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Oil Industry Spent Big on Senate Oil Spill Panel Members

<Update: The New York Times reported blow-by-blow from the Senate oil spill hearing as it came to a close.>

<Update: At today's hearing, BP President Lamar McKay blamed the well's blowout preventer as the culprit in the Gulf oil spill catastrophe, and described the failure as unusual. But, an Associated Press investigation shows that blowout preventers are notoriously unreliable.>

<Update: Lisa Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said today the Gulf oil spill disaster was unprecedented, telling CNN the spill "has the potential to be worse than anything we've seen.">

While the Big Three companies responsible for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill face scrutiny from the Senate Energy and Natural Resources and the Environment and Public Works committees, Reuters reports that "32 of 40 Democrats and Republicans who sit on the [ENR and EPW committees] have collected millions of dollars from BP or other oil and gas interests during election campaigns dating to 1990, public records show."

Senators are still asking the tough questions about what happened in the Gulf of Mexico. Sen. Menendez, who did not receive BP contributions, was very critical in questioning after a short recess. He targeted BP as "a company not only not prepared to address a worst case scenario, but a comapny... jumping from action to action, and this doesn't give me the sense that this is a company ready to deal with a worst case scenario."

Menendez also asked why the Deepwater Horizon rig and subsequent drilling permit did not receive any environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act. BP America President Lamar McKay responded, "When the lease sale is done, there is an environmental impact statement and that is used as environental analysis as the [Minerals Management Service] mandates. This is a common industry practice." Menendez dryly replied, "It seems that is a common industry practice we need to review."

Tags:  Arctic, congress, oceans, oil

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