Rep. John Sullivan, R-Tulsa, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, prepared this statement for a subcommittee hearing on the cause of the Gulf Coast oil spill.
“Thank you for holding this hearing today examining the causes of the Deepwater Horizon gulf coast oil spill. While the exact cause of this terrible tragedy is still being investigated, I am interested in learning from our witnesses their thoughts on what went wrong and their ideas moving forward to prevent this from ever happening again.
“On April 20, 2010, a fire and explosion occurred on the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico unfortunately killing 11 of the 126-person crew and injuring many others. My thoughts and prayers are with all of the affected families. This spill has the potential to be a massive ecological catastrophe as nearly 4 million gallons of oil have already spilled into the gulf since the accident.
“I commend the brave men and women who are working day and night to stop the leak and protect the shoreline in the gulf region. This is a challenge of epic proportions and it is the job of this committee to conduct a fact-based investigation into the disaster to find out what went wrong and how we can prevent it from ever happening again.
“However, I am disappointed that no one from the Obama Administration is here to testify on the Department of Interior’s role and response to the accident. Given the integral role of federal oversight in offshore drilling operations, it is critically important to hear the Administration’s point of view and to get their take on what safety lapses occurred, and if any regulatory breakdowns happened at the Mineral Management Service (MMS) that may have contributed to this terrible accident.
“During this hearing and the continuing investigation it is important that we do not lose sight of the fact 30% of total U.S. production of crude oil comes from offshore. While some may want us to stop drilling offshore all together this would be a terrible mistake. If we were to ban or restrict offshore drilling we would simply increase our national dependence on foreign oil which make our nation less secure short term and long term and increase the cost of energy. We should not use this tragedy as an excuse to rollback the gains we have made in finding new ways to develop our own energy resources as we will need more oil and natural gas to help meet growing demand for energy in the coming decades.
“We still have work to do to uncover exactly what went wrong. There are many questions that will asked today on ongoing efforts to contain the leak, whether there are potential equipment or operational irregularities that played a part in the accident, and what we can learn from this tragedy going forward.”