Lawmakers Attack Plans Oil Companies Had in Place To Deal With a Spill

"Five oil giants. Five plans for coping with an oil spill, all written by the same tiny Texas subcontractor.

The government-mandated plans all came under attack at a congressional hearing Tuesday: Three of them listed the phone number for the same University of Miami marine science expert, Peter Lutz, who died in 2005. Four talked about the need to protect walruses, which, as Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) dryly noted, 'have not called the Gulf of Mexico home for 3 million years.' The plans also mentioned protecting sea lions and seals, which aren't found in the gulf, either.

The five oil companies submitted these plans -- each more than 500 pages long and each relying on the same reassuring language -- as part of their applications for permits to drill deepwater wells in the gulf. The firms assured the government that they could handle oil spills much larger than the one now threatening the region's environment and economy. And each time, the Minerals Management Service approved the plan and gave the go-ahead for drilling."

Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin report for the Washington Post June 16, 2010.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010