This week, the world has heard a great deal about the work of the National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling explosion and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. What we hear from this commission, however, is only the evidence that lays at the surface, warns Fred Bartlit, chief counsel to the commission.
“Because I don’t have subpoena power, I have to look you in the eye and say I’m telling you what people told me. I can’t subpoena people and put them under oath. I wish I could. I think it’s damned important, but it’s the way it goes,” Bartlit told the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling this week.
Five months ago, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5481, introduced by Lois Capps. The legislation would have established subpoena power for the National Commission. Only one member of the House, Ron Paul, voted against the bill.
The Senate, upon receiving H.R. 5481, placed the legislation on its calendar and then… did nothing. Why? U.S. Representative Ed Markey, the chair of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, accuses Senate Republicans of blocking the bill.
“Every day that Senate Republicans block subpoena power for the independent commission is another day BP, Halliburton and Transocean can duck and dodge the panel’s hardest questions,” Markey said yesterday. “The commission has already shown its value, and Senate Republicans should stop protecting the companies responsible for the spill by preventing the pursuit of the truth in this disaster.”