What About Bob?

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Today marks six months since the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon, an event that caused oil to gush into the Gulf of Mexico for nearly three months. Half a year later, we neither have a definitive answer about what caused the disaster, nor, as Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) points out, have we even heard from the company’s new CEO, Bob Dudley.

Dudley officially took over as CEO on October 1. Markey, chair of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has sent multiple requests for Dudley to appear before Congress over the past few months, to no avail so far. Tony Hayward, Dudley’s gaffe-prone predecessor, made a rather unproductive appearance before the committee in June. Dudley’s appointment is supposed to reassure the American public that things are changing at BP, but he’s so far found it impossible to make time to talk to Congress.

“Given the limited time available, I will need to focus my attention on ensuring a smooth and effective transition into the Chief Executive role and will therefore unfortunately be unavailable to attend the hearing,” Dudley wrote to Markey in response to his last request for an appearance.

Markey isn’t particularly pleased about the slight. “Six months ago, BP’s Macondo well began its months-long eruption into the Gulf of Mexico,” said Markey in a statement. “Now that Mr. Dudley has taken the reins of BP, he can at least dedicate a few hours to answering questions about his company’s efforts to clean up the Gulf region and prevent future incidents.”

It’s probably worth noting yet again that the National Oil Spill Commission—the bipartisan panel that the Obama administration created to investigate the spill and recommend how to move forward with offshore drilling—still lacks the ability to compel folks like Dudley to testify. The House passed legislation granting the power of subpoena to the commission nearly unanimously, but Senate Republicans have blocked the bill in the upper chamber. Thus, the panel (which has released some scathing draft reports to date) still remains largely toothless when it comes to forcing key players to testify and produce crucial documents.

So, six months after the disaster began, BP is still effectively avoiding scrutiny.

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FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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