OTR Interviews

Gov. Barbour: Escrow Makes BP Less Able to Pay What They Owe

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 15, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: For the first time ever, President Obama addresses the nation from the Oval Office, the president speaking about the oil spill.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've directed BP to mobilize additional equipment and technology, and in the coming weeks and days, these efforts should capture up to 90 percent of the oil leaking out of the well. This is until the company finishes drilling a relief well later in the summer that's expected to stop the leak completely.

Now, mobilization of this speed and magnitude will never be perfect and new challenges will always arise. I saw and heard evidence of that during this trip. So if something isn't working, we want to hear about it. If there are problems in the operation, we will fix them.

We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused. Tomorrow, I will meet with the chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company's recklessness. And this fund will not be controlled by BP. In order to ensure that all legitimate claims are paid out in a fair and timely manner, the account must and will be administered by an independent third party.


VAN SUSTEREN: Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour joins us live. Good evening, Governor.

GOV. HALEY BARBOUR, R-MISS.: Good evening, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, are you satisfied that the president has a good, smart plan to clean up this spill and to make sure it doesn't happen again?

BARBOUR: Look, Greta, nobody's going to be satisfied with anything that's been done until the well's capped. We're now eight weeks into this, the well's not capped, so nobody's satisfied. In fact, I thought it was interesting, instead of talking about capping the well today, the president talked about putting a new cap-and-trade tax on the American people that's going to run up the cost of energy. I mean, we don't want to make American energy more expensive and we sure don't need a cap-and-trade tax. What we need is to cap this well.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, I have a little audio problems, I must confess. But let me ask you about tomorrow's meeting with the president with the BP officials. What is it that you want to hear him ask and discuss tomorrow?

BARBOUR: Well, look, BP is responsible to pay for everything. If BP is the responsible party under the law, they're to pay for everything. I do worry that this idea of making them make a huge escrow fund is going to make it less likely that they'll pay for everything. They need their capital to drill wells. They need their capital to produce income so that they can pay that income to our citizens in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, and to pay for all the damages done. BP needs to pay, is supposed to pay, must pay every penny. But this escrow bothers me that it's going to make them less able to pay us what they owe us. And that concerns me.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, what would you say to the people of Britain, especially the pensioners, the people who are waiting for the dividend come this summer, that over $10 billion dividend that they want out of BP? Should BP hold that back or not? And what do you say to those people in Britain?

BARBOUR: Well, I say this. BP's responsible to pay all the costs. They are the responsible party. They should pay all the costs. But at this stage, while the payments are not coming as fast as we'd like from BP or from the SBA or the federal government or anybody else, the fact is, they are saying that they have the ability to pay and that they will pay. So it bothers me to talk about causing an escrow to be made, which will -- which makes it less likely that they'll make the income that they need to pay us.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, how were the conversations you had with the president? What did you walk away from those conversations thinking?

BARBOUR: Well, you know, the president and I disagree on this escrow fund. We very strongly disagree on the moratorium. Thirty percent of American oil is produced in the Gulf of Mexico, and about 80 percent of that is produced in deep water, not shallow water. We shut down the Gulf of Mexico, people worry about it costing jobs in a gulf state. Sure it will. But they ought to also worry about the effect the reduction on American production of oil means that we're going to import more oil, not less. The cap-and-trade tax means we're going to make oil more expensive, not less.

And frankly, because BP is a big producer of oil in Alaska, if they don't have money to keep drilling, we're going to have to worry about not only the money they're supposed to pay us because they may not be making it, but again, a reduction in American oil.

I'm somebody who believes that we need as energy policy all of the above, more American energy, oil, gas, coal, nuclear. And yes, ma'am, we need to do things with renewables, and my state is being a leader in that. My state's being a leader in carbon capture and sequestration so that we can have clean coal production of energy.

But the things the president's talked about are steps to me in the absolute wrong direction that will drive the cost of energy through the ceiling. But remember, Greta, in 2008, President Obama, then Senator Obama, told The San Francisco Chronicle, Under my cap-and-trade plan, electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket. That's true. His energy secretary he put in charge of this disaster, Secretary Chu, said in 2008, What we really need in America is to get the price of gasoline up to where it is in Europe.

Well, we don't need that in Mississippi. Four-dollar gas brought us to our knees in 2008. But what he's proposing here is a formula to make energy in America much more expensive and to make us even more reliant on foreign oil because we'll be producing less in the United States. I don't agree with that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, thank you, and I hope you'll come back and we'll continue to talk because, certainly, your state certainly has been hit by this very hard. Thank you, Governor, sir.

BARBOUR: Thank you, Greta.

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