Oversight and Investigations?
by: Larry Walker, Jr.
Only one constructive question came out of the Congressional hearing with BP's CEO, Anthony Hayward. The question was, "Why aren't relief wells drilled at the same time as the main well, and would it make sense to drill one or two relief wells along with the main well in the future?" That was a valid and constructive question. It is, however, really a regulatory question and not so much the responsibility of BP. No other question posed during the rest of the hearing was even valid.
I can't believe that the present Congress is anywhere near the best that America has to offer. I am convinced more and more that we just need to clear the slate and start over. I am ashamed of the US Congress. Congress wants to act tough and bully people around, "who are you....who are you...who are you...," but it would be more effective if we had a Congress with brains, one which knew how to match wits with normal everyday human beings.
Hayward, was at one point compared to the captain of a ship that had crashed and killed 11 people. Come on! The fact is that Tony Hayward was not the captain of the Deep Water Horizon. Hayward was not aboard the rig when it blew, and probably had never set foot upon it during its short life. At worst, BP hired a contractor, who either cut corners, or followed the orders of some lower-level BP employee to cut corners. As a fellow CEO I have empathy for Mr. Hayward, and nothing but contempt for Congress.
For example, if a certain department head within a corporation cuts corners in order to improve his own personal bonus, and then covers up his dirty deed, which is later discovered and reported to the CEO, then is the CEO responsible for the corner cutting? No. The CEO is responsible for putting in place mechanisms for discovering the incident, and for taking action against the employee, but the CEO is not responsible for the infraction committed by one of his, or her employees. The employee who screwed up is responsible and should be held accountable.
Here's another example. If an accountant embezzles $800K from his employer, stealing money that was meant to pay payroll taxes, and hides the delinquent tax notices, then is the CEO of the company responsible for the crime committed by one of his employees? No. The CEO is responsible for trying to recover the money from the embezzler, and for making sure the back taxes are paid, but the CEO is not guilty of committing the crime.
If Congress was at all interested in getting to the bottom of the Deep Water Horizon accident, then it would wait for the conclusion of the investigation, and allow the proper authorities to take any necessary legal action. It's clear to me that this Congress has no interest at all in getting to the bottom of the incident, nothing to offer in solving the current leak, and no ability to oversee the future of offshore drilling. With the exception of that brilliant question mentioned above, the hearing was a total waste of time.
Are you shocked? Am I suddenly supposed to trust the same people who lied about health care reform and the stimulus program? Instead of wasting valuable time, this subcommittee ought to be investigating the regulatory failures of the MMS, the EPA and the US DOE. It looks like the House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee could use not only a few lessons in oversight and investigations, but a complete replacement of its members.