Congressman Bruce Braley is a member of a House committee that’s been questioning executives from the four companies involved in operations of the oil rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. During today’s hearing, Braley questioned why alarms on the rig didn’t sound to warn that there’d been a dramatic increase in pressure in the pit and the flow of fluids into the well before the rig exploded.
“These events should have triggered alarms that would have given the people monitoring the situation on that well advance notice of a catastrophe in the making,” Braley says. According to Braley, congress needs to find out exactly what happened and that means asking questions of federal regulators, too, as British Petroleum had certified that the company could contain and control a spill of 250-thousand barrels of leaking oil per day.
The Gulf Oil spill is estimated to be about 5,000 barrels per day. “I think we need to take a step back, get all the facts straight, and then decide whether there are legislative or regulatory responses that need to be put in place to prevent such an event from reoccurring,” Braley says.
In April President Obama announced plans to expand off-shore drilling. Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, says it’s time to “reexamine” expanded oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and along the country’s east and west coastlines. “It wasn’t very long ago that we heard chants of ‘Drill Baby, Drill,'” Braley says. “And obviously given the extent of our commitment to off-shore drilling this certainly calls into question whether we should be focusing our resources in future development of off-shore oil wells or placing that money in renewable sources of energy which is what we’ve been doing in Iowa for the past decade or more.”
Last week Braley introduced legislation which raises the cap on the amount of money which companies can be required to pay after an oil spill. Braley says he’s concerned when he hears the chief of British Petroleum say the company will pay “all legitimate economic damages” related to the oil spill.