Cassidy Discusses Oil Spill On CNBC

June 2, 2010

Baton Rouge, La – Louisiana Congressman Bill Cassidy discussed the Gulf Oil Spill on CNBC’s SquawkBox this morning. Video and partial transcript is below.

On division of responsibility between BP and government

Cassidy: “There’s several aspects of this. There is the aspect of actually getting down there at 5,000 feet below sea level, where action is taking place with ROVs. On the other hand there’s another set of action, where the federal government is trying to establish where the flow rate is. The federal government should have been working with that right off the bat, making decisions regarding the dispersants. In fact, that should have happened in 2003, according to recommendations from the National Research Council. One of the frustrating things, things are now being added on an ad hoc basis, which were recommended to occur in 2003.”

Deepwater permitting process is broken

Cassidy: “One of the frustrations here is that the permitting process, which was permitted in February 09, clearly was inadequate. And it’s unclear though, whether or not it was deviance from the permitting process or whether the permitting process itself. For example, in committee hearings in Natural Resources, Liz Birnbaum, former director of MMS, said that they never would have approved a drilling permit which allowed for removal of the drilling mud before placing the final seal. BP says that it’s their understanding that the permit was allowed and it was safe practices. So, we actually have a question right now between Liz Birnbaum and Lamar McKay as to what the permit said, what is allowed, etc.”

On the future of deepwater drilling

Cassidy: “Well, clearly it’s going to change. Whether it’s going to change for good is arguable. There’s 2,300 deep water wells in the world, and this is the first one that’s had significant problems. And when you look at the data, it looks like three hours before the blowout there is evidence it was going to begin to flow. Clearly there was something bordering on negligence here at multiple steps along the way. Now, this is not an act of God. It’s something that could have been prevented. At multiple levels, there is systemic failure of oversight by industry and apparently by MMS. That said, it’s probably going to indict all deep water drilling for better or worse, for valid or for invalid reasons.”

“It’s important to point out that if we close down deep water drilling we’re going to inherently import more oil. There are more oil spills statistically from tanker accidents than there are from drilling accidents, even after this drilling accident. And so people here want rationality. They’re not sure if Washington is going to be rational.”

On the tension between coastal and energy industries
Cassidy: “The people down in Louisiana have lived with this tension in terms of economic development in terms of supplying nation’s energy needs and the environmental trade off for quite some time. And they understand these things can be prevented. They are not acts of God. They are things that can be planned for, prevented, if thought through. The fishing folks very well coexist with the energy industry, have for many decades. Although this is going to destroy the fishing industry this year, it’s going to destroy the commercial and recreational. Going out, I think everyone here fears there will be an overreaction from Washington. That’s both the fisherman as well as the energy people.”

Plenty of blame to go around

Cassidy: “They are blaming both, they are blaming BP, because it seems to be emerging that BP took some short cuts that weren’t safe. But also there is a concern that the Administration was lackadaisical in their response, and although it said it was on top of things, there is evidence that it was not.”

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