Congress Investigates Gulf Oil Spill

  • One area the investigation will focus on is whether the blowout prevention and emergency shutoff devices had been tested and properly maintained for use at the drilling facility.(Photo courtesy of the US Mineral Management Service)

Next week Congress will hold what’s likely to be the first of many hearings on the drilling rig explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Lester Graham reports this is just the latest Congressional investigation into BP’s operations.

Transcript

Next week Congress will hold what’s likely to be the first of many hearings on the drilling rig explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Lester Graham reports this is just the latest Congressional investigation into BP’s operations.

Congressman Bart Stupak chairs the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. He says you can add this oil spill in the Gulf to several oil spills on Alaska’s North Slope and the refinery explosion that killed 15 people in Texas City in 2005. He says earlier this year he fired off a letter about billions of dollars in budget cuts BP just recently made.

“We wanted to make sure these cuts don’t negatively affect the safety of the workers or the environment. I mean, we put that in writing to them in January. And when I heard about the blow-out and the fire down there and the accident, they didn’t have to tell me the company that was bitten by this. I just figured it was BP.”

Stupak’s subcommittee will be questioning BP officials, the drilling rig operators, TransOcean, and Halliburton which did maintenance work on the rig.

For The Environment Report, I’m Lester Graham.

Related Links

Fish and Wildlife Service to Cut Staff

More job cuts might be on the way at National Wildlife
Refuges, but the new Congress will apparently be taking a
closer look at reductions announced by the US Fish and
Wildlife Service. Chuck Quirmbach reports:

Transcript

More job cuts might be on the way at National Wildlife
Refuges, but the new Congress will apparently be taking a
closer look at reductions announced by the US Fish and
Wildlife Service. Chuck Quirmbach reports:


The fish and wildlife agency already has announced plans to
cut more than 250 jobs over the next three years. Further
cuts are expected soon.


The agency blames a flat budget and rising operational and
personnel costs, but Jeff Ruch of Public Employees for
Environmental Responsibility says visitors to the affected
refuges will find a less enjoyable experience at no real
savings in tax dollars:


“All the cutbacks in the refuge system are less than what
we’re spending in Iraq in a day. I mean to put it in some
perspective, we’re talking about literally millions of
dollars versus billions of dollars that are being
hemorrhaged out of other government operations.”


Democratic Congressman Ron Kind co-chairs a caucus on
wildlife refuges. He says he’ll try to address the job cuts
in the next federal budget.


For the Environment Report, I’m Chuck Quirmbach

Related Links

Call to End Sewage Overflow Into Lakes

An Illinois Congressman says all cities should follow
Chicago’s example and end sewage system overflows into the
Great Lakes. The GLRC’s Tracy Samilton reports:

Transcript

An Illinois Congressman say all cities should follow Chicago’s
example and end sewage system overflows into the Great Lakes. The GLRC’s
Tracy Samilton reports:


Many cities in the Great Lakes watershed have aging sewage systems that
can’t cope with heavy rains. That can result in untreated sewage being
dumped into the Great Lakes.


Illinois Congressman Mark Kirk says Milwaukee dumps a billion gallons of
untreated sewage into Lake Michigan every year. But he says cities in Indiana
and Michigan have also dumped sewage into the Lake. Kirk has co-authored a bill
that would give all cities in a Great Lakes watershed twenty years to fix problems.
After that, they’d would face fines of 100 thousand dollars a day per incident.


“The dumping of raw fecal matter into the lake, the alarming rise in beach closings…
20 years from now, that should all be part of our past and not our future.”


In the meantime, the bill would also require cities to let the public know
when they dump sewage into the Great Lakes.


For the GLRC, I’m Tracy Samilton.

Related Links

Budget Cuts Threaten Kirtland’s Warbler

The Kirtland’s warbler has been on the endangered species list since 1966. In that time, the population has grown from an all time low of 167 mated pairs to over 14-hundred. Now budget cuts are putting the recovery effort at risk. The GLRC’s Charity Nebbe has more:

Transcript

The Kirtland’s warbler has been on the endangered species list since
1966. In that time the population has grown from an all time low of 167
mated pairs to over 14-hundred. Now budget cuts are putting the recovery
effort at risk. The GLRC’s Charity Nebbe has more:


The comeback of the Kirtland’s warbler is largely due to an annual
trapping program aimed at cowbirds, but federal funding for the US Fish
and Wildlife Service program has now been cut.


Cowbirds lay their eggs in the nests of other birds. Species like the
Kirtland’s warbler raise the cowbirds at the expense of their own young.


Jim Bull is a past president of the Detroit Audubon Society. He says the
trapping program has been an inexpensive and effective way to protect
the warblers since 1972.


“Before the trapping program there was less than half a Kirtland’s
warbler fledging per nest. With the trapping program almost
immediately that went up to three young leaving the nest.”


Michigan Congressman Bart Stupak has introduced a measure to restore
the funding. In the meantime, a reduced program will be carried out with
the help of volunteers.


For the GLRC I’m Charity Nebbe.

Related Links

Congressman Blocks Oil and Gas Drilling Ban

  • Republican Congressman Mike Rogers. (Photo courtesy of house.gov)

Some environmentalists say they’re outraged that a Michigan Member of Congress blocked a bill to permanently ban oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:

Transcript

Some environmentalists are outraged that a Michigan Member of Congress blocked a bill to permanently ban oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:


Republican Congressman Mike Rogers blocked a bi-partisan federal effort to ban drilling in the Great Lakes. Rogers’ office says taking state control away on drilling could lead to taking state control away on other issues such as water withdrawal. He doesn’t want the more politically powerful arid Southwest states using it as a precedent to take federal control of the Great Lakes.


Cyndi Roper is with the environmental group, Clean Water Action. Her group and others say under the guise of protecting the Great Lakes, Rogers is actually exposing the Lakes to new risks.


“By putting a ban on oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes, this isn’t an issue of control of the Great Lakes, it’s an issue of protecting the Great Lakes.”


There is a moratorium on new drilling on the Lakes that expires in 2007. It will then be up to each individual state to decide whether to allow new drilling.


For the GLRC, this is Lester Graham.

Related Links

Politician Retaliates Against Amtrak Supporters

  • A Member of Congress retaliated against his colleagues when they supported Amtrak. (Photo by Michael Sloneker)

A Republican leader in the House of Representatives is retaliating against members of Congress who support Amtrak. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Charlie Schlenker reports:


(According to a news report, the Member of Congress who took
the action, Rep. Istook from Oklahoma, has since apologized and has said that he will do everything in his power to rectify the situation. You can read the report by following this link)

Transcript

A Republican leader in the House of Representatives is retaliating aganst members of Congress who support Amtrak. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Charlie Schlenker reports:


Ernest Istook is a Republican Congressman from Oklahoma. He opposes Amtrak, and he chairs a key subcommittee that controls some transportation funding. Some Republican members of Congress signed a letter asking for additional spending on Amtrak. In the recently passed omnibus spending bill, Istook made cuts in transportation projects in the districts of members who signed the letter. Tim Johnson is a Republican congressman from Illinois and one of the members who spoke up for Amtrak. Johnson says the effort to squelch Amtrak support is petty.


“Well, I am outraged. I think it is unacceptable in a system where the free expression of ideas and particularly advocacy for one’s district is punished.”


Johnson and some of the other rebuked Republicans say they will continue to speak out for Amtrak. Last year, though, 32 House Republicans signed the Amtrak support letter. This year, there were only 21.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Charlie Schlenker.


(According to a news report, the Member of Congress who took
the action, Rep. Istook from Oklahoma, has since apologized and has said that he will do everything in his power to rectify the situation. You can read the report by following this link)

Related Links