Rep. Markey Faults BP Along The Way

Congressman Ed Markey has been one of the major critics of BP's efforts to contain the oil that, until late this week, was spreading into the Gulf of Mexico. Host Scott Simon talks with Markey, who chairs House committees on climate and energy and says BP should measure more precisely the amount of oil that has spilled into the ocean.

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SCOTT SIMON, Host:

Congressman Ed Markey has been one of the major critics of BP's effort to contain the oil that of course until this week was spreading into the Gulf. He chairs the House committees on climate and energy. Yesterday we caught up with the Massachusetts Democrat at his office in Washington.

He said BP should measure more thoroughly the amount of oil that's been released from the well that's been shut.

ED MARKEY: At this point, we actually do not know precisely how much oil per day has been spilling into the Gulf of Mexico. That is why it would be wise to have a test to see exactly how much oil has been coming out, put it all in ships up on the surface of the ocean, so that at the point at which the liability of BP is being determined - that is, $4,300 per day per barrel of oil is the fine - if they have found to be grossly negligent, that that number can be established with some precision and that it is not contested in court by BP.

SIMON: You've asked them to provide more information about the integrity of the seafloor in which they were operating and the full scale of their containment efforts. You satisfied with their response?

MARKEY: I think that they could have done a better job over the last couple of months in making it more transparent to the American public what the integrity of the well has been, what the integrity of the geology around the well has been. In the past few days they have become a little bit more transparent, which is a good thing.

But in general, I believe it is characteristic of the way in which BP has handled this entire catastrophe from the beginning, which is to make public information - which the American people have a right to have access to - only reluctantly and only after being pressed to make it more public.

SIMON: And Mr. Markey, how has the company been recently about writing checks of reimbursement for the cleanup and liability claims by people in the area?

MARKEY: The company itself, up until the point at which the president named Ken Feinberg as the administrator of the fund, had been quite parsimonious in the checks which they cut, in order to ensure that the people whose livelihoods had been harmed would be properly compensated. I think that now that Ken Feinberg is in place to administer the funds, I believe that that will speed up the process.

And I also believe that BP should put aside the full amount of the fund immediately. I think if that happens, then we will be in a better position to give a guarantee to those people down in the Gulf region that they will be compensated sufficiently to ensure that their livelihoods will not be destroyed.

SIMON: And Mr. Markey, how do you respond to I think a chorus of some criticism that we've heard in recent weeks, that constant criticism of the company doesn't help and might even harm the fortunes of the company at a time when ironically the people in the Gulf need the company to succeed so it can pay off claims and pay for the damages?

MARKEY: I wish that criticism of BP was unnecessary. I wish that in the first week they had not contended that the spill was only 1,000 barrels per day, which they knew was not true. I wish that in the second week they had not said that the spill was only 5,000 barrels per day, which they knew was untrue. I wish that they had not contended that the rig could not sink, but it did. I wish that they had not promised that they could clean up 250,000 per day, which obviously they cannot.

So the criticism of BP is basically a response to the lying or the incompetence which the company engaged in - especially in the early weeks of this disaster.

SIMON: Democratic Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts, thanks for your time.

MARKEY: Glad to do it. Thank you.

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