WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Key U.S. lawmakers investigating the BP Plc oil spill have asked major energy companies for information on their response plans after it was discovered some companies’ plans had errors including protecting species that don’t live in the Gulf of Mexico.
In a hearing earlier this month, U.S. Representatives Henry Waxman and Edward Markey, both Democrats, blasted major oil company executives for “virtually worthless” and “cookie cutter” plans to handle a deepwater oil spill.
On Monday, they wrote a letter to the chief executives of Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell seeking more information about their plans.
“No oil company appears to be better prepared for a disastrous oil spill than BP was,” they wrote in the letter to the executives. “Each of the oil companies’ oil spill response plans are practically identical to the tragically flawed BP oil spill response plan,” they wrote.
The lawmakers said in the hearing on June 15 that company response plans included references to protecting walruses and other animals that do not live in the Gulf of Mexico in the event of an oil spill.
Markey had blasted the companies for mentioning walruses — which have not been found in the Gulf of Mexico for millions of years — in their plans and for including the name and phone number of a specialist who died in 2005.
The lawmakers asked the companies to say if their response plans would protect the region from an undersea blowout similar to the one at BP’s well. It also asked them where they would expect to get equipment in case of a spill, whether they will update their response plans and when.
Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Marguerita Choy