Udall and Salazar Roll Up Their Sleeves in the BP Mess

May 12 2010, 8:57 AM

Hauled before Congress to explain what led to an oil-rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico three weeks ago, BP America's chief exec, Lamar McKay, insists that the company adequately anticipated the potential scale of a spill and that cleanup operations are going according to plan (via Britain's Guardian). McKay and officials from other companies affiliated with the BP rig---which killed 11 workers, sank into the sea, and is sending 4-million-and-still-counting gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf off the coasts of Louisiana and Alabama---faced questions Tuesday from members of a Senate panel, including Colorado Democrat Mark Udall. Udall was critical of Elmer Danenberger, a former chief of the Offshore Regulatory Program within the Minerals Management Service. "MMS has demonstrated its close and sometimes inappropriate relationship with industry," Udall says, though Danenberger is taking exception to some of the remarks (via BuzzFlash). As for McKay, he says it is too early to tell who is to blame for the oil blowout, which the companies have yet to determine how to stop the leaking oil. The New York Times, in an editorial, is critical of officials for passing the buck and lawmakers for not being tougher. "The Obama administration and Congress are going to have to press a lot harder to figure out what went wrong and what must be changed--including how the industry needs to be regulated--to ensure this never happens again," the Times writes. But the administration, via Colorado's homegrown Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, is already proposing solutions. Salazar wants to see the MMS split into two, according to The Associated Press: One agency would inspect oil rigs and enforce safety, and the other would oversee leases and collect royalties. The changes are needed "so there is no conflict, real or perceived, with respect to those functions," Salazar says.