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The Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming addressed our nation's energy, economic and national security challenges during the 110th and 111th Congresses.

This is an archived version of the committee's website, where the public, students and the media can continue to access and learn from our work.

Congress: Taking action on the BP Oil Spill

Congress: Taking Action on the BP Oil Spill

For a PDF of this document, please CLICK HERE

Uncovered the Truth about the Size of the Oil Spill

First BP told America the oil spill was 1,000 barrels a day. Then 5,000 barrels a day. But after Congress brought in outside experts and forced the release of video footage, scientists have placed the spill at 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil per day. This is now the largest oil spill in U.S. history. The size of the spill is critical information that will help families and businesses in coastal communities prepare for the damage.

Still image from underwater video

Forced BP to Make Live Video of the Oil Spill Available to the Public

It took 23 days for BP to produce images from the leak site. After this shocking footage appeared, Congress was able to pressure BP into releasing a live video feed from the ocean floor. The response from the public has been overwhelming, with House websites receiving over a million hits in just the first few days.

Diagram of Blowout Preventer

Image Courtesy Washingon Post

Uncovered Key Evidence in Blowout Preventer Failure and Mistakes that Caused Rig Explosion

Investigations by the House Energy and Commerce Committee uncovered the missteps and safety violations that led to the Deepwater Horizon explosion, killing 11 people. The blowout preventer was riddled with problems, including a significant leak in a main hydraulic system that was improperly modified and not powerful enough to cut through joints in the drill pipe. Plus the “deadman switch” - the last line of defense - had a dead battery. Poor cementing and fatal decisions made by BP in the hours and minutes before the explosion have also been uncovered by the committee.

Cut BP's Use of Dangerous Chemical Dispersants

Despite the assertions made by BP that dispersants can be safely used, Congress warned of potential harm from the long-term use of these chemicals on the marine environment, the food chain and families living in the Gulf of Mexico. BP has relented to Congressional pressure and reduced the use of these dispersants and the EPA directed BP to make new recommendations for dispersants.

$500 Million from BP for a New Research Fund

Congress has called on companies responsible for the disaster to pay for outside research and development from independent scientists to ensure this never happens again. Including oil clean-up technology and improved deep water solutions to stopping oil leaks in the future. Following this request, BP pledged to donate $500 million to establish this fund which will also assess the ecological impacts on the Gulf.

Protecting Families and Businesses in Coastal Communities

Congress has held numerous oversight hearings with the companies responsible for the oil spill in the Gulf: BP, Halliburton and Transocean. Congress has also called in the Administration to ensure that clean up and recovery efforts by local, state and federal agencies are in place to protect families and businesses in the Gulf. Congress is providing oversight of the FDA to ensure the food supply and the fishing industry are protected from chemical dispersants.

Creating an Independent Panel

Congress called on President Obama to create an independent, blue-ribbon commission to investigate the BP oil spill, ensure that clean up and recovery efforts are enforced, and to make safety recommendations on deep water drilling moving forward. The President responded by creating a bi-partisan commission headed by former Sen. Bob Graham & former EPA chief William Reilly.

Map of Spill Area

For a PDF of this document, please CLICK HERE

PLEASE NOTE: The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming was created to explore American clean energy solutions that end our reliance on foreign oil and reduce carbon pollution.

The Select Committee was active during the 110th and 111th Congresses. This is an archived version of the website, to ensure that the public has ongoing access to the Select Committee record. This website, including external links, will not be updated after Jan. 3rd, 2010.

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