May 11th, 2010
08:48 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Oil Spill Blame Game

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/US/05/10/gulf.oil/story.oil.shore.gi.jpg caption="A fish killed by unknown causes washed ashore in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, on Monday." width=300 height=169]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

There is still no accurate timetable for controlling the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Today lawmakers on Capitol Hill tried to find out who's responsible for the mess. They got few answers and lot of finger-pointing.

At the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, the owner and operator of the well, BP, said the fault lies with the company it hired to work the well: Transocean. BP officials specifically pointed to Transocean's valve, or blowout preventer, that was supposed to cut off the oil after the accident; but it failed. Meanwhile, Transocean is pushing blame in two directions. First, back at BP and second, it blames subcontractor Halliburton, which encased the well in cement. As you might predict, Halliburton is also denying responsibility and says the focus should be on Transocean and BP.

We're keeping them honest tonight on 360°. Tom Foreman will break down the blame game and show you how this is playing out.

Senators on both sides of the aisle are not happy with the denials from the three big companies.

"It doesn't benefit any one of them for BP to be pointing the finger at Transocean, to be pointing the finger at Halliburton, to be pointing the finger back, at BP, because if there is no offshore exploration activity then BP's not going to be working out there, Halliburton's not going to be working out there and Transocean's not going to be working out there. So they've got to resolve, all of them, that the effort now is to make sure that we never see a disaster of this magnitude again," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), a supporter of offshore drilling, at a news conference this afternoon.

"I think it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that there is no such thing as 'too safe to spill,' " said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), a critic of offshore drilling, at today's hearing.

Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar spoke about the crisis on CNN's Situation Room today. He said everything is being done to try to stop the oil leak as "fast as possible."

"Best case: That it starts coming into some kind of containment over the weekend and into next week and the next couple of weeks. Worst case is looking at August with a relief drill," Salazar said.

We’ll also continue Nic Robertson's eye-opening report on the new jihad training ground here in the U.S. - maybe even in your town. Nic spent the last year retracing the steps of a young American, to determine how the former altar boy from Long Island, New York became determined to kill for al Qaeda.

Also tonight, in Washington state three men and a woman are accused of killing a man over a diamond ring. All four are charged with the murder of Jim Sanders on April 28 after he posted an ad for the ring on Craigslist. Sanders, his wife and their two sons, ages 14 and 10, were restrained with plastic handcuffs during the deadly home invasion, investigator said. Sander’s wife is speaking out. Hear what she said she and her family faced that day.

Join us for these stories and much more starting at 10 p.m. ET. See you then.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Paul McCain

    As a recent chemical engineering graduate, it is absolutely absurd that the people of this country are not taking more of a stand! It is because of BP’s negligence that this happened. If you look at OSHA’s website, BP has a history of unsafe and neglectful practices. Any time that a process is designed a proper failure mode analysis should have been done and the solution to such an event should have already been in place! Americans should support safe practice of all industry processes. As consumers we do have power, DON’T BUY BP FUEL!

    May 12, 2010 at 1:21 am |
  2. Al Gli

    I am confused why a safe technology is not used to degrade the oil spill in the open water. I bought from a company in California that provides natural products for the algae in my lake and I got another product that cleaned up my 5 acre irrigation lake where crude oil pumped into the water from oil sitting on the groundwater table. I use the water for my citrus trees and I know first hand that the products are safe. They call the technology bioworld bioremediation and my lake was totally cleaned of the sticky, black oil. I was wondering if Anderson Cooper can ask the people at BP if they know about this bioworld. I know Anderson Cooper cares about the environment and this sure seems like a viable solution that is much safer than what I hear about the dispersants. I would not have let any harmful products get on my 400 acres of orange trees. PS Anderson is a very fair interviewer with the show guests. This is my first comment to a news site.

    May 12, 2010 at 12:21 am |
  3. Jeanene Milanak

    Stop the pointing fingers, you're all like little boys who smashed a window, arguing among yourselves to try to not have to pay for the damages. The real issue is stoping the leak, or in the very least, minimalizing it! The damage is done, now we have to look beyond the finger pointing and just realize the priority is the enormous leak that threatens ecosystems! Mastermind a way to a solution, not what a valuable arguement would be in your behalf. Find a way to plug or crimp it, in the very least until you can take better measures to control it!!! I am sure everyone will pay in the end in more ways the one, the real problem remains, an out of control leak thats devistating in many ways!! You're grown men deal with it then face the consequences!

    May 12, 2010 at 12:19 am |
  4. Bman

    Boy they must really want to stop this oil leak now that it is too late.
    The cat is out of the bag, as they say, and now there is all hecks to pay. One thing I would like to say is BP is not too big to fail. Nor is Haliburton nor is the other subcontractor. So they should take their junk-shots and dispersants, and whatever else they use to try and sweep this under the rug, and know that they will be called to account for the full cost of the damage, and they will be responsible for it. If the company goes bankrupt trying to fix it, I have no problem with that, but I doubt it will be enough to fix it.

    May 12, 2010 at 12:06 am |
  5. Dana Nieves

    Why is BP alone in this catastrophe? At this very moment, all of the major oil companies and players should be working together, bringing in their experts and engineers to work on a solution to cap the leak, pooling all their resources, i.e. ships, equipment, etc. to contain the oil spill. Instead, they act as if it's not their problem and look the other way.

    The oil companies spend a lot of money lobbying against government regulations, but are quick to ask the same government to help clean up their mess.

    This is the time for action. There's always time for finger pointing later.

    May 12, 2010 at 12:00 am |
  6. James

    The fact that BP didn't have a emergency plan in place if the blowout device didn't work? Thier next best option was to drop a containment container 5000 feet and cover the top of the pipe. I 'm no engineer but even I knew that wouldn't work. I could of sworn I saw ACME on the side of the container and Wile E. Coyote operating the crane...This is not a laughing matter and is truly a world tragedy that will effect us all in some way.

    So BP what is your carbon footprint?

    May 11, 2010 at 11:44 pm |
  7. Leanne

    Hi, just wondering if anyone knows–would it be possible to CAD weld another pipe inside the existing pipe 50 metres down? What kind of pipe is there now–casing or drill?

    May 11, 2010 at 11:36 pm |
  8. Bryan Wolf

    I also used to be a Prime Contractor and unfortunately that is the one overall responsible. Then it rolls down hill from there if you get my drift.:)

    May 11, 2010 at 11:35 pm |
  9. Manny

    Also, since the leak is releasing hundreds of thousands of gallons & will take months to fix. All that oil will spread accros the gulf, would the other nations around the gulf such as mexico & cuba have any international law suits against BP & the other companies or the U.S.?

    May 11, 2010 at 11:34 pm |
  10. MR.AL

    BP, HALLIBURTON AND TRANSOCEAN your not the holy trinity!! Your all to blame your nowhere near the holy trinity. If you paid attention to good business practice rather than going the cheapest way mabey you wouldn't be in this mutch trouble. Greed seems to be what you practice for business. Youv'e made alot of people loose income, your posining wildlife this is your faults stop pointing fingers GET IT FIXED,PAY WHAT YOU OWE.

    May 11, 2010 at 11:29 pm |
  11. MikeSN

    Just put the hose down from the tanker and cover it all with enough cement (that hardens under water) to stop the leak. If leak reappears, continue until it stops leaking.

    May 11, 2010 at 11:20 pm |
  12. John Saunders

    My thoughts concerning the oil crisis in the Gulf of Mexico and I know nothing about oil production.

    1. I feel it is highly possible to lower the discharge pressure of the damaged well head, if the surrounding oil platforms were placed in high production mode. I'm making an assumption that the platforms in the gulf are pumping from the same reservoir. If this is done, I feel there is a good probablity this action would lower the oil flow pressure at the damaged well head long enough for permanent repairs to be completed. Take time to view a map showing the locations of the oil drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. There are hundreds and hundreds of oil rigs there.

    2. Open the main valves of the other surrounding oil rigs–wide open–and freeflow the oil into the ocean. This may be what it takes to equalize the reservoir pressure so the damaged well head can be repaired or capped. I know this is not comparing apples to apples, nevertheless, firefighters may decide to burn a valley in an attempt to save a mountain.

    I know this is an environmental nightmare. Perhaps these suggestions may help.

    John Saunders

    May 11, 2010 at 11:19 pm |
  13. Tracy

    It is my hope that the blame game can stop and that the lives of 11 men who died in this incident will be remembered, and their deaths bring about some positive change in the way things are done.

    May 11, 2010 at 11:17 pm |
  14. hays

    i am a resident of louisiana and restaurant owner. i tried to contact bp to offer my services it took four hours on the phone, i feel that this is a major catastrophe and one main thing people are not thinking of is the immediate impact financialy and otherwise we just got over katrina and gustav and kick us while where down. there is not enough crews down there to plug this thing and clean up. oh yeah and by the way oysters will no longer be available after this week from the gulf coast.

    May 11, 2010 at 11:16 pm |
  15. tommy

    I don't kow why they haven't pumping heavy mix cement into the well to plug the well. The heavy cement will eventually set and plug the well head at least temporarily. This will buy them some times to think of a more sound permanent solution.

    May 11, 2010 at 11:15 pm |
  16. Manny

    Since the 3 companies are playing the blame game, why does'nt the government hold all 3 of them responsible?

    May 11, 2010 at 11:14 pm |
  17. Robert

    If they let this oil leak into the Gulf for many more weeks or months this will become the worst environmental disaster caused by mankind. I still can not understand why they were allowed to do this type of work without having emergency procedure plans in place.
    Why can't they use a large powerful vacuum that could suck the oil directly from the leak or cover it with tons of concrete to give them enough time to drill the relief.

    May 11, 2010 at 11:04 pm |
  18. K

    BP is responsible alone

    May 11, 2010 at 10:56 pm |
  19. Julie McVay

    Anderson, just wanted to thank you for your program tonight regarding "The Blame Game"! Please continue to follow this very important story. As a resident of the beautiful Gulf Coast, (Mobile,AL), everyday carries more uncertainty with the continued unknown effect on our environment in years to come. This should be of great concern to all across our nation.

    May 11, 2010 at 10:52 pm |
  20. Charlie Hartman

    Why is it EASY to build a rig, 5000+ feet deep buit they have NO IDEA?? how to cap it.. How stupid does our Goverment Officals and the 3 Main companies involved think we are. Well the answer is in HISTORY for our elected refuse to read/remember or even care all they want is to be Re-Elected... Hey here is a thought ......

    If you are not part of the SOLUTION ??? then you also are part of the problem along with BP and the other 2 companies

    So how about this EZ solution

    If you do not FIX IT we the Voting public ( not the many small groups you like to suck us into) group together and let you all go for new people with new ideas and sincere desire to fit it or not being re-elected either

    No partners with the big bucks slush funds of the parties then big business will not Play the American Public.....................

    May 11, 2010 at 10:45 pm |
  21. Charles Bell

    I think there is a conspiracy between BP, Transocean, and Halliburtan because I think they're all three in on this situation together. I hope that the government thinks about this as a possibility, but never the less these big time environmental culprits need to be brought to justice in some shape, form, or fashion, and I mean a huge fine, not just something petty.

    May 11, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
  22. Melissa Gray, CA

    It sickens me that the government has not imploded the hole at the seafloor as soon as the people were safely out of the area. The fact that they are more worried about still finding away to extract the oil from the disaster area is unforgivable. This is going to affect the entire ocean life that will come full circle to all of the life on this planet. The chemicals involved in this will be in our rain water, affecting the entire circle of life. What an ecological mess this is, we haven’t begun to find out.

    I hope that someone wises up soon. Because we will all be to blame for not making them close it.

    May 11, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
  23. Andrew Filak

    Anderson Cooper The easy way to stop the oil leak isto squese the pipe flat and fold it. We have all kinds of hydrolick devices that can squize a pipe shut. Why don"t the oil companys used them.

    May 11, 2010 at 10:38 pm |
  24. John

    I wonder why they did not have their big metal box ready and tested for the depth they were going before this all happened. you would think that with their money they would have a plan A, B, and C before this happened. You would think they would plans lined up for an environmental situation like this.

    May 11, 2010 at 10:34 pm |
  25. Bill Garcia

    As these companies play the finger pointing game the northern gulf coast contemplates the beginning of hurricane season in approximately 2 weeks. One can only imagine the ecological devestation that would take place should a storm move through the gulf with this oil spill remaining active. I wonder if it is possible to calculate the amount of oil that would be moved inland by the fierce winds and enormous tides these storms cause. As I have lived in South Louisiana for last 47 years I am keenly aware that historically storms form in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico during the early part of the season. God be with us should this scenario play out.

    May 11, 2010 at 10:32 pm |
  26. Ann Houston, TX

    I don’t understand why the government lets these corporations undertake ventures that have the potentials of causing such severe damage to us and to the environment without first ensuring that there are EFECTIVE AND CERTAIN measures that can be applied towards accidents such as the bp leak. I ain’t no brain surgeon but it’s apparent to me that the government needs to consider us “regular” people who can’t get on our private jets and relocate across the world to new pristine islands when these greedy selfish corporations destroy our neighborhoods, our waters and our air!

    May 11, 2010 at 10:31 pm |
  27. Elisabeth Gleckler

    They don't have the technology to stop this gusher – golfballs and shredded tires to plug it up? That is the signal that no one knows what to do.
    What is disturbing is that the companies are acting like they can throw money at some subset or group of gulf residents and then they have done their duty. No money will replace the breeding grounds, migratory paths, loss of fisheries, shrimping stock, micronutrients in the gulf. No money will replace a lifestyle in many communities across five states.
    For us who were in Louisiana during Katrina, this is heartbreaking. It also presses the rage button that was wired in all of us watching inadequete reactions to past disasters.
    If anyone wants to see what happens when government is smaller and regulations are cut, come on down and make a visit to Grand Isle or Terrebone parish marshes.

    May 11, 2010 at 10:29 pm |
  28. John

    They may say BP wil pay but the people will pay. Drivers that put gas in their cars will be paying higher gas prices, in the end BP will still be making more than they did last year. You cant expect these companies to admit blame that would be opening them up for lawsuits and we all need to know the real reason and make the right ones pay.

    May 11, 2010 at 10:28 pm |
  29. Brian

    Lets stop playing the blame game and solve the problum. What if BP put another rig over the pipe and tie back into the pipe with the curent technology we should be able to do this

    May 11, 2010 at 10:25 pm |
  30. Arturo Jabra'il Sancho

    The fact that BP did not have its 100 ton crude oil funnel, nor the smaller "Top Hat" ready and waiting in their crisis inventory, makes the company fully responsible for the oil leak and spill.

    There should have been an emergency contingencies constructed, and on hand, in anticipation for something as critical as a blow-out valve failure!

    May 11, 2010 at 10:25 pm |
  31. Ted

    How typical american of us always looking for soemone us to blame. We are all to blame for lazy apathetic and pathetic approach to allowing our "elected officials" to go 30 plus years without having the courage to establish a true long term energy polciy that was not so dependant on fossil fuels. Yes BP and all the other corporations involved in this incident are to blame. But first we americans need to take the blame for our apathetic "it's not my problem" attitude for this energy issue along with all the other failures we have allowed our policitcal leaders to patrionize us on. These crisis obviously sell excitemtn for the news media but at the end of the day does really address the problem Worthless polciitcal leaders.

    May 11, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
  32. Dr. Robert Chase

    We experienced a serious engineering failure in the BP disaster. Unfortunately, we have no engineers in Congress....we have attorneys and politicians who can't fathom (sorry about the pun) what caused the problem or how to solve it. The blame game will ultimately play out in the courts, but for now, let's let the engineers who can solve the problem do so (and they will!) and give them all the support they need to do it. Diverting corporate attention away from the problem and it's solution is counter productive.

    May 11, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
  33. Peggy Outly

    Why isn't the US government fining BP daily for this tragedy? A million dollars a gallon would be letting them off cheap. I don't see the appropriate level of outrage given the situation. 250M gallons a day? and Congress is asking who is to blame. Who cares who is to blame, get in there and figure out how to end it! Are we going to depend on the fools who caused the problem to fix it? We put men on the moon we should be able to stop an oil leak. Come on people!!!

    May 11, 2010 at 10:23 pm |
  34. Kayla Sutton

    As a Canadian, I can't truly comment on American issues, per-say. HOWEVER this is a global issue!!! I really and truly don't care who is to blame in this!!! Find that out later, just fix the mess that has been made before we end up killing all the fish and precious, IRREPLACEABLE wildlife that is in our oceans!!! THAT is what I want to see happen. Not people playing the blame game, but people stopping this ecological and environmental disaster!!

    May 11, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
  35. Jim H

    While the companies are definitely to blame for this problem to one degree or anther – why is nobody taking on the regulatory agencies. All those people we have been paying milliions of dollars to make sure the companies do what they are supposed to do have been doing nothing from what I can tell. I find it interesting that when the republicans were in the White House it was usually always the governments fault i.e. Catrina, but now that the Democrats are there, it's always the corporations fault. It's not either/or, it's both/and, at least keep it fair.

    May 11, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
  36. CAPT Shriver Hering, USN(Ret)

    Laurie, I agree with you, and your conclusion. But to make it clear what responsibility means, let me share with you and Anderson and the Blame Game bigwigs, a very clearcut explaination from a guy who REALLY knew how to define it:
    "Responsibility is a unique concept. It can
    only reside and inhere in a single individual.
    You may share it with others, but your portion
    is not diminished. You may delegate it, but it
    is still with you. You may disclaim it, but you
    can not divest yourself of it. Even if you do
    not recognize it or admit its presence, you
    cannot escape it If responsibility is rightfully
    yours, no evasion or ignorance, or passing
    the blame can shift the burden to someone else.
    Unless you can point your finger at the man who
    is responsible when something goes wrong, then
    you have never had anyone really responsible."

    ADM, U.S. Navy

    May 11, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
  37. Jeanene Milanak

    Is there no way to crimp he pipe or plug it to AT LEAST slow the spill?

    May 11, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
  38. Lesa, Wilmington DE

    Im wondering why they just cant destroy the whole pipeline for this spot-just cap it permanantly. Is it about money and NOT wanting to lose this tap?

    May 11, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
  39. Carl

    There you go, Dump garbage in the Gulf......Thats the answer.
    Why aren't they already drilling a new hole? Idiots!

    May 11, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
  40. Stu

    Stop the blame and make them pay for every day they don't get it fixed. Who cares who is to blame just fix the problem and pay back the american public for this mishap and the problems it will cause the states involved

    May 11, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
  41. Jacobi, UK

    Who's to be blamed for the oil spill? That's no brainer. The answer is simple – who owns the cargo being lifted?

    JO, UK

    May 11, 2010 at 10:14 pm |
  42. William Rilling

    I have heard experts many times recently refer to the "Cement" provided by Halliburton. Cement is only a bonding agent to make "Concrete". Wake up guys and get the experts to use the correct terminology!

    That may be getting to the bottom of this problem, but if no one knows the difference or challenges it, it puts the whole conversation in doubt!

    May 11, 2010 at 10:13 pm |
  43. Dudley

    Is it the right time to start that blaming game ???????? why they dont focus on controlling the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico?????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    May 11, 2010 at 10:13 pm |
  44. jenna

    Those guys really have fun with that interactive display board, don't they?

    May 11, 2010 at 10:08 pm |
  45. Laurie Belvin

    It has been established under law that companies that work under contracts and the compnay that makes the contract (here BP) are both responsible. The courts do this so contracts are not infinitely made for the purpose of not having any responsibility for actions. Otherwise there would be "we take your responsibility and do nothing but go bankrupt" companies. The end result should be that BP is responsible because companies CAN contract for others to do work, but NOT to take away any resonsibility to act reasonably safely. This has long been established under law. BP is playing with the public's lack of knowledge. BP is responsible no matter what.
    Worse yet, BP is trying to keep it 's drilled hole open in the sea floor as oil flows out into the ocean. The U.S. government will unltimately probably best hire engineers to implode the hole and send BP the bill. SOON!

    May 11, 2010 at 9:54 pm |
  46. Annie Kate

    BP as top dog in this should bear the fault. The buck literally stops on their desk; if their subcontractors they hired to do certain things screwed up then BP should have been keeping closer watch and holding them to higher accountability than what they obviously were. BP may internally divide up penalties and costs between themselves and their 2 contractors but as the main company on this project they cannot wiggle out from the blame.

    Saw England had a new prime minister – problems cited were too big a deficit, etc. Sounds like everyone has the same problem. Hope our government takes notice of the sentiment in Britain and applies it here as well; if they don't then they are less smart than I thought they were to start with.

    May 11, 2010 at 9:42 pm |
  47. david

    I don't think we should have expected anything different today in Washington. Of course, nobody is going to admit liability. This has to play out in the courts and it will. Whatever the evidence says (and they don't have all of it compiled yet I would not think) will dictate liability and who ultimately pays. BP has strict liability to clean up the mess since it is their well but they will subrogate against whomever they think is the responsible party. To make an issue of the executives testimony is nothing more than ratings at this stage.

    What bothers me more at this point is that the oil industry, not just BP, does not have an answer for a well out of control in 5,000' of water. I hope somebody asked the question before now, "What if the BOP does not work?", but it does not seem like they did. Shame, shame on the industry. That is the inexcusable part, not a well out of control as that happens, though I think we will ultimately determine that this is human error.

    Finally, anybody taking notice of who got the most votes in Britian, who is PM, and what their #1 objective is? Cut the deficit and run a balanced budget, NOW!!!!!! I sure hope Washington is paying attention as the same sentiments are in this country.

    May 11, 2010 at 9:26 pm |
  48. Cecil

    Those that oppose offshore drilling should remember that the ocean tankers bringing oil to America from the mid east are just as dangerous.

    May 11, 2010 at 9:22 pm |
  49. Beth Kenny

    They are all to blame for the oil spill. These companies need to admit what they did wrong and fix it.. Apparently nobody was prepared for this disaster. Everybody is trying to fix this by the seat of their pants. It is ridiculous that there virtually is no plan. Plan C should've been implemented three weeks ago...........Plan c should've been plan A and right now the gusher would almost be closed. The Gulf of Mexico is dying people. It is the Gulf of Massacre and all three companies share responsibility for this disaster.

    May 11, 2010 at 9:13 pm |
  50. Malcolm

    Personally, I believe it's BP faults. They WILL pay for this. This is absolutely ridiculous, BP is not being a good corporate citizen and like all citizens, they must pay for their actions.

    May 11, 2010 at 9:11 pm |
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