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tv   Tonight From Washington  CSPAN  June 16, 2010 8:00pm-11:00pm EDT

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backed, according to the congressional quarterly and other media reports, a higher gas tax. the money would be earmarked for building more highways, thus inducing more driving and more gasoline consumption. . b.p. has subsidized from biofuels. lobbying records show the company backing solar subsidies including federal funding for solar research. the u.s. export-import bank, a federal agency, is currently financing a b.p. solar energy project in argentina.
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export-import has also put up taxpayer cash to finance construction of the 1,094 mile pipeline carrying oil from the caspian sea, again profitting b.p. lobbying records also show b.p. lobbying on obama's stimulus bill and bush's wall street bailout. you can get the oil joint was in the league with the cato institute. continuing to read the article, b.p. has more democratic lobbyists than republicans. let me read that again. b.p. has more democratic lobbyists than republicans. it employs a group and a k
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street, a former top aide to walter mondale. former executive director of the democratic caucus and bill clinton's interior department and whose father was a congressman and former staffers, but there is no truth tore democratic betrayals of the oil company as an arm of the g.o.p. reading the last paragraph. two patterns have emerged during obama's presidency. one, big business increasingly seeks profits through big government and two, obama pains opponents of his intervention as
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industry shields. b.p. is just the latest example of this slight of hand. once the government pet, b.p. -- so i would like yield time to my friend and ask that makes sense now that you know the full story and explains why the president was so slow to get after british petroleum, i yield. mr. carter: thank you for yielding. and i thank my friend from texas for yielding and let me say there is a real eye opener. i knew from seeing some of the things that b.p.'s claiming -- ads on television and other places and i do remember reading the "national journal,"
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activities on behalf of climate change. but when you read this to me -- and i'm going to bring this up, but i have a question i wanted to ask because now you have talked about the difference between what we talked about, which was global warming and climate change. when i went to school back in the 1960's, i remember specifically a day when we and a bunch of buddies went out to play a round of golf. it was 89 or 90 degrees. we were in shorts and started playing a round of golf. before we got through with nine holes, a dust storm came up and we could hardly see the balls and hardly height them. then it began to rain and rained mud for about an hour through
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the dust storm. and the as the dust seemed to blow away, the temperature began to drop. and by the time we got to the clubhouse, the temperature was 20 degrees. so we had had a climate change from 90 to 20 in a 10-hour period, including a dust storm and rain and we know that climate change is george w. bush's fault. how do you do that, because that certainly was the most spectacular climate change i have ever seen in my life. but we all know in texas we have those climate changes all year long. is that the republicans' fault? god, where was george bush in 1964 s&p i think attending high
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school. what do you think, mr. gohmert. mr. gohmert: former george w. bush must have had an awful lot of activity to have that kind of effect on global warming back then. i find it interesting because i know my friend recalls seeing the articles as i did. in fact, i recall in college being told that we we were probably at the very beginning, some said we were at the early stages of a new ice age that would end the world and all people in the world with ice. well, i just didn't believe it, because as a christian, the bible doesn't teach with the world ending with an ice age. i knew that couldn't be right but people are saying, this is
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the beginning of an ice age. global cooling and ultimately going to have the whole planet frozen solid and who knows what forms will emerge after the ice age. i remember the discussions and discussing with classmates and things and i just could not buy back in the 1970's that we were at the beginning of a new ice age. so i come into this thing a bit skeptical and as i said many times, there is an addage here in washington, no matter how cynical you get, there isn't enough to catch up. and this is the kind of thing that makes you see that. it creates too much sin sism. mr. carter: if the gentleman would yield. we enhance that quite a bit by the article that you just read concerning the relationship
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between the obama administration, the democratic party and british petroleum prior to the leak, the massive disaster in the gulf. so, you know, you have to be a c ynic when you see who i am going to kick out there and we know who's blank was going to get kicked, british petroleum, as if they were the evil empire, when you realize that they were partners on the same piece of legislation that you talked about for at least 1/3 to almost 1/2 of the speech that the
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president made to the american people. the solution of the oil flowing into the gulf is not bringing in in ships that volunteered. it's not asking american-flagged ships. no, the solution to the oil spill is cap and trade, cap and tax. let's see if we can't come up with a whole new tax scheme. let's see if we can't drive up the cost of energy for their homes and businesses and can't put the american farmer out of business. when you talk to the american farmer about cap and tax and he will tell you that the food and fiber he produces and energy it takes to run his farm equipment is all going to be destroyed by the scheme to make money another way with cap and tax program. and well, i mean, look at how
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much the former vice president of the united states, al gore, has made like in the european union. i yield back. mr. gohmert: i'm going to mention the former vice president gore, he has a global warming problem of his own now, so i'll leave reference to him out of it entirely. apparently his planet is warming. but it is interesting, too, when i heard the president talking previously about this cozy relationship between regulators and the big oil, here it is back again to the cynicism and all those days as a judge, you know,
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it hit me. and i asked my office to check and sure enough, they found a press release from the department of interior dated june 18, 2009. and i'm glad my friend was enlightened as i was to find out just how cozy british petroleum and the white house and the global warming advocates here on capitol hill and at the white house have been. there is apparently a very cozy relationship, which obviously, made it difficult for him to condemn b.p. because they are the oil company that was jumping out there saying we support this global warming stuff. well, let me read you this press release. it's from the department of the interior. it says department of interior press release, dated june 18,
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2009. and the headline is, secretary salazar names sylvia bacca assistant secretary of minerals and management. and then it has the city washington, d.c., --, ken salazar named sylvia bacca a private sector manager in energy and environmental policy and programs as deputy assistant secretary for land and minerals management. the appointment does not require senate con firmation. because if it did, then they would have been doing what they should have done before. back to the press release, quote, sylvia brings more than two decades of management experience being with natural
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resource and environmental stewardship, environmental stewardship, issues in both the public and private sectors and at all levels of government. secretary salazar said. sylvia understands the value of partnerships and the dynamics of consensus building on difficult issues and her professionalism and detailed knowledge of interior's land and energy responsibilities will make her a valuable member of our leadership team, unquote. still continuing with the press release from interior, bacca who is currently general manager for social investment programs and strategic partnerships at something called b.p. america inc in houston has held several
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management, focusing on environmental organizations and developing safety and emergency response programs and working on climate change through diversity and sustainability objectives. as director of global health, safety, environment and emergency response for b.p.'s shipping limited in london, bacca led a worldwide team to proactive initiatives. she oversaw health safety and environmental outcomes for an $8 billion ship building program resulting in the youngest, greenest and most technically advanced fleet in the world. the project has received numerous awards for its safety and environmental advancements. as vice president for health, safety and environment, b.p.
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north america in los angeles, bacca served as policy adviser on environmental initiatives such as climate change, biodiversity, sustainable development, and water programs. she represented climate change program before congressional committees and served as a board member on the california climate action registry, national resources council of america, and university of colorado, natural resources school of law. she developed collaborative relationships with regulators and other stake holders on environmental, statutory and regulatory issues. . baca serbed -- serbed as the assistant secretary for land and
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minerals management at the department of interior where she was the principle policy adviser to the secretary of the interior for environmentally responsible stewardship of public lands and resources. she was responsible for the development of national policy and management direction of the bureau of land management, minerals management service and office of service mining reclamation and enforcement. among her achievements, she formulated consensus-based federal land and resource management policies and facilitated policy resolution for public land and mineral disputes with convening interest groups. she earlier served as the deputy assistant secretary for a land and man rals management and was the acting director of the bureau of land management. i'm going to stop reading here because what with brought her to my attention for the first time
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i heard heard her name was when -- ever heard her name was when the inspector general who investigated a few years ago how in the world we ended up on our offshore leases, having the price control adjustment language pulled out, 1998, 1999, he mentioned that ms. baca was probably principley in the best position to talk about why it was pulled out. from the hearing it certainly appeared that they were informed, we always put this price adjustment language in there. and for some reason there were two people, ms. baca and another, that were involved apparently in seeing that it was pulled out. and it has cost this country's federal treasury billions of
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dollars now that has gone to those who signed those leases in which she or somebody she knew about was pulling the language out regarding the price adjustment. when i asked the inspector general what she said about this, when he had questioned her, he said he never questioned her because she left government service at the end of the clinton administration and he couldn't talk to her now that she was in private business and in the private sector. i couldn't believe that he wasn't at least -- he wouldn't at least give her a call. and so, anyway, it turns out that cozy relationship that the president talked about is very real. it was present in the clinton administration, it left during the bush administration, but came back in june of 2009 as their own press release from the department of interior indicates. so i yield to my friend.
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mr. carter: i want to thank you for yielding. i want to congratulate my colleague for doing some mighty interesting research. and it's good that we laid this kind of research out before this house and before the american public so that, you know, one of the things people get very concerned about up here is who -- who's shooting straight. and, you know, as far as she's concerned, it sure looks like right now that this administration decided to put their money on the wrong horse. and when you start talking about minerals management, that's starting to ring a bell with the american people. because our interesting father and son inspection team that you talked about on the floor of this house, isn't that part of
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minerals management? i yield back to my colleague. mr. gohmert: it certainly is. it's part of minerals management service. and i have to say, it was a hunch when i heard president obama talking about the cozy relationship between big oil and the regulators, it just hit me, and i sent a message to my staff and said, find out where those two people are who the inspector general said were largely responsible or likely responsible for the price judgment language being pulled out that -- adjustment language being pulled out that cost our country billions of dollars. they came back and said, we've got a press release that's talking about one of them. and this is the press release that i just have read from.
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so, it's interesting, there is a cozy relationship between this administration and it goes beyond this and i'm deeply troubled, you know, i knoo whether you're in congress but especially president of the united states, we rely so much on our staffs and those people around us to help us get information and we often depend on what they give us and that's why i like to see it in print, you know, but the president said in his speech last night, we're running out of places to drill. well, yes, because if you go back a year and a half ago, you'll find the same secretary salazar took checks that the government had already received at the end of 2008 for leases in the middle of the united states
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area and returned the checks and said it was his decision and this administration's decision, that they were not going to allow those leases to go forward that were let at the midnight hour as the bush administration was leaving. that was grossly unfair to what occurred because the information that some of our folks in natural resources have found was that actually that was a seven-year process. he called it a midnight hour, that's when the checks came in. but no company is just going to rush in and say, here's a check, i don't know what that land looks like, what the like. they've got to do some testing, see what they think they might want to offer in the way of a bid, so that was a long seven-year process and it was terminated. so when the president says, we're not going to -- we're not
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going to run out of places to drill. well, yeah, i guess so, when you keep declaring all these areas offlimits, onshore, in the shallow gulf, in the shallow ocean, all of these shallow areas and the inland areas. i mean, people are not aware but every time they declare a wilderness area, they put that land off limits to drilling. when they declare a wilderness area like this body has and it's on the mexico-arizona border, that means there's no border patrol cars or helicopters or anything that can be on the ground in that area in the wilderness area. so there's probably not a month that goes by that we don't declare more and more land unavailable for any mineral production. i yield to my friend. mr. carter: and that comment about the no vehicles also prevents those in charge of enforcing our border from following the drug dealers as
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they take their caravans of bad products across the border and into our wilderness area. that is a serious situation. mr. gohmert: it certainly is. and the people that are coming into the country illegally, obviously they're not worried about what the laws and wilderness area are. they can bring mechanical things and let them work there, but the border patrol can't pursue them. there are areas that are like roadways because of all the illegals coming through these wilderness areas. i want to mention one other thing. i know our president has said he's been doing everything from day one, he's been in control, he's been in charge and we're doing absolutely everything we can, but then we find out many weeks after this explosion that actually the netherlands and other countries have offered their ships, their expertise, to come help us.
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the netherlands, probably the best nation in the world for building dikes, building sand barriers and things, they volunteered to come over here. the problem is, that would violate a union-pushed law back in the 1920's, i believe in the 1920's is when it came, it says, if it's not an american ship, it can't operate and do the things that the dutch were willing to do for us. and i'm sure the president is just a victim of whoever put that information in his teleprompter. but the fact is, everything is not -- has not been done and talking -- we had a hearing where we had coast guard people and the people from louisiana had made clear, they'd been trying to do things since it started and they keep being hampered by this
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administratton's giving b.p. the responsibility to make all decisions. well that didn't make a lot of sense until you read this article and find out just how cozy that relationship has been between b.p. and the majority leaders in the senate and the congress and at the white house. but, since -- i know the president believes, i'm sure he wouldn't have said it, believes he's doing everything correct, actually presidents can suspend the jones act. i know it was mentioned in the preceding hour by my friend from houston area, but just bringing the fact home, and give some specific information, katrina hit -- hurricane katrina hit the coast of louisiana on august 29, 2005. two days later, on september 1,
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2005, president bush suspended the jones act so that foreign ships could come in and assist in the hurricane cleanup. and as i understand it, i'd heard that they were very good help. they came in immediately and so we have a track record, there are foreign countries that can come in and help us. and president bush continued the suspension until september 19, 2005. so 19 days was enough to allow those ships to come in and the foreign equipment to come in and help us clean up the disaster areas there on the coast in 2005. now, the process requires signoff from the customs and border protection from the department of energy and the maritime administration, but that can be done on an expedited basis and can be done all within one day and you could in fact
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give a call, if you're the president of the united states, you could give a call to customs and border protect, d.o.e., maritime administration and say, i want this done. and if you're not going to do it, i'm going to get somebody in your job that will get it done, do it. and then get it for final signature to me, i'll be finished in the ninth hole on this golf course at such and such a time. get it to me before i start the 10th tee and he can jump out of the cart, sign that jones act suspension, get back and be on the tenth tee in time to not even be interrupt -- 10th tee in time to not even be interrupted from a round of golf. this could have been done within a few days, just like katrina hit on august 29, just think about this. as incompetent as this administration has repeatedly said the bush administration was, just think about if an
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incompetent administration as totally worthless and incompetent as the bush administration was could get the jones act suspended within three days of katrina hitting, just think what these guys could have done. since they're so much more competent and qualified, think of how much quicker they could have done it since it took the bush administration three days. mr. carter: if the gentleman would yield a moment. mr. gohmert: certainly. mr. carter: john mica from florida was with us earlier tonight. he gain of us an interesting revelation -- he gave us an interesting revelation. there is an american flag ship firm with cleanup capabilities that has informed our government they stand ready and willing if they are asked to go start helping clean up this act and the jones act has nothing to do with this. these are american flag ships and they are still waiting for a
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response from the white house. and, you know, waiving the jones act, all you have to do is say, come on, boys, get in there and start cleaning up. my lord. if they know how, if they got the equipment, why don't we have anybody on the face of this globe that's willing to do it out there in the gulf cleaning that water up? so, it really -- it is almost comical, with all the criticism of the bush administration over katrina and rita and some of the hurricanes, natural disasters that occurred, this manmade disaster has had this administration's hands hog tied for two months. . mr. gohmert: it makes most of us that b.p. that with all the talk
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and senator kerry and global warming bill and the bill they were trying to get done. it makes it so outrageous that they got sloppy. lots of safety problems. and this thing happens, because it deficient states not just -- the worst tragedy is the loss of life and there are 17 others that were severely hurt and our thoughts and prayers go out to them and i know my friend says that it's almost comical. and you know what a personal loss of life and me including, losing a brother and cousin's funeral i attended yesterday and nothing like that kind of heart
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ache. but then the next tragedy is what's being done to this country, what's being done for us to be energy independent and be dependent on countries that don't like us and who are our enemies. there are tragedies. most tragic the loss of life, injuries and what they have done to our future is also really devastating and we have got to take a step forward. and our friend from the navy made it clear, you got to take charge. people are looking at you. i know when i was in the army, it made an impression on me when a superior commissioned officer got in my face and said, captain , no decision is a decision and
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that's exactly right. no decision for day after day after day after day was a decision not to move forward, not to embarrass british petroleum because they were helpful on the global warming bills and this administration came straight from b.p. and helped the clinton administration and made billions of dollars at the cost of the federal treasury, back then the clinton administration. all that cozyness that president obama talked about, we are seeing it here. and that's understandable and didn't want to be too harsh until the country gave him the close ally. and i appreciate my friend's assistance. but i did want to change gears
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here and talk a few minutes about something very close to my heart and i know my friend eye heart and he mentioned the word, my lord and you and i believe in the same lord, but the book that we're pointed to discusses israel. our friend and our ally israel. and it continues to grieve me much to see the way this administration continues to snub israel. this episode with flotilla that was an effort to force israel's hand. anything that can be used to blow up more israelis into the
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gaza strip, they made it very clear, that was very predictable because when you study the course of human history and government's history, you know that when the strongest ally of a small country shows the world that there is space between us and our smaller ally, it's going to induce many times their enemies to make a move. entirely predictable. you didn't see a flotilla move towards israel during the bush administration. they knew there was no space between israel and this country under president bush. they see a lot of space. and it is dangerous and i would just -- mr. speaker, i would
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hope and pray and plead that this would stop. i have a letter that we are getting signatures on asking the speaker and majority leader reid to please invite prime minister netanyahu to stand at that podium and speak to a joint session of congress saying iran and all of israel's enemies will see both sides of the aisle standing and applauding the prime minister, the leader, israel, so they know -- there may be some games being played around here in washington, but we will defend our friend and ally in israel. we have shared belief systems in the value of human lives. both israel and the united states believe women, for example, are not property, that they're not someone to have honor killings of if you think
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they have embarrassed your family. they are a country that does not believe that because you practice some other religion, it's ok to kill you. it's a country that believes that i may disagree with what your say but i'll defend your right to say it. i know we are moving away from that. and i know there are some country who say you disagree with me, i'm not not only going to defend your right to say it, but get your job taken away from you, i want to take away your assets, your living, embarrass your family. that's some of the stuff we have had. but that's the minority in this country. and israel has the same belief system in the value of human life that we do and we should
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embrace that relationship and make sure that the world knows that that relationship is in tact and that, if necessary, to defend itself. i have this resolution and we're circulating that and we are getting lots of signatures from members of congress. i'm hoping more and more members of congress will be signing on so we can get this bill to the floor and the speaker will feel pressured by people's reaction pushing on their representatives and their senators to get them to come on board and sign so we can let the world know that these are our friends and we aren't going to foresake them and like a big, strong brother going after the enemy of his little brother, if you attack my little brother, you have to go
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through me. you will pay if you hurt my little brother. iran needs to know that in -- and ahmadinejad knows and he honestly does believe that he could use nuclear weapons to hasten the end, to rule and apparently even believes jesus would come and fight and put them in charge of the caliphate. but he needs to find out if he hurts our friend, not only isn't going to be a caliphate there will not be an iran. you don't go start anything with israel. but in the meantime, while israeli leaders are being snubbed by the administration here, the centrifuges are spinning and the iaea says they have enough nuclear material for two nukes.
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if you read ahmadinejad's quotes, he makes it clear, it's not just israel. and some of his quotes, he said, here at the conference in tehran the world without zionism, ahmadinejad stated, god willing, with the force of god behind it, we should experience a world without the united states and without zionism. "new york times" also said -- quoted him as saying this occupying regime, israel, is to be wiped off the map. it's one thing when some little punk with no republicry says i'm going to kick your rear end, it's another when a nation has
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enough enriched uranium to make two nuclear weapons and says i'm going to wipe you off the face of the earth and no longer exist when we're done and continues to make nuclear material to do that. i really thought that this nation would be a bit like the roman empire, not that we are an empire that's why they speak french in france and german in germany and japanese in japan. we fight for liberty wherever it needs to be fought for. but this is a nation that are all of a sudden, after 9/11, we realized we may not take decades and decades and decades to meet our end because we know every nation eventually ends.
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i wouldn't stay in congress unless i knew we could turn things around and go for a couple00 years. but -- hundred years, but if he gets a nuclear weapon and this is common knowledge, but he takes a nuclear weapon on a boat into new york harbor, houston, new orleans and it takes out a tremendous amount of our energy capabilities, chicago, new york, big financial hubs, l.a., washington, wouldn't take but a handful of nukes and we're in big trouble. we may not be able to respond. we got to take this stuff seriously. some have referred to israel as the minner's committee for the world and when they're under assault, the world is going to be next, that may be true. but we have got to take it
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seriously and got to support our friend israel. mr. carter: first thing i would say amen to everything you have said and i thank you for saying it. you know, it's become a strange world when our closest ally in the middle east, israel, sends its prime minister over here and taken in through the back doors of the service entrance of the white house and told no photo ops and he is basically slighted by the leader of the free world and then passed forward to just a couple of weeks ago when the leader of the palestinian movement comes in here and we see photo ops, meetings and a big chunk of money headed to the palestinians promised by the
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president of the united states. it's embarrassing how much of a change of policy we have towards our only or our longest surviving ally in the middle east. and i was in new york the day before yesterday and one of the people i met yesterday, have you thought about the fact is how many americans would have to be stationed somewhere in the middle east to try to keep that caldron from exploding all over the world? and we don't think -- remember what the prime minister of england told us, the reason you have to respond is because it's your turn. you're the only real superpower left in the world. that is the responsibility we are taking and we know about it. but we have those who have stood
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by our side and worked to make things go, like israel, like great britain. why would a change of administration be so insulting to an ally like israel? i was struck dumb by the whole thing and i think you have, too. and you have done an excellent job about describing the possible consequences of the position we seem to be taking in this administration against israel. and i think all americans, of whatever heritage, should be seriously concerned about what's going on. i thank you for allowing me to participate in this evening. and i yield back my time to you. . mr. gohmert: i appreciate my friend, judge carter, and i appreciate your insights in this discussion. i would like to fippish tonight by reading a couple of things --
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finish tonight by read allege couple of things of his -- reading a couple of things of historical nature. i know our president has said we're not a cliftian nation, i understand that -- christian nation, i understand that. i'm not going to debate that. but i know our history, i know where we came from. and i know that people in the united states are really victims of who it was that taught them and therefore only know so much as what they're taught. so i'd like to read this proclamation from george washington, october 3, 1789, this was during his first year as president of the new united states. he said, and these are washington's words, his proclamation, whereas it is the duty of our nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty god, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits and to employ his protection.
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we may then unite the most humbly offering our prayers to the great lord and nations and besiege him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all to render a national government a blessing to all the people, to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue. and in fact he mentioned in 1790 , in less letter to the hebrew congregation in new rhode island, the children and the stock of abraham continue to merit and enjoy the goodwill of the other inhabitants. everyone should sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there should be none to make him afraid. may the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness on our path and make us all useful here and make us
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everlastingly happy. this is a book that was put together by presidents, inspiring faith from leaders of the past. these are direct quotes. just finish with a couple of things from lincoln. this is from august 12, 1861, the first year that abraham lincoln was president, this is his own words, whereas when our own beloved country once by the blessings of god united, prosperous and happy is now afflicted with faction and civil war it is pe kuhl yarly fit for us to recognize the hand of god in this terrible visitation and in remembrance of our own faults and crimes as a nation and as individuals, to humble ourselves before him and to pray for his
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mercy, to pray that we may be spared further punishment, the most justly deserved, the boom of civil and religious liberty may be restored. and this in closing, abraham lincoln's own words, his first inaugural, march 4, 1861, intelligence, patriotism, christianity and a firm reliance on him who has never yet forsaken this land, are still competent to adjust in the best way, all our present difficulties. it was true then. it's true now. and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: is there a motion to adjourn? mr. gohmert: yes. mr. speaker, at this time i do hereby move that we now adjourn. the speaker pro tempore: the question is on the motion to adjourn. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes have it. the motion is agreed to.
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accordingly the house stands adjourned until 10:00 >> the house continuing work on a bill for a fund to be used for loans for small businesses. also today, several noncontroversial bills, including one marking the anniversary of the naacp. more house coverage here on c- span. up next, president obama and bp executives discussed their meeting at the white house today. that is followed by an update on the government response to the clove oil spill in the white house briefing. and then a senate hearing looks at the oil spill impact on the local economy. president obama met with bp executives today at the white house. bp agreed to put $20 billion into an escrow account to pay
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damages resulting from the gulf of mexico oil spill. we know here from them following the meeting. this is 15 minutes. >> good afternoon, everybody. i just concluded a constructive meeting with bp is chairman, carl-henric svanberg, and i raised two issues at the meeting. first was the containment of the oil that is still spewing into the gulf. as i mentioned last night, my administration has directed bp to mobilize additional equipment and technology, and in the coming days and weeks these efforts should capture up to 90% of the oil that is leaking out of the well. now that is not good enough. we will continue to press bp and draw on our best minds and resources to capture the rest of the oil until the company finishes drilling a relief well
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later in the summer that is expected to stop the leak completely. the second topic revolved around the issue of claims. as i travel around the gulf, i heard growing frustration over the pace at which claims had been paid. and i also heard concerns about whether bp will make resources available to cover legitimate claims resulting from this disaster. so this discussion today was essential. currently under federal law, there is a 75 million-dollar cap on how much oil companies could under certain circumstances be required to pay for economic damages resulting from a spill such as this. that amount obviously would be insufficient. that is why i am pleased to announce that bp has agreed to set aside $20 billion to pay claims for damages resulting from this bill.
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this $20 billion will provide substantial assurance that the claims people and businesses have will be honored. it is also important to emphasize this is not a cap. the people of the gulf have my commitment that bp will meet its obligations to them. bp has publicly pledged to make good on the complaints that it owes to the people in the gulf, and so the agreement we reached sets up a financial and legal framework to do it. another important element is that this $20 billion fund will not be controlled by either bp or by the government. it would be put into an escrow account, administered by an impartial, independent third party. so if you or your business has suffered an economic loss as a result of this bill, you will be eligible to file a claim for part of this $20 billion. fund does not supersede either
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individuals rights or states rights to present claims in court. bp will also kenyan -- continue to be liable for the environmental disaster it has caused, and we're going to continue to work to make sure that they address it. additionally, bp voluntarily agreed to establish a $100 million fund to compensate unemployed oil rig workers affected by the closure of the deepwater rigs. we have mutually agreed that ken feinberg will run the independent claims process we are putting into place. and there will be a three-person panel to a duty at claims that are turned down. every effort will be made to expedite these claims. ken has long experience in such matters, including running the fund that compensated the victims of 9/113 and i am confident that he will ensure that claims are in ministers as quickly, as fairly, and as transparently as possible. bp's liability for these -- for
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this spill are significant and they acknowledge that fact. we will continue to hold bp and all other responsible parties accountable. and i am absolutely confident bp will be able to meet its obligation to the gulf coast and to the american people. bp is a strong and viable company and is in all of our interests that it remain so. so what this is about is accountability. at the end of the day, that is what every american wants and expects. the structure we are establishing today is an important step toward making the people of the gulf coast whole again, but it is not going to turn things around overnight. i want all americans to know that will continue to fight each and every day until the oil is contained, until businesses recover, and until the gulf coast bounces back from this tragedy as i know it well. one last point. during a private conversation with chairman svanberg, i
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emphasized to him that for the families that i met with down in the gulf, for the small business owners, for the fishermen, for the shrimpers, this is not just a matter of dollars and cents. a lot of these folks do not have a cushion. there were coming off rita and katrina, coming off the worst economy that this country has seen since the great depression, and this season was going to be the season where they were going to be bouncing back. not only that, but this happened from their perspective that the worst possible time, because they are making their entire income for the year in the three or four months during which folks can take their boats out, people are coming down for
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tourism. and so i emphasized to the chairman that when he is talking to shareholders, when he is in meetings in his board room, to keep in mind those individuals -- that they are desperate, that some of them, if they do not get relief quickly, may lose businesses that have been in their families for two or three generations. and the chairman assured me that he would keep them in mind. that is going to be the standard by which i measure bp's responsiveness. i think today was a good start. and it should provide some assurance to some of the small business owners and individuals down in the gulf who i was visiting with that bp is going to meet its responsibilities. but i indicated to the chairman that, throughout this process, as we worked to make sure that the gulf is made whole once
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again, that the standard i am going to be applying is whether or not those individuals i met with, their family members, those communities that are vulnerable, whether they are uppermost in the minds of all concerned. that is to we're doing this work for. all right? thank you very much, everybody. >> ladies and gentlemen, we have had a very constructive meeting today with the president. we appreciate his deep concern
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and we appreciate the deep concern that he has for the people in the region. and you can see from his speech today the frustration. the president senses the sadness and the sorrow that we feel for this tragic accident that should never have happened. bp, we have always met our responsibilities, and we have made clear from the first moment of this tragedy that we will live up to all our legitimate responsibilities. we have agreed today with the president of framework that
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should assure the american people that we mean what we say. we will look after the people affected, and we will repair the damage to this region and to the economy. we are announcing today, as you heard from the president, but $20 billion commitment to make sure that all proper claims are handled swiftly and fairly. .
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>> we made it clear to the president that words are not enough. we understand that we will and we should be judged by our actions. what has been clear today is that the administration and our company are fully alive in our interest in closing this well, cleaning the beaches, and caring for those that are affected. finally, i would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the american people on behalf of all the employees in bp, many of whom are living on the gulf coast. i do thank you for the patients
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that you have in this difficult time. through attractions and commitments, we hope that over the long term we will regain the trust that you have in us. thanks a lot, and i will take a couple of questions. >> did bp take safety shortcuts on the deepwater horizon? >> we are going through a series of investigations, and we will do our own independent investigation, where we will scrutinize everything that we do to make sure that we understand the real results of this tragic accident, because it should not happen. i have no further comments on that. >> what were the sticking points and the points of disagreement that had to be
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resolved? >> i think it was a very constructive meeting. it is a meeting that includes many different parts, and it is important to get all the language right. the determination and ambition to get through this was clear from the beginning. i spent a fair amount of time, and i must say that he comes across -- he is frustrated, because he cares about the small people, and we care about the small people. i hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are greedy companies are do not care, but that is not the case with bp. we care about the small people. [unintelligible]
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>> after the daily briefing, white house spokesman robert gibbs was joined by admiral that allen and carol browner. they laid out the details of the agreement between bp and the government's. those who apply will have a range of options are receiving compensation.
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>> i am bringing admiral palin and carol browner in. -- admiral allen. if you have operational questions about what is going on in the gulf, carol was involved in the meetings that were had today. she and i can answer questions about that. >> was the be ordered to do this -- was bp ordered to do this, or how exactly did come together? >> we reached an agreement that they will establish an independent claims facility and an escrow account. >> is it your feeling that the company would have done this on its own? >> no.
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>> so this was essentially a white house driven agreement. they will agree to set up this facility where claims can be expeditiously reviewed and decisions made about how to proceed. that will set up an escrow account of $20 billion and also provide assets of $20 billion to back that up. >> obviously the white house and other agencies of the government have been working over the past several days. you heard the president's speech last night about -- and others in the administration speak yesterday about directing them to set up, as carol says, an escrow account that would be independently administered. >> is be he the only company paying in, and what about the other companies that may have
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had an interest in the well of the rate? are the>> bp will be working wie companies in whatever way is appropriate to secure funds. what we have is an agreement for $20 billion. it is not a floor or a ceiling, but it gives us the assurance that we can make sure that the people and small businesses that have been impacted can get their claims paid in a timely manner. sets of a process. mr. feinberg and a review panel -- that can be done in an expedited manner. if an individual is not happy at that point, they retain all of their legal rights. bp can only seek an appeal of mr. feinberg determination if the claim is in excess of $500,000, or if he certifies the
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appeal as allowable. >> is that the amount the white house thinks is enough to cover all the damage? >> we want to make sure that the erratic resources there for people to know that they could have their claims met. there are -- state and local governments may have claims. >> just to reiterate, this does not in any way limit or cap the economic damages that bp may be responsible for, or the natural resources damages. it is not a floor arquette and does not limit in any way their responsibility. -- not a floor or a cat. >> -- not a floor or a cat. >> the president spent 20 minutes or so at the beginning of these meetings for several hours, as the group was in
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discussing the details of the framework agreement. the president spent 25 minutes with the chair alone in the oval office. i think you are the president speak directly about that. the comments he made at the opening of the meeting into the chair were not directed at any one person, but directed at the entire company. it _ to the responsibilities they have as responsible party for this disaster. >> can you bring us behind-the- scenes a little bit to the meeting? it was supposed to last a short time and lasted several hours longer than it was on the schedule. can you comment on how it played out and whether the apology that was made was something you suggested that they do. >> they actually began the meeting with the president in the roosevelt room with an apology from the chairman. it was not something we asked
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for. the meeting then turn to the president laying out the concerns we had, the things we thought that were very important to be addressed. he talked about the containment that is ongoing and the fact that every time he goes down to the gulf, he visits with these individuals, small businesses who are feeling the impact and the need to get that addressed. and the best way to move forward would be through an independent process not run by the government or bp, and an escrow account to ensure adequate funds to meet the needs. again, if they are not adequate, there is not a floor and not a ceiling. they remain liable for the cleanup costs, and now what we have is this fund to honor the economic costs. >> was the dividend something that you pressed them on? >> the president has said publicly going back almost two weeks ago that he understood
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that might have legal obligations, but he did not want to be in a situation where the people on the gulf of mexico were getting their needs and claims honored with the dividends moving forward. >> what was the atmosphere of the meeting? why did it go on longer? there must have been sticking points. >> we did have to take breaks at time. there were six people representing bp, and we had six or seven in the room. there were times when each side wanted to just talk among themselves. we did take a break at one point to inform the president of the state of discussions and to seek his counsel. long time, but there were breaks for conversation among each of the parties along. >> did the president accept the
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apology? >> i assume so, yes. >> can you tell us more about the sticking points? >> i think we will be happy to get into what was agreed to. >> it cannot tell us what it was -- >> we have reached an agreement, it really important agreement for the people of the gulf of mexico. it gives the people and small business is some certainty that their claims will be handled in an expedited manner. this was a very positive step forward in what has been a very difficult situation. >> the fund for of the unemployed, was that suggested by the white house? >> we are concerned and we welcome the fact that they are making a voluntary contribution, $100 million to fund for unemployed rig workers as a result of the changes in
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the situation in the gulf of mexico. we continue to pursue some legislative fixes that would allow individuals to apply for unemployment insurance. >> one more thing on the tone of this meeting. things were being brought up, the $100 million, the $20 billion. were they pushing back? give us some color as to how they are reacting. >> people have ideas and put them forward and discussed them and decide how to proceed. the president was clear from the beginning and what we needed was some sort of independent claims process, and we needed an escrow account. we stayed focused on achieving the president's goals for the meeting. >> when was the $20 billion agreed to? >> it was agreed to today.
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>> it took a long time for this meeting to come to fruition. the president almost waited two months. going forward, do you expect to have continuing meetings at this level? >> the president will meet with whomever he needs to, whenever. admiral allen is in touch with be bbp. >> at this level, at the expect this to happen again? >> if more meetings are needed, more meetings will be had. >> the president said yesterday that if something is not working, we want to eat here about it. there are problems on the ground, we will fix them. are you confident that local authorities have the ability to communicate with the federal government if there are problems? it seems that a lot of local
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officials feel like they are having to take steps on their own instead of waiting for the federal government. >> what we did after the visit down there, and i talked to the president about this yesterday, we established specific deputies for the command post in mississippi, alabama, and florida. we put a group of coastguard folks into the emergency operations center in tallahassee. we will do the same thing in mississippi. if there is a problem, we want to put leadership closer to the states and put assets on target as soon as we can, quicker. >> following up on the $100 million. it sounds like they are being put into a different category with the limited amount of money. are they not going to be treated as well as they would have if
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they could have applied like everybody else for the $20 billion? >> there were some concerns about under the law, their ability to participate, and we wanted to make sure there were mechanisms to address their needs, so the $100 million voluntary contribution bucks bp is a significant step toward meeting their needs. >> you heard the president say more than a week ago and reiterated in his speech last night that he understands the economic impact of the deep water drilling moratorium, understanding that we do not yet know what caused the accident. because of that, the president believes it it was important to pause additional deepwater drilling. the national commission will look into the regulatory framework that we must have going forward to ensure that drilling is safe.
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we must look at the framework and report back to him as soon as they can. they do not have to wait for any set period of time. >> taxpayers are going to be paying for some portion of this. >> for the unemployment insurance portion of this, that is what we are asking congress forr some of the workers would apparently qualify under existing law and some might not. now there is an additional fund has been created. >> knowing feinberg, he will get up and moving quickly. he has to set standards, and there is a lot of bureaucracy in setting up an operation. how quickly will he actually start handing money out to people? >> people can continue to file claims. this will be a seamless
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operation. there is a claims processed today. we all realize it is not working the way we wanted to work with that is part of why we reached this agreement. >> when will they be getting in the bucket, rather than a drop in the bucket? >> i think picking him as someone who has done this before and understands the bureaucracy and the standards that have to take place. it is important to reiterate what carroll said. if you were to file a claim yesterday or today, you still fall within a 90 day window to have that claim adjudicated. that will continue to be the case. we believe this will be handed off in a seamless way. we now have additional backstops to ensure that claims are not just heard independently, but the appeals process beyond ken feinberg to up three-judge
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panel, and retaining their light under -- their right under federal law if they are unsatisfied, they cannot visit federal court. >> these are people with mortgage payments, overpayments, and families to feed. >> we are moving as expeditiously and quickly as we humanly can. >> there are claims being honored. we can get you the numbers, they are reported on a regular basis. we can get the number of claims that have been responded to. it is important, people should go into that process. it is important to understand that if the federal government adjudicates the claim, we make a onetime payment. under this, people will be able to apply over and over again as is necessary. >> if you are a fisherman in grand isle, i am not sure
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anybody knows how long the gulf is going to be closed. you do not have to extrapolate 12 or 24 months in advance and come up with the paperwork. you can file a claim now. two months from now, if there are still restrictions on fishing in certain parts of the gulf, you can refile until your made whole. that is a different process than if the federal government ran it and it is a one time deal. >> if my boat payment is due in two or three weeks, and my going to get it, or is that just out of the question? >> we think it gives the certainty of the funding as well as the independence of the third party. >> we can give you more detail, but as of this morning, there were 66,000 claims filed.
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over 81 go in dollars has been disbursed -- $81 million, and 26,000 checks cut. those are the overall numbers. >> did the people they received money -- >> right now, if you file a claim under the current system and you are dissatisfied with that claim, you have the right to go to the federal trust fund, the oil spill liability trust fund, or to go to court what this sets up is, you can file a claim. mr. feinberg will determine whether or not your claim should be paid, and how much should be paid. that moment, you can take it. two months later, you can come back and file another claim if you are still not working. they are legally bound to pay
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it. you don't like what mr. feinberg besides, you can go to a three- person panel and have that review. at the end of that panel, you could take that. he still don't like that receive your dissatisfied, you then have a choice. you can go to the federal trust fund, or you can go into court. the big thing here is that you will get a quicker answer, and you can file over and over again. >> it is important to understand the nine-day process. the three best person -- a
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three-person panel is within the 90 day process. >> can you share the details of the procedure to go back to be and save $20 billion is not enough? it did go back and say we need more money, is there a specific procedure? >> bp retains all of the liability. nothing in that has changed. there was not money available, you would go straight to bp and say i have these claims. all of the rights of the claimants have been preserved. right now, this new escrow account and claims facility will stand in place, but if for some reason there was not money in that, you have all of your rights to go right back and ask for the payment from the bp. it is important to understand that the only ones who have limited rights are bp.
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>> last night the president talked about energy legislation. pricing carbon, cap and trade, etc. will he accept a bill out of the u.s. senate that does not have this? >> you have heard the president' for 3.5 years now tak about his approach to comprehensive energy. i don't think that has been unclear. he reiterated a call last night and said that the greatest price we pay is the price of inaction. this morning, the president spoke with senator kerrey and senator lugar are, each of whom have energy legislation that the
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senate is likely to take up in the next several weeks. we announced that networknext wy we will have a discussion on moving forward. it is safe to say that the president's direction on energy is similar to the one in the carried bill, and tte president feels strongly that including upon to deal with climate is important. there are a number of proposals. that is why senator lugar and senator kerry both got calls. there have been ideas about increasing energy efficiency standards in buildings, much as carol has worked tirelessly to do with cars, light trucks, and heavy duty trucks. the president met with business executives at the white house
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last week and one of their questions was like more money is not spent on research and development. there are a lot of ways to get to this. the president will have a meeting next week here to work through that process going forward. >> in comparison to the public option, where the president supported the public option and got 90 percent of what he wanted. >> it would not be pertinent to get into a hypothetical again. going back to what he said at pittsburg, what he said in 2006 as a u.s. senator. his position on how to approach our energy policy comprehensively is fairly well known. >> what is beginning as a result
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of this agreement? are they getting any agreement that they will not be found negligent at all? it said that bp would fund the fund with u.s. assets. >> they will make payments over a four year period of $5 billion a year. they will provide assurance for those commitments by setting aside $20 billion in u.s. assets. it is like a second insurance policy. the have committed $20 billion, but we will have -- they will provide assurance by setting aside assets. as the fund grows up, grows in size, the assets would be reduced. it is just an insurance policy. >> what is bp getting out of
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this agreement? >> i think they would have a better way of reading of what they did and why they did this. i think the president's objectives in this were clear. this provides certainty in peace of mind for those in the gulf. if there was any wonder or concern that they would not be made whole from the disaster, they did not call it. i think carol mentioned this briefly, that the story that the president spoke of with the chair at the end of the meeting in the oval office, the president as the chairman when they were talking about what is happening in the gulf, and they are discussing the parameters with the board and other executives, it is the people he has met in these four trips, the people in grand isle, pensacola,
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dolphin island, who for four generations have fished on these waters to make a living, who have invested their hard earned money and their sweat in building their business. those are the people that the president has been bogus: throughout this process, and he believes that is what bp should be focused on as they are discussing this. >> is there a danger president obama is over promising when he says we will make you whole and make the gulf coast even better than it was before? people's lives have been changed, and it looks like it is going to get worse of long time before it gets better. >> the response will party has committed today through an escrow accounts that starts at $20 billion to make them whole.
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if you are a fisherman or schrager and your likelihood had been changed because your in the heart of the season where you make almost all of your income, you will be compensated for that. we have a process that provides independence from the company that caused that disaster, with the insurance -- with the assurance that the funding will be there. in terms of gulf coast restoration, the president was concerned about the region environmentally long before this disaster. whether it was man-made or natural disaster, katrina coming to mind, the wetlands and the marsh have eroded and become degraded for many, many years. this program belize we have an obligation to return that
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valuable ecosystem to a place better than it was before this accident happened. bp is liable for the environmental degradation through natural resource damage assessments. those will be assessed and the bill will be provided to bp. the basis of that will help us restore the environmental vitality of that region. >> based on what president obama said today, or we are sure that no ass-kicking was required at today's session? >> i think the president was very clear about what very clearbp was responsible for an obligated to do. we came with that in mind and left importantly with an agreement that is substantial if, providing the assurance,
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providing the independence, and providing the funding that i am sure people in the gulf went to bed wondering whether or not that was going to be possible. they will go to sleep tonight knowing there is a process in place to do this quickly, efficiently, transparently, and independently. i think they will sleep better because of it. >> was there raised voices, and was a confrontational? >> it was of focused business meeting. we came to get something done and more successful in doing what we thought was important for the people on the gulf. >> what perpetuated the frustration?
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>> the parts of the meeting i was then were asked carroll described them. and the president sat down at the beginning of the meeting, it is fair to say he outlined his viewpoint and the stories he had heard and that we have seen over the past eight weeks. the livelihood's of generations interrupted. you heard the president say a couple of times, we are talking about dolphin island, a place that was just beginning to recover after hurricane katrina. this was to be the first season where they thought the economy was getting better. they had rebuilt after watching the hurricane -- one of the reasons you take that ferry is because it is to violence now --
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two islands now. this was to be the season for tourism and fishing where the region was going to get back up on its feet. the president opened the meeting by discussing those stories. i don't think anybody from bp would walk away from the last 58 days or the meeting here not knowing that the president, all those involved in the response and recovery have been frustrated. >> were there clenched teeth moments, moments when he struck the table with his fist to show his frustration and anger? >> i think his frustration was exhibited in the stories he told, the stories he has heard from the gulf and the stories he took back to speak with the executives in the company that
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are going to make the decisions that resulted today in the knowledge that the people of the gulf will indeed be made whole. >> going to bp's financial condition, it bonds were trading at distressed levels, [unintelligible] some people were saying there is a 40% chance of default in the next five years. what was being said by the company or the white house that says the company will not default customer >> we did not discuss their financial -- what is happening in the market. we obviously have had analysts look at this situation. we believe that the company has strong assets. they have a lot of assets that they will continue to operate
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and continue to be a viable company, and they will be able to honor the claims associated with this dreadful disaster. >> have you remove the possibility of punitive damages? >> nothing was taken off the table with respect to enforcement of laws, whether it be the clean water act -- nothing has been taken off the table. nothing in terms of the justice department's work. >> as i am understand it, even if everything works optimally, 10% of the oil will still be leaking into the gulf after july. >> we hope by the end of july will have a new capping system and a new production system.
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at that point we are pretty well assured there will be minimal leakage around the wellhead. the ultimate solution is to drill the relief well, which we are looking for the first two weeks of august. based on the proposal we got last week from bp, they have come in with counterproposals that have increased the production capacity. it should have a set to 28,000 barrels a day by the end of next week. we will have to shift from the containment cap we have now and put a harder device on to get us up to 80 by the end of july. >> we are shifting from a containment device to an actual cap that will require as to literally and bold -- unbolt the flange.
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>> at this time, or any foreign flags skimmer is headed to this country? >> we have foreign flag vessels operating out there. we will not turn down any offer that we can use the equipment for. >> my understanding is that these offers were made early on. >> we have an exhaustive list and how we acted on them. >> there are foreign flag vessels operating out there. there is a difference between skimmers and skimming equipment. you guys have been focused on this for several days. i just wanted to hear what admiral allen has to say. there are foreign vessels operating as we speak in the gulf right now. they are operating outside of state waters. bp has purchased from canada,
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mexico, the netherlands, and norway. >> was there a reason that the president or anyone else in the meeting today had to pressure bp to do anything else on the containment, or are you completely satisfied with the course of action that they laid out in a letter and at the meeting? >> there has been a very significant iterative process. they have gone to extraordinary lengths to bring in the shuttle tankers that are not normally used in the gulf of mexico. these vessels are dynamically positioned so they do not move. we have given them the stress goals and they have come in and told us how they are going to do that. we need to monitor that now. >> at the beginning of the meeting after the president left the room, we did spend some time
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going through these containment plans, making sure that every single thing was being done to expedite. they walk through the different production schedules where different parts and vessels are coming from. as the admiral said, we have to remain vigilant to ensure all this is done, but in the case of getting to the order of 50,000 barrels per day, they are manufacturing a riser. there ii not one in the world that would work for this particular application, because it has never been done before. it is in the foundry being made. >> does this affectively limit be ps responsibility for any worker moratorium? >> whether those individuals would be eligible under the oil pollution act, what we wanted to do it -- that is what we had
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alrrady asked congress to let changing the unemployment compensation for disaster situations. now bp has made a commitment of $100 million to a foundation to address the needs of these workers. >> as far as the government is concerned, that settles the issue of bp's liability? >> this was the way for us to address the needs of these workers. >> who is going to administer that, and will include people [unintelligible] >> is important to understand that today we reached a very extensive framework. we covered an awful lot of issues. obviously there were some details to be further fleshed out with lawyers, etc. for example, the details about
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the foundation are still to be fleshed out. that is to focus on oil rig workers. >> during the campaign, the president made a big point of saying he would let science guide his decisions. scientists say -- is the president not following their recommendations on that? >> at the time of the accident, the president asked ken salazar to undertake a 30-day review. they reached out and talk to a lot of experts and got a lot of input. some of the people who provided input -- policy decisions were made based on those recommendations. mr. salazar made a decision to recommend a moratorium. that was a policy decision. what the experts were providing was expert advice, but not the
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policy decisions under the purview of the secretary. >> i will say this again. the president said this last night. we do not know what happened. 33 additional wells were being drilled at deep water depths. as we now know, the largest environmental disaster in our country was taking place. the president did not think it made sense to continue those drilling activities as we were dealing with this without knowing what was going on. i have said this before and i will say it again. the president has told governor generajindal and others, we cant here and trust bp to do anything, but we are going to take their word on the drilling
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in they had going on in deep water even as we had the disaster in the gulf? the president was just not willing to take that chance. we had a long discussion about it, because we understood that this was not a decision that did not come without some displacement. that was superseded by not knowing what happened and what could potentially happen if this happened again. i daresay the resources that would be necessary to deal with is happening a second time in that region would be hard to describe in words. the president believed it just was not a chance that he wanted to take. >> there is a criminal investigation going on. justice is looking at the actions of some of the parties here.
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are they looking at anything they said with respect to their own liability in this? >> there is no discussion about any activities related to the department of justice investigation. >> and they did not ask for immunity? >> there was no request for immunity. >> if we could get a flavor of the meeting, in a sense of for example, the $20 million that was set aside. did they want the pain and stretched out over more than four years? did they not want to create a fund at all? did the president threatened to use his legal authority, to go to court if necessary? can you give us some sense of this?
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>> as we said, it was a very focused, businesslike discussion. the president said what he wanted to accomplish. a group of us worked with the group from bp to make that happen. anytime there is a negotiation and discussion, there are sticking points, and they get worked through. what we have now is the product of that discussion, and it is take incredibly important agreement we have achieved for the people of the gulf of mexico. >> the reason the president had this meeting is to come out with an agreement like this. his goal has been to do what we have to do to take care of the people in the gulf that have been hurt environmentally and economically. today we came out with the assurance refunding in through an independent process that that will take place. that is what has driven his
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actions this entire time. this is a tangible and substantial achievement that goes a long way to a big part of the speech that he talked about last night. >> you said this is something bp was not going to do on its own. the president had to push. >> i think that is a push that has been happening over the past many days. you have asked them if you would have to ask them when they came to a conclusion in their mind. we have had folks looking at this for many days beyond yesterday and today. >> the general petraeus today played down the idea of a december review of progress in afghanistan, saying it, too much cannot be made of their review. can you give us a sense of the
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december review? >> there is no question that the december review is important. without having seen either the question or general petraeus' exact answer, it is not as if the review is not on going on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. again, i would be happy to look through the exact transcript. i think for some reason to believe x that reprocess would not exist until december might be what he was pushing back on. the theater commanders provide the president with written weekly updates that are quite. -- that are quite thick. there are monthly situation room meetings with the cabinet members, the president and vice
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president, and this review is ongoing in nature. >> van jones says disbursement is not disappearing. you are talking about the capturing -- >> are you talking about dispersing a liquid or disbursement of payment? >> he says dispersants push the oil down to the bottom of the ocean where it kill marine life and things of that nature. when you are talking about capturing 90% of the oil, what happens to the dispersants, the oil that has been pushed down with dispersants? >> the purpose of this person's is to separate the oil into smaller particles so they biodegrade quicker -- the purpose of dispersants.
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there is a metabolic rate for breaking down the oil. we have applied dispersants on the surface and are applying them at the source of the league. it has limited the dispersant's use on the surface because of the unknown factors. the most effective use of dispersants is at the lake side down at the bottom where they can be most affected. -- at the leak site. >> what happens to that? >> it ultimately biodegrades. dispersant's accelerate that. we know there is some toxicity with dispersants, but it is far less than the toxicity of the oil. >> how long does it take to biodegrade?
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if you have an oily pan and you go to wash it, use words some dawn in, and what happens? that is how they washed animals. your in your kitchen sink and you have oil starting to break up, and you are seeing that biodegrading process right in front of you. that is what happens. >> i don't do dishes, so i do not know. [laughter] >> i bet he is doing some dishes tonight. [laughter] >> on another subject, not to make light of this, but there is a preconception already about big oil versus average america. when the chairman of the board
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-- did you all here in when he set -- when he said, talking about the president's frustration. he said the president is concerned about the small people and we are concerned about the small people. those words rang kind of strong on television. the think it is just the wrong terminology? we are the ones who had to push this forward, and it was all on the white house side. what did they offer? when they are worried about the average american. >> as i said before, in meeting with both the chair and a group of executives as the president came in, it is the people of the gulf that the president has had in mind throughout this process.
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that is city is fighting for. again, whether it is a mom-and- pop restaurants that he visited on his trip, whether it is a shrimper or a mayor who represents constituents who earn their living on the water or through tourism something like that, those are the people that the president has had in mind throughout this entire event. >> we began in the roosevelt room, and when the chairman of the company spoke, he did begin with an apology. i think roberts point is exactly right. the president spoke about the people he met, his trip to louisiana and across alabama, mississippi, and florida. >> i just like to clarify, with regard to carry lieberman.
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>> the asset was, the principles are consistent with the principles that the president has outlined on countless occasions, dating back to the campaign and likely dating back to his service in the u.s. senate. >> last night he did not mention explicitly in terms of the legislation. >> i would focus on what the president said and has set on any number of occasions. >> with all due respect, they have to pass this thing on the hill. >> with all due respect, i understand the legislative process. >> there is a sense that the president's commission -- o mission -- >> ida not know how i can be more clear than to look at what
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he said in pittsburg. he is committed to exactly what he said in pittsburg and on callous occasions. -- on countless occasions. the climate has to be a component of a comprehensive energy plan. i think the president's -- i understand you have to write a story. i could e-mail it to you, but it would crash your computer, all the time is the president has talked about a comprehensive strategy. >> last week there were reports that bp was considering spending one of their dividend payments. it looks like today you got three dividend payments suspended.
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was there any talk about killing the anti-bp rhetoric in the meeting? jon stewart last week and this week has been very critical of the president. is the white house or the president concerned about influential allies in the media? >> no. i have said this before and i will reiterate. if the president had decided to run for president based on what the pundits were saying in december 2006 and january 2007, he would be in the senate. i appreciate the hand on the pulse of america by those that live on cable tv. i don't actually think that is where all of real american lives.
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>> right before this, one of the things some of the good government groups have complained about is the deal that was cut for the nra on non disclosure requirements. can you talk about what the president would object to that deal? >> i would be happy to go look get what was put out and give a sense of what is in that agreement. >> i would say probably about 45 minutes. >> how many hours for the whole meeting? >> possibly three hours. [captioning performed by
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national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2010] >> tomorrow, the ceo of bp, tony they are, is on capitol hill to talk about his companies response to the gulf oil spill. you can watch it live on c- span3 and and for more information about the gulf of mexico oil spill and to watch any of the seas and the only topic, digivisit our specil
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oil spill website. it is available now at c- to find out how the oil spill is affecting people living in the gulf coast, we talked with a small business owner in venice, louisiana. >> i am a lifelong resident of venice, louisiana. i have been here my entire life. katrina could not keep me awake. i was back to months later, so i am bound and determined to stay. since i was 6 years old, it has been my dream to open this business. katrina destroyed everything, and it took until february 2009 to rebuild and get back open.
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>> is that right here? >> that was right next door. my place had been open nine weeks. i was in business for nine weeks. >> i notice you have a bunch of signs up on the side of your restaurant. can you explain those? >> many mornings of frustration. you go to bed at night and watch on the news, and you wake up and see the same exact thing on the news. no progress whatsoever. they try to say things to make you feel better, but is not working. . .
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>> everyone within a matter of hours of the oil spill were totally devastated. this was not a hurricane rolling in. this was something we do not know how to pprepare for. we do not know how to recover from this. as far as how close it is to us, we woke up and two mornings later we could smell the oil on our front door. i mean, it is right here, in our
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front yard. where we live, there is a levy following the mississippi rather are and following the back bay. you can almost see the gulf of mexico from 100 yards behind my house. you can almost see the gulf appeared it will be up in those waters -- it will be up in those waters. all we need is a hurricane to come through and blow the oil up in here, and there might be air -- might not be a recovery for south louisiana. it is taking away our houses and our livelihood. it is taking away our passion for this area. and anybody that comes to south louisiana or anyone that stays along the coast is always, always taking in the life we are weak -- you are one of our lifelong friends. you cannot go anywhere and the country and feel like you do when you come to south
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louisiana. that is our nature. that is the way we are born and raised. we welcome everyone with open arms, just like we welcome the oil. we need to lift the ban on the oil right now. we need to be drilling. louisiana will need that not too far down the road to survive. >> what you think the federal government should do to help? >> let's see. where do we go from here? first, they came in after katrina. we saw what happened there. we got so much red tape, that people are still trying to figure out how to get home loans, how they can receive any money. i never received a penny or very much from fema. i do not know.
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with the government issues, i could sit and to heads all day long, because they do not live it. i invite any one of them to spend a week in our shoes. i have workers that -- they are quitting because they cannot keep up because of the stress. we have people that are being hired by bp, or whoever is working for bp, and are not getting paid. my husband has been working for over four weeks and he has not been paid. they want to see what it is like? let them come work with me in this kitchen. >> a cheeseburger? bring it on.
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>> up next, a summit hearing looks into the oil spill's impact on the local economy. president obama meets with bp executives on the white house and an update on the government's response to the oil spilled from today's white house briefing. on tomorrow's "washington journal", a look at the war in afghanistan with congressman joe wilson. we will speak with congresswoman kathy castor about the gulf oil spill and david michaels on protecting the safety of those working in the cleanup effort. "washington journal" is alive, starting at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. >> she was 8 -- he was a complicated, the press of young man and very adventurists.
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>> take a new look at alexis de tocqueville and his 1831 tour of america. "q & a." c-span's >> a senate hearing on the costs associated with the gulf of mexico oil spill. testifying are the bp vice president in charge of the claims process, and officials from the coast guard and government accountability office. senator tom corporate shares this hour, 45 minute hearing -- senator tom carper chairs this hour, 45 minute hearing. >> we will come to order. i want to welcome my neighbor from across the delaware river, my colleague. before i call on him, i would like to give an opening statement. once we are joined by other
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colleagues, if senator mccain it joins us before i recognize senator lott and byrd, senator mccain will give his opening statement. if other members of our panel show up before, the panel will have an opportunity to give opening statements. welcome one and all. for 58 days, the american people have watched the tragedy unfold in slow motion before our eyes. it was two months ago when we first heard the news of an explosion on the oil rig in the gulf of mexico and the loss of 11 american citizens. well today will be discussing at the financial costs of the oil spill, there is no value one can place on the tremendous loss of human life in this catastrophe. these were sons, brothers, husbands, and fathers. for those they left behind, my colleagues and i extend our
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sincere prayers'. while there is nothing we can do to bring these men back to their families and friends who love them, we can make sure the communities and industries they helped to build survive and began to write. -- again thrive. the coast of much of the gulf have a sustained enormous damage. these vital natural resources are the lifeblood of an conomy and a way of life. they are national treasures that must be protected and we will demand that they be fixed by those who broke them. this subcommittee wwll explore how we can ensure that americans can holbe made whole again witht putting a hole in our pockets. the white house deployed cabinet members to help manage the response, dispatched the coast guard and in some cases the
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national guard and brought together stakeholders and industry experts in an ongoing effort to get damaged -- the damaged well plugged as quickly as possible and to coordinate the cleanup response. as i like to say, if it is make afect, let's better. there is more the federal government can do. there is also more the pp and others can do as well. -- bp and others can do as well. i hope will get an understanding of how much it has cost and will continue to cost the taxpayers and how we can recover the money from those responsible for this disaster. the president and bp officials established a $20 billion independent trust fund to ensure that bp plays claims in the future as they have today. this is something that my colleagues and i called for, and i look forward to exploring how such a fund might work today at
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this hearing. it is clear the financial mechanisms we have in place, including the oil spill liability trust fund, were simply not designed to handle something of this magnitude. i look forward to hearing from gao about the risks and vulnerabilities of the trust fund they have found in the past and how this bill -- this spill encompasses the purpose storm of factors that would easily make it the most expensive ever. over $120 million dollars has been spent on ships and personnel to respond to the incident and much has been billed to bp and the other responsible parties. this past friday, bp wired their second payment of $69 million to the federal government. the coast guard will be sending
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their third bill, for roughly $50 million to bp, perhaps even today. i'm sure american taxpayers appreciate bp's prompt notice and payment. i hope will continue to see these responses as those costs mount. while we have seen several checks from bp and others, i hope to find out how the other responsible parties view themselves and one another when it comes to paying for this disaster. we are pleased to see mr. newman of transocean here today. i look forward to hearing how he views their role in his ongoing efforts. darko o invited anar petroleum which owns a 25% stake in the gulf well. their names are also on the bill from the federal government.
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unfortunately, they declined to send witnesses today. i am disappointed that they chose not to attend. it is my hope to have all responsible parties that are tabled. we all they can find time in the near future to discuss these issues with us and with the american people. the hole we are trying to plug is some 5,000 feet under the surface of the water. the men and women whose livelihoods and communities have been disrupted by this disaster live in many cases it right down the street. we can do a better job of protecting not only the gulf but our entire nature from the impacts of this bill -- this spill. this bill has lasted 58 days. longer than it rained for noah in the book of genesis.
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that story taught us that we can find something at the end of this planet. i do not know if we will find a rainbow. i hope at the end of the day we will find the end. catalyst to convince us to change course as a nation and to focus our energy, may be less on recovering petroleum and more on finding ways to become independent of petroleum and of foreign oil and independent of fossil fuels and make ourselves more energy independent and enhance our security and launch a new generation of technologies and innovations that will enable us to build a different kind it economy for our country. i am joined by the ranking republican senator mccain. after he has spoken, we will speak with senator lautenberg. then we will recognize others. thank you for joining us. >> thank you for holding this hearing today. i do not need to repeat out
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outraged and saddened all of us are by that the deepwater horizon it rate explosion that killed 11 people and spewed millions of gallons of oil in the gulf of mexico. every american is aware of that situation out and the catastrophe. as of june 14, bp estimated that the cost of the oil spill had reached $1.60 billion, including the cost of the spill response, relief well drilling, grants to called states, and federal costs. the company's ceo has publicly assured the federal government and the american people that bp will fully meet its obligations and pay all legitimate claims, even if aggregate claims exceeded the trip -- $75 million in legal liability limit. despite the government's unfortunate response at the outset it has incurred
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substantial costs in response at operations since the explosion. they have sent two invoices totaling $71 million for reimbursement to responsible parties. another invoice of $50 million is expected to be issued imminently. the disaster should provide many lessons for all of us, including the administration and congress, including a reminder that the jones act should be repealed. within a week of the explosion, 13 countries, including several european nations, offeredd assistance from the vessels and crews with experience in removing oil spill debris. however, the jones act, a protectionist law enacted in the 1920's, prevent foreign flag vessels from operating in transporting merchandise between. the bride and the united states.
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the administration may grant a waiver just as the previous administration did during hurricane katrina said the international community can assist, but they have not done so. there are other concerns. for example, u.s. attorney general eric holder also made an unprecedented announcement two weeks ago that the department of justice is opening a criminal and civil investigation of the gulf of mexico oil spill. however, at the civil settlement results from the investigation, the settlement charges may receive a favorable tax treatment, depending on how the settlement is drafted. the federal government and the taxpayers could indirectly pick up a portion of the tab for the responsible parties a mess. obviously, that is unacceptable. bp failed to prevent this catastrophic disaster, while the minerals management service failed to exercise robust enforcement of safety standards.
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we cannot allow the cost of their failures to be placed on the backs of american taxpayers. i am pleased, and i think you may have noted mr. chairman, that a recent reuter story -- a recent wire story -- bp ok's a $20 million payment -- $20 billion fund. >> a senior member of the environmental and public works committee -- we are delighted to welcome him for his comments. senator lautenberg. >> thanks, mr. chairman. senator mccain and i -- i would like to express my condolences to those families who lost loved ones in this horrendous
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catastrophe. thank you for giving me the opportunity to appear before the subcommittee on this issue. last night, the president spoke to the country and he could not have been clearer -- the needs of golf families, fishermen must not and will not take a backseat to bp's bottom line. earlier today, the president secured an agreement for bp to put $20 billion into an escrow account to pay for the damage from this spill into to remove bp from deciding which claims are valid. i commend the president for his strong leadership. i know he is determined to do everything in his power to hold bp accountable. the behavior of this company and its executives could not be more reprehensible. their greed led them in the first place to gamble with the lives of workers on the rig
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and the economy and culture of the entire region. when the inevitable happened, and the deep water horizon leaders ande , bps' downplayed the size of this bill and they lied about their ability to contain it. we have seen this kind of catastrophe before. it has been more than 20 years since the exxon valdez ran aground and oral is still contaminating. -- and oil is still contaminated. i saw the destruction caused by that oil spill firsthand. when the press coverage was intense, exxon issued a string of apologies. it promised to do the right things by the community and it vowed to make sure the way of life they knew would resume. but as soon as the cameras were turned off, exxon changed its tune.
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and it fought the communities, the families over every penny. instead of making those victims whole, exxon chose to make it laywerwyer-rich. they knocked down a punitive damage claims from $5 billion to $500 million. we cannot let history repeat itself. every four days, this bill of the size of the exxon valdez occurs every four days. we arefour ddaysays, witnessing the size of this bill that took place at exxon valdez. i want to make it clear that companies responsible for the oil spill must reimburse the american tax payer for every dollar the government spends on cleanup. while the amendment was not considered on the floor, the
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administration made it clear that bp will pay the bill. withicans are fed up broken promises. that is why we also must pass legislation to eliminate a measly $75 million liability cap of monetary damages. big oil, with the enormous profits every month, can afford to pay for their recklessness. i want to thank you, mr. chairman, and the rest of the committee for inviting me to speak today and more importantly, for holding this critical hearing. i hope we are going to your honest and candid answers from bp and the other executives about how they are going to live up to their obligations. thank you, again, mr. chairman. >> thank you for landing your voice to this hearing. i think, in terms of who should -- >> i will forgo opening remarks
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for the questions. i will defer to the good senator from arkansas. >> thank you so much. >> i do not have an opening statement. i will put one in the record. >> a good enough. with that, we can turn to our second panel. if the witnesses will make their way to the table, that would be good.
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>> i have had a chance to welcome the individuals individually. now i am pleased to welcome you collectively to testify. just provide a brief introduction. our leadoff witness will be daryle willis, vice president for resources for bp america.. he has been with bp for 18 years and processes claims for bp currently. steve newman it is our second witness. he is the president and chief executive officer for transocean. he has worked there for 14 years and first serve in his current position as president and ceo in
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2008. welcome. our third witness is craig bend. he is the director of the u.s. coast guard's national pollution fund center. it oversees the oil spill liability trust fund and tracks the cost of the oil spill. he has served in the coast guard for over 20 years. prior to his appointment as director, he cherished -- served as the chief of the financial division. our final witness is susan fleming, director of the infrastructure team at the government accountability office. she formerly served as a financial analyst for a general electric. your statements will be made part of the record. try to stay close to five minutes. if you run over that, that is ok. if you run a lot over that, it is not ok. will you leave us off? >> thank you para >> thank you.
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>> i am daryle willis, vice president of resources for bp america. on april 29 i accepted the role of overseeing the claims process, which was established after the fire on the deepwater oil rig. i am here to share information about the claims process. this incident, which killed 11 workers and injured 17 others, has profoundly touched all of us. there has been shocked that such an accident could have happened and sorrow for the lives lost and the injuries sustained. i would like to make one thing very clear. bp will not rest until the well is under control and we discover what happened and why in order to ensure it never, ever happens again. as a responsible party under the
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oil pollution act of 1990, we will carry out our obligations to mitigate the economic impact of this accident. the causes remain under investigation, both by the federal government and by bp itself. i am prepared today to answer questions regarding the claims process and our reimbursement of federal response costs. i cannot, however, respond to inquiries about the incident itself or the investigation. above all, i would like to emphasize that the claims process is integral to our commitment to do the right thing. we will be fair and expeditious in responding to claims. we have already paid out over $90 million in claims as of today. we understand how important it is to get this right. for the residents and businesses as well as state and local governments. to that end, we established 33 walk-in claims offices operating
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in louisiana, mississippi, alabama, and florida. we have a call center operated 24 hours per day, seven days per week. we have also established an on- line claims filing system to pick expedite our capacity to respond to potential claims. altogether, we have 1000 people handling claims and over 660 claims adjusters on the ground working in the impacted communities. we will continue adding people, offices, and resources as required and are committing the full resources of bp to making this process worked for the people of the gulf coast. our early focus on individuals and small businesses -- whose livelihoods have been impacted and are temporarily unable to work. these are the fishermen and shrimpers with the greatest immediate financial needs. bp is providing interim payments
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to those whose income has been interrupted. approximately 18,000 claims have already been paid, totaling $90 million today. we have begun sending out second advanced payments to individuals and businesses. we are also working hard to address a business loss claims. over the last two days, we paid out over $16 million in business claims. the claims process was established to fulfil our obligations as a designated responsible party under the oil pollution act of 1990. we are guided by the provisions of opa 90 as well as u.s. coast guard regulations when assessing claims. i am not an attorney. i cannot speak to the particular legal interpretations or applications of opa. i can reiterate that bp does not intend to use the 75 million- dollar cap to limit our
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obligation to pay these claims. we have already exceeded it and will not seek reimbursement from the oil spill liability trust fund. as an additional means of ensuring a fair and transparent process, today, an independent mediator, kenneth feinberg has been appointed to oversee the claims process. bp has committed to setting aside $20 billion in an escrow fund to pay legitimate claims. i would also like to briefly discuss the reimbursement of the federal government response costs. to date, the coast guard has sent bp and other responsible parties two invoices for federal government costs, totaling slightly more than $70 million. bp has paid these invoices promptly by wire transfer. in closing, i would like to add a personal note. my ties to the gulf coast run deep.
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i was born and raised in louisiana. i went to high school and college there and graduate school there. my family has spent many summers on the gulf coast. my mother lost her home of 45 years in hurricane katrina. the recovery process was sometimes time consuming and incredibly frustrating. i know firsthand that the people in this region cannot afford lengthy delays in addressing economic losses caused by this spill. i volunteered for this assignment because i am passionate about the gulf coast. it is the place i call home and i want to be part of the solution. with that, i welcome your questions. >> thank you for adding that to the close of your testimony. mr. newman, please proceed. >> i want to thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. my name is stephen demint. i am the chief executive officer of transocean. -- i am stephen
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newman. i am a petroleum engineer by training and i have spent considerable time working on drilling rigs. i have been with the company for more than 15 years. . .
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all like to provide the subcommittee with more details about these efforts. transocean is a people-focused company. since the events of april 20, our h.r. teams have focus on providing grief counseling and a range of benefits and employee services to those directly and indirectly affected. we are taking a number of steps, including providing the families of the 9 transocean workers whose lives were lost but benefits. continued full pay and benefits. compensation for personal possessions lost in the incident was offered to all crew and families and accepted by most. on may 25, we held a memorial service in honor of the men lost on the tragedy. it was attended by all 11 families, by many transocean personnel, and by people from across the industry. it was a moving event and an opportunity for all of us to celebrate the lives of these
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successful man. -- exceptional man. as i have said many times in the past, we believe that we have the most advanced equipment in the offshore drilling industry, but our people are the real reason for the success of transocean. this is inarticulate it to the guiding principles of our company, which goes by the acronym first. today i will focus on the r, which stands for respect for employees, customers, and suppliers. and the s, which stands for safety. our goal to be responsible employer guided our actions before april 20 and will continue to do so in the future. this respect is borne out in a number of ways. for example, transocean provides our employees with extensive training for all offshore and short-based activities. we work with employees to six
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supervisory positions and management roles and provide flexible work diapers flexible work hours to increase competency and opportunities. our company's culture of safety as long guided our actions. transocean was a key partner in developing the u.k. north sea's safety based methodology, and then in developing another safety guideline. but subsequently we applied that around the world, even where it was not required. we've also implemented on major accident-hazard risk assessment against -- across all transocean equipment. our commitment to stewardship is demonstrated by our active participation in a number of scientific, social, and conversation research programs around the world, including the gulf of mexico.
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we have invested millions of dollars of the past few years and it better understanding of the environment in which we work and the communities that support our operations. one such example is our support of a global program addressing scientific and environmental issues associated with remote operated vehicles. for over seven years we have been using our rigs as placings as of research to allows scientists to explore the deep water environment with cutting edge technology to better render stand the largely unexplored deepwater area of the ocean. another example is our membership in the global technical foundation for which transocean supports a range of coast restoration projects and the educational efforts across all five gold states, mexico, and the u.s. virgin islands. many of these products are in collaboration with noaa's coast restoration program along with other federal funded programs. with respect to the events of april 20, immediately after the
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explosion, we began working with bp in the unified command in the effort to stop the flow of hydrocarbons. our engineering teams have been working around the clock to identify and pursue options for stopping the flow as soon as possible. our drilling rigs are actively engaged in drilling the relief wells at the site. we will continue to support bp and unified command in all of these activities. throughout this time we have also been working hard to get to the bottom of what happened on the night of april 20. there are critical questions that need to be answered in the coming weeks and months, but we simply do not have all the data and ago the answers at this point. to understand what led to the april 20 explosion, we must work together in a collaborative effort to collect information and to recommend any corrective measures. we remain committed to this effort. as the subcommittee members are likely aware, the oil pollution act of 1990 makes it clear that
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we're responsible for fluids are originating from the rig, above or below the waterline. but not for fluids emanating from the well. once the extent of these liabilities or any materials is allocated to the rig are understood, transocean will continue our cooperation with the national pollution fund center to fill in the opiate obligations applicable to our operation. -- the opa obligations applicable to our operation. we will help remedy any impacts by the diesel release from the rig. that is not been detected. however we will continue to work to verify this as well as to determine whether or not there is any diesel fuel can -- still contained in the rigs tanks on the bottom of the ocean. additionally, as the national research assessment has been begun, is too early to
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ascertain if our companies responsibility in that context. as that process advances, we will cooperate and we stand ready to fill any potential obligations that may be found to originate from our duty. regardless, transocean will continue to lend our expertise to the spill containment and relief well drilling effort currently underway. the foundation of our company strength has always been the people who work at transocean and the communities where we live and operate. our commitment to both has been regularly demonstrated over the years, and i believe our continued commitment throughout this incident is evidence. we remain ready and willing to assist the subcommittee and all involved as the work progresses. thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today and i'm happy to answer your question. >> thank you very much for coming today. mr. bennett, please proceed. >> thank you very much, chairman carper.
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i am going to testify on the oil pollution act of 99 and subsequent responsibility. as someone who graduated from louisiana, and who later raised two children in florida, have a deep appreciation for the people and environment of the gulf coast. my role as the director of the national pollution fund center covers four areas. using a mouse that congress has made available from the well liability trust fund, second, i ensure the responsible parties are advertising its availability to pay claims for removal costs and damages. if claimants are not fully compensated, they may present claims to us. third, i cover federal recovery cost and clams from any and all responsible party. finally, i administers the certificate of financial
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responsibility program which ensures that vessels operating in u.s. waters have demonstrated that they are financially able to pay their obligations under opa. the cost of the federal response to this event was $270 million. these costs include the funding of robert 27 federal entities as well as $12 million given to states in response efforts. the key element of the liability and compensation regime is that the polluter pays. not the taxpayer. all the cost incurred against the fund will be billed to the responsible party. and has been mentioned, two bills have been sent and both had been paid by bp, both in less than five days. a third bill for over $50 million is being sent this afternoon. at the end of the event, the fund balance will not be impacted because all responsible -- all response cost will be had -- will have been covered by the
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responsible parties. with respect to decline, the national incident commander met with bp executives at the national pollution fund center last wednesday to direct progress in more transparency regarding the claims process. i met with bp officials in louisiana last thursday and my staff has worked with the bp claims people over this past week and to oversee the progress on the expectation set forth by admiral allen. more detail and context in the reports that we receive from bp as well as acceleration of the payment claims. progress has been made as mr. willett said. bp paid $17,000,000.337 checks to small businesses. -- $17 million in 337 checks to small businesses. they can provide social services
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and small business assistance to individuals, families, and small businesses affected by the oil spill. the team is made up of two parts -- the national level team located in washington, d.c. which coordinates strategic policy-level issues as well as providing support an issue resolution for the field-best teams. field-based teams are establish and eat impacted state to identify it resolution by the end to provide residents with full streamline access to all federal assistance programs. each field team is led by a federal resource coordinator with this date point of contact identified by the governor. individual communities -- individuals, communities, and more have suffered from the spill. there is a robust response and that the polluter pays. the department and the administration are working to ensure the full recovery
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throughout the affected states. thank you for your opportunity to testify today and look for to your question. chatha!!>> thank you for your wn your comments. >> mr. chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss the cost of major oil spills. the recent disaster in the gulf coast not only calls the tragic loss of 11 lives, but also on told economic and environmental damage to the gulf coast communities. this bill has reminded us that despite the fact that major oil spills are infrequent, they can happen anytime across coastal and other waters of the u.s.. it does remind us that vessels involved in the petroleum industry are not the only risk. cargo, fishing, and other types of vessels also carry substantial fuel reserves and as we are keenly aware, mobile offshore drilling units like the deepwater horizon also represent a threat. besides being potentially lethal
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and damaging the environment, spills can be existent. with considerable cost to the federal government and the private sector. my testimony to date is three parts. i will discuss the factors that affect major oil spill costs, how oil spills are paid for, and the implication of major cost on the oil spill liability trust fund. first, there are number of factors that combined in unique ways and at the cost of spills. location, time of year, and type of oil. although we had not evaluated the current spell for the factors affecting its costs, the magnitude of this bill will likely drive costs. for example, this bill occurred in the spring and an area of the country that relies heavily on tourism as well as commercial fishing industry revenues. one estimate puts the loss a revenue from suspended commercial and recreational fishing at about $144 million per year. and in addition, this bill
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occurred in proximity of tourism locations like beaches can incur additional cost because of clean up or because of stricter standards for clean up. another factor is the type of oil. that oil that continues to spill into the gulf of mexico is a light oil, specifically of light sweet crude oil and is very toxic and green -- and can create long-term contamination of the shoreline. it can harm water filed and bird-bearing -- fur-bearing menem -- mammal. many face grave risk from this bill. in recent testimony, the epa deputy administration described the deepwater horizon spell as a massive and unprecedented environmental disaster. i will enter into my second
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point. the oil pollution act established a polluter pay system that poses the primary burden of liability on the cost of oil spills on the responsibility -- the responsible party. the responsible party assumes up to a specified limit the burden of paying for spill costs which can include damage claims. above the specified limit, the responsible party is no longer financially liable. the fund was established to pay the cost above this lemon or potentially all cost if are responsible party does not pay or cannot be identified. dupont was financed primarily from a tax on petroleum products. but the gun to my final point. implications of major oil spills for the trust fund. today, the fund has been able to cover the cost not paid for by the responsible parties but the fund's future liability may be at risk. in particular, the fund is at risk from claims that significantly exceed responsible party liability limits.
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we reported in 2007 that the current liability limits for certain vessel attacked such as tank-barges are disproportionately low relative to costs associated with such bills. the fund faces other potentiaa drain on its resources including ongoing claims from existing spills, claims related to sunken vessels that could leak oil, and as in the case of the deepwater horizon, the threat of a catastrophic spill. the response for this spill has been over $1 billion and it has not been contained. the cold spell will include -- eclipsed of valdez, becoming the costliest spill in u.s. history. if the current authorization is for $500 million for damage claims. it is currently at $1.6 billion, not sufficient to pay for these costs for spills that will have catastrophic consequences. what bp has said and we heard
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today that it intends to pay all legitimate claims associated with this bill, should the company decide that it will not are cannot pay for these calls, exceeding its limit of liability, the fund will have to bear these costs. given the magnitude of this bill, the costs could result in a significant strain on the fund. in closing, major oil spills are rare but the risks exist daily. there's significant cost to the federal government, the private sector, the environment, the economy, and the public at large. although the fund has been able to cover non-catastrophic liabilities, the uncertainties and unprecedented nature of the current spell and potential future spills could threaten the funds liability. mr. chairman, this concludes my statement. i look forward to our discussion and would be pleased to any -- answer any question. jenny we look forward to it as well. thank you so much for coming today. we will be providing each member supplements for questions --
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seven minutes for the first round. we will take it from there on the second round. always start out with a couple of questions. one question for mr. willis and for mr. newman. and then my next question will and then miss fleming. as you and mr. newman know, we invited representatives from anadarko and others here today. it declined to join us. this is an invoice, a bill that the federal government has sent to responsible parties on june 2, asking for the reversal of some $69 million. anadarko is right here along side of bp and transocean. how do your company's few anadarko's role in helping to pay for this disaster? how do you view their role and
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how can you pay for this disaster? have you communicated with these companies to see what their role is in paying for this disaster? >> mr. chairman, our commitment from the very beginning of this incident was to make sure that any legitimate claim for costs associated with this spill, that we honor that obligation and make those payments. my focus is being involved in the claims process has been on making sure that when something is committed to was and is substantiated, that we pay those bills quickly. the focus has not been at this point on working through any issues with partners, but making sure that we as bp do the right thing and live up to the claims that we have made, which are to honor our legitimate claims and quickly. >> let me go back to my question.
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how does your company few anadarko and the other and how can you pay for this disaster? have you communicated with these companies to clarify what their role is? >> there will be plenty of time to sort that out. when the bills, and and we look them over, if they are legitimate and associated with this spill, they are going to be paid and we're going to pay those bills. >> my understanding is that the well under -- the well owners in line as responsible parties for damage resulting from fluids emanating from the well bore. and so if i apply that framework to bp anadarko, and the other, they are all and that tier. transocean it is a member of the subcontractor community that bp hired to carry out the well construction.
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we're subordinate to bp and their role it as responsible party for the fluids emanating from the well bore. >> in when you say we, that includes anadarko and the other? >> they are all well owners or partners of the well honor. transocean is one of the many subcontractors that bp hired to carry out the well construction process. >> before i turn to mr. bennett, mr. newman, let me ask you a follow-up. how this transocean you itself in terms of responding to the cost associated with this oil spill? i think you alluded to that in your comments. what conversations have you had between your company and bp on what transocean might or might not be liable for >> transocean liabilities under the oil pollution act talks about fluids emanating from the rig, either
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above or below the surface of the water. we continue to monitor the treat -- the drilling rig on the seabed. so far there has been no indication of any fluids is skipping from the drilling rig. we will continue to monitor it and we stand ready to meet our obligations for any fluids that emanate from the drilling rig. >> mr. willis, do you share that view with respect to transocean's liability? >> honestly, we focused on making sure that the cost associated with this cleanup and spill in the gulf of mexico are paid. and that people have been hurt along the gulf coast are compensated with any losses associated with the cleanup. that is what we're going to do. >> how does your office view
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these two companies and what communications have you had with them to ensure -- to make sure they understand their responsibility here. and perhaps a more important question -- what is their responsibility here? >> i would be happy did answer that question. when we reimburse any fun, we send the bill to any and all of the responsible parties that have been identified up to that point in time. as you know, there's tier liability that has been mentioned and different amounts that different partners might have related to their relationship. they're responsible for the ocean floor release which is clearly the biggest part. that is what bp and the minority policies -- leasees would be
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responsible. it would not be unusual for the majority partner to pay the bills and work it out behind- the-scenes how much they would go. we don't have visibility on that as long as someone is paying the bill. as long as i get repaid, that is what i care about. >> mr. willis, one more for you. i remember that the president and bp announced a $20 billion fund and an independent escrow fund. we commend you for that. the fund will be administered by ken feinberg who also oversaw the 9/11 victim compensation fund. it would replace the current bp claims process which you are in charge of. what discussions have you had
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with your people of bp and what the federal government, however my work, and how you would transition to this new process? >> add you has mentioned, mr. chairman, this was recently announced. after conversations with our executive team and the administration. there are lots of discussion that will be taking place over the next few days and weeks to determine how the transition will take place, but at this time i do not have the details. >> 90. >> thank you, mr. chairman. following up on the chairman's question, mr. newman, you stated that you feel that your liability is only that may have been called -- caused by diesel released from the rig, either above or below the surface? is that correct? >> yes, sir, that is my understanding of the company's responsibility under the opa.
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>> mr. fleming, do you have a view of that? >> this is not my level of expertise. it is my understanding that the coast guard interprets bp and transocean to be responsible party. there may be a contractual relationship that comes into play. is definitely blanc -- beyond my level of expertise. >> mr. bennett? >> sir, that is respect. they are all responsible parties, but ultimately how much you would be liable for would be returned by the debt -- by the investigation and all handles out. they may not be equally responsible. >> since we are paying claims, it might be nice to try to start figuring that out pretty quick. because bp is paying all the bills right now, is that right, mr. willis? >> that is correct. >> so there are other entities, including two who refuse to testify here today, that may
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have some liability. what are we going to go to find out who is responsible and the extent of their responsibility? mr. newman, it appears that they're not going to be liable for anything, so to speak. >> senator, under opa, if we get the payment, we do not look beyond that. i suspect the administration and the department of justice will be following up with the investigation on all of those questions and looking at that. >> mr. chairman, i think they ought to get some understanding of the liability. if they are the only ones paying the bills and there are others who were involved, maybe some of them should be paying some of the bills, too. you share that view, ms. fleming, or is that about your
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pay grade as well? >> i think the biggest concern that we do not know what the true cost of this bill are going to be. we're dealing with an unprecedented -- >> that was my next question. >> and the impact, what it will be in terms of the pond, how will it impact on the responsibility to pay for future spills as well as ongoing claims. so there is a lot at stake here. >> you did not answer my question but it does not matter. the oil spill liability fund henceforth known as the fund, that is clearly going to be exhausted, right? >> i think that this fund definitely -- the catastrophic consequences could have a severe strain to the fund. there are other issues as well. if bp honors its claim to pay if bp honors its claim to pay all of the


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