Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX/4) participated in a press conference today with a group of House members representing states affected by the Gulf oil spill and who oppose President Obama's drilling moratorium. Congressmen from Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi participated.
The press conference followed the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee hearing entitled "Drilling Down on America's Energy Future: Safety, Security and Clean Energy." Hall is a long time member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Witnesses present at the hearing included Rex Tillerson, Chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobile, John Watson,. Chairman and CEO of Chevron Corporation, James Mulva, Chairman and CEO of Conoco Phillips, Lamar McKay, President and Chairman of BP America Inc., and Marvin Odum, President of Shell Oil Company.
At both the press conference and Congressional hearing, Hall expressed frustration with the way in which the spill has been handled by the federal government and BP. He specifically took issue with President Obama's criticism of former President Bush and his Administration's policies. "The push to say this is the fault of the energy people, this is the fault of the last president -- I don't recollect our president on 9/11 going to New York and blaming it on Bill Clinton," said Hall.
In a prepared statement, Hall said the following:
"BP is ultimately responsible for this oil spill. They are responsible for repairing the damaged well, and as the owner of the mineral rights to drill for oil in the Mississippi Canyon Block 252, BP is also accountable for the clean up costs. To date, BP has paid out over $63 million in claims and will be paying millions more moving forward.
"I am very troubled about the way our administration has handled the situation. Imposing a 6-month drilling moratorium, including a halt in consideration of shallow water drilling in the Arctic, is only tying one hand behind our back in the effort to move forward. It does not help fix the leak, it does not help in the cleanup effort -- it only amplifies our dependence on foreign oil.
"This proposal only serves to shift drilling to other countries along with thousands of U.S. jobs. It is far more productive for the Federal Government to advance research and development to help industry not only drill responsibly, but also more effectively clean the water and land after spills. The Outer Continental Shelf, or OCS, is one of the nation's greatest resources for energy."