Cross-posted from the Wonk Room.
Last week, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) defended the inclusion of expanded offshore drilling in the climate bill he will unveil tomorrow, brushing off the deadly Gulf disaster by saying that “accidents happen:”
There were good reasons for us to put in offshore drilling, and this terrible accident is very rare in drilling. I mean, accidents happen. You learn from them and you try not to make sure they don’t happen again.
Today, Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), chair of the Senate energy committee, rebuked this attempt to excuse the BP oil disaster as an unforeseeable anomaly. Bingaman’s committee today began the Congressional investigation of the April 20 Deepwater Horizon explosion in a hearing with executives of the companies involved — BP, Halliburton, and rig owner Transocean. Bingaman noted that this disaster is a failure of technology, people, and regulations, not just an “accident” that was, as BP claimed, an unforeseeable mechanical failure:
At the heart of this disaster are three interrelated systems — a technological system of materials and equipment, second, a human system of persons who operated the technological system, and third, a regulatory system. Those interrelated systems failed in a way that many have said was virtually impossible. We need to examine closely the way each of these systems failed to do what it was supposed to do. I don’t believe it’s enough just to label this catastrophic failure as an unpredictable and unforeseeable occurence. I don’t believe it’s adequate to simply chalk what happened up to a view that accidents do happen. If this was like other catastrophic failures of other technological systems in recent history — whether it was the sinking of the Titanic, Three Mile Island, or the loss of the Challenger — we will likely discover there was a cascade of failures and technical and human and regulatory errors.
After fighting off stricter safety regulations and failing to prepare for a major blowout, BP ludicrously described the disaster as “inconceivable” and “unprecedented.”
The final draft of the climate bill, which Lieberman was devising with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), will be unveiled tomorrow without Graham’s involvement. After a political squabble with Sen. Harry Reid, Graham has said that the Senate should not consider comprehensive energy reform until the oil disaster is resolved.