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REP. PARKER GRIFFITH (R), ALABAMA: -- our valuable resources can continue, and I might say this to you. You are never as good as they say you are or as bad as they say you are, so this hearing will go back and forth.

The other thing I'd like to remind the committee is that the greatest environmental disaster in America has been cigarettes. Sixty thousand Americans today this year will die from cigarette-related cancers. So, if we're going to talk about the environment, let's be sure we don't leave that out. I'm a cancer specialist, by the way, by training, and I never fail to bring that up.

So, the environment is it an important concept. We regret the loss of life, but there is much that we can do. And we can put this in perspective. This is not going to be the worst thing that ever happened to America.

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ms. Schakowsky, three minutes opening statement, please.

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

At this very moment, oil is gushing from Deepwater Horizon blowout at a rate between, we've learned, 35,000 and 60,000 barrels a day, killing animals, destroying fragile wetlands, and wiping out entire populations of fish and along with it the jobs of hundreds of thousands of people. Most upsetting about this travesty is that it could have been avoided. As the ongoing investigation by this committee has already discovered, BP executives created an atmosphere where safety concerns were ignored in order to ensure that the company's already staggering profits this year, approximately $93 million a day in the first quarter continued unabated.

This appalling disregard for the Gulf Coast and its inhabitants is, without question, one of the most shameful acts by a corporation in American history. Sadly, the Deepwater Horizon spill is just the most significant example of BP's disregard for the environment and the well being of its workers.

A report published by the Center for Public Integrity found that between June, 2007, and February, 2010, BP received a total of 862 citations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Of those, a staggering 760 were classified as being egregious and willful, compared with eight at the two oil companies tied for second place.

Inexcusably, this pattern of behavior continued in the spill's aftermath. I hold in my hand a document called "Voluntary Waiver of Release" that BP made unemployed fishermen sign before they could be hired for spill cleanup.

The waiver states: "I hereby agree on behalf of myself and representatives to hold harmless and indemnify and release, waive and forever discharge the BP Exploration Production Inc. from all claims and damages that I or my representatives may have with regard to my participation in the spill response activities."

I know that you said this was an early misstep and that this was just a standard document, but this was the first response that you had to people that were hired, and outrage does not begin to express my feeling. These are people who are unemployed because of the recklessness of BP, forced to take jobs cleaning up BP's mess in order to survive, yet to qualify for those jobs --

KING: You're watching our continuing coverage of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

The big drama today, the testimony of the man you see in the upper right of your screen, the CEO of BP, Tony Hayward. For the past hour, this committee hearing has been under way. Opening statements from the chairman, other members of the committee. Mr. Hayward has been waiting patiently.

Also on hand, our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash. I want to bring her in.

Dana, so far, predictable scorn from the Democrats and a couple of surprises from the Republicans.

DANA BASH, CNN SR. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There were some surprises. I think the most interesting and perhaps the most fireworks was, ironically, not anything to do with what this hearing is about, which is specifically an investigation into what went wrong, and wanting to get Tony Hayward to answer questions about some incidents that happened leading up to the explosion. But, in fact, it was about that $20 billion escrow fund that executives at BP agreed with the president and administration officials at the White House that they would go ahead and do.

Well, we heard from a ranking Republican, a top Republican on this committee, that he was not happy with that at all, and then a Democrat said it's absolutely appropriate.

Listen to what happened.


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