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May 12, 2010

Finger pointing at Deepwater Horizon hearings

The Deepwater Horizon incident today became the subject of hearings in Washington, DC and in Kenner, Louisiana.

Mr. Lamar McKay , President and Chairman , BP America, Inc. Mr. Steven Newman , President and Chief Executive Officer, Transocean Limited and Mr. Tim Probert , President, Global Business Lines; Chief Health, Safety and Environmental Officer, Halliburton were among witnesses at a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Mass media coverage of their testimony was peppered with such phrases as "finger pointing" and "blame game." You can judge for yourself by watching C-Span coverage HERE and downloading the witnesses' prepared statement HERE.

In the afternoon, the three executives were the first witnesses at a separate Senate hearing on the Deepwater Horizon incident, this one before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. At this one, some of the finger pointing was being done by long time opponent of offshore drilling Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). You can access a video of this hearing, along with witnesses' prepared statements HERE.

Meantime, in Kenner, La., the Deepwater Horizon joint investigation board held its first day of hearings into the circumstances surrounding the explosion, fire, pollution and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon on April 20, 2010.

The joint investigation has the powers of both convening agencies, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and the Minerals and Management Service (MMS), and is co-chaired and staffed by representatives of both agencies. The facts collected at this hearing, along with the lead investigators' conclusions and recommendations will be forwarded to Coast Guard Headquarters and MMS for approval. Once approved, the final investigative report will be made available to the public and the media. No analysis or conclusions will be presented during the hearing.

The hearings began Tuesday at 8 a.m. Witnesses were sworn in and there were two sessions, with the morning session concluding at 11:30 a.m. and the afternoon session re-convening at 12:45 p.m. Testimony was given by seven witnesses, with testimony ending at 4:35 p.m.

The witnesses Tuesday were:

Kevin Robb, Eighth Coast Guard District command center search and rescue coordinator

Capt. Alwin Landry, master of the motor vessel Damon B. Bankston

Anthony Gervaso, engineer from the Damon B. Bankston

Paul Erickson, chief mate from the Damon B. Bankston

Frank Patton, Drilling Engineer, MMS New Orleans District

Eric Neal, inspector from MMS

Bob Neal, inspector from MMS

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