Congressmen Investigate Gulf Emergency Response Plans

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

With oil still gushing into the Gulf and the ability of BP to respond to the environmental devastation it has unleashed in question, congressional investigators are now taking a closer look at the company’s emergency response plans. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) have requested information from four companies that provided services or consultation for emergency response to BP and rig owner Transocean.

The congressmen sent letters to the heads of the National Response Corporation and the Marine Spill Response Corporation, two companies that had service agreements with BP. They also sent inquiries to the Marine Preservation Association, which funds the Marine Spill Response Corporation, and the O’Brien’s Response Management Inc., which served as a consultant on emergency response issues to both BP and Transocean. The congressmen request all information related to the companies’ response plans for an emergency at the Macondo well site, correspondence with the companies, and “all documents relating to failure to control an oil well on the seabed.”

More attention is being paid to how much, if at all, these companies paid to emergency response planning. Clearly not enough, as we’re seeing very clearly in the Gulf. Numerous attempts to stop the well have failed, and the company has been unable to control or contain the oil gushing into the ocean. On paper, the company’s plan might be funny if the company’s failure to anticipate this kind of situation wasn’t so tragic.

A Senate committee has also asked the Department of Justice to look into whether BP made false claims about its ability to respond to a disaster in plans submitted to the government. The DOJ says it is “examining the full range of affirmative legal options that may be available to the United States” in dealing with the companies found to be at fault in the Gulf.

If you appreciate our BP coverage, please consider making a tax-deductible donation.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend