More Questions on the Gulf Spill

Yet another Senate Committee has launched a probe into the catastrophic spill in the Gulf of Mexico, with some new questions about angles that have yet to be explored in the incident. On Monday, the Senate Finance Committee sent inquiries to the heads of the three oil and oil service companies involved with the rig and to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The committee’s questions focus both about what happened on the night the rig exploded, and what regulations the rig may have skirted.

A few lines of questioning that are new in the letter from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa): the committee wants to know why the Deepwater Horizon was operating under the flag of the Marshall Islands, as has been reported, and whether that may have been used to avoid US regulations. The letter also asks for a list of all other BP rigs flying under the flags of foreign countries. Grassley also asks for records of “all tax breaks and/or subsidies” that Transocean and BP may have received for the Deepwater operation.

There’s also this bit, which may yield some interesting information about the White House’s relationship with BP:

Also, I have learned that BP sent a letter dated April 9, 2010 to the White House Council on Environmental Quality regarding offshore oil drilling. I would like to more information about BP’s contact with the White House on this matter.

Grassley sent a separate letter to Salazar asking for more information about the oversight from Minerals Management Services (or lack thereof).

Here’s the letter to BP, the letter to Halliburton, the letter to Transocean, and the letter to Salazar.


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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.