right not to produce testimony that could incriminate themselves.”

The paper also noted that investigators seem to be losing patience with the testimony of high-ranking executives. In particular, they continue to ask “who was in charge?” – which is of course a multi-billion-dollar question.

Meanwhile, far away in Washington, the presidential commission – the one Congress refused to grant subpoena power – was making the leap into questioning a former government official. The L.A. Times also reports that “… S. Elizabeth Birnbaum, the former head of the now-defunct Minerals Management Service, which oversaw drilling in federal waters, told a presidential investigative commission that she had ‘deep regret’ for the disaster and acknowledged that her agency’s spill response plans had been ‘woefully lacking.'”

The article link is here: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-oil-spill-hearings-20100826,0,2159269.story

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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