Washington, DC- Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Energy and Enivornment Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Commitee, issued the following prepared remarks at a hearing he chaired entitled: “The BP Oil Spill: Human Exposure and Environmental Fate:”

"It has been 52 days since the BP Deepwater Horizon drilling rig began spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, creating a man-made environmental catastrophe of a magnitude never before encountered in this country.

"A few weeks ago, I led a Congressional delegation to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. We flew over the disaster and witnessed the streams of oil that stretch as far as the eye can see, and saw the billows of smoke from the burning oil rising hundreds of feet above the sea surface.  This past weekend, I returned and saw the stain of BP’s oil on the cane in the marshland. Every day, as this oil encroaches on our wetlands and estuaries, we all sense the doom facing the countless species that live both above and below the surface. 

"Oil has made its way on to the beaches and marshes of 4 coastal states. Dispersants are being used in unprecedented quantities and at depths never before attempted. Methane and other gases spew from the gaping wound BP has inflicted on the ocean floor, mixing with the oil and dispersants to create a toxic stew of chemicals.  Hundreds of animals - birds, fish, turtles, dolphins and other species – have already been found dead.

"We've also heard reports that there may be clouds of sub-surface oil that pose an insidious threat to deep sea coral and other marine life - oil that will not make its presence known by the clear signs of tar balls or oiled birds, but which could nevertheless harm generations of aquatic life.

"As these enormous toxic clouds drift through the ocean, naturally occurring bacteria that eat the oil and gas will ALSO consume the oxygen needed by other marine plants and sea-life. So in addition to slowly being poisoned by the toxic stew, marine plants and animals are therefore also being faced with death by asphyxiation.  Large portions of the food chain of the Gulf region may be at risk of annihilation. 

"The impacts of this calamity do not end in the water or on the shores.   The crude oil and burning operations have left the air in the regions closest to the incident thick with a mixture of chemicals that have been tied to acute health problems such as headaches, dizziness, nausea and respiratory irritation. These chemicals have also been linked to the development of cancer and other chronic diseases. In addition, there is increasing concern that seafood from the Gulf is being contaminated with petroleum products and other chemicals, putting human health in the direct line of fire and tugging at the Gulf region’s already sensitive economy.

"After 6 weeks of failed junk shots and top kills, and endless television images of ineffective skimmers and booms, BP finally admitted the truth. There was no viable response plan because BP did not invest the time or resources and therefore didn’t have the “tools”. Its response plan included walruses and seals as sensitive biological species in the Gulf of Mexico.  It listed as its experts some who were long-deceased, and phone numbers for offices that didn’t exist.  It claimed that there would be almost no impacts associated with a worst-case release of ten times as much oil as we now face.

  "It is clear that we cannot trust BP to assess or address anything.

"Today we have with us experts who have been in the Gulf studying this spill, and who can share with us the ecological and human health impacts that BP’s oil will have.

"I look forward to hearing this important testimony. But first, I’d like to recognize my distinguished colleague from Michigan, Mr. Upton. "