Gulf Coast Oil Spill Disaster: Follow the Culture of Incompetence

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 13, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Congressman Bart Stupak says a culture of incompetence exists at BP. Yes, oil is still pouring into the Gulf of Mexico right now. It is a disaster and it is not getting better.

BP may be incompetent. Who else is? We went to Capitol Hill and Congressman Stupak went "On the Record."


VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, nice to see you, sir.

REP. BART STUPAK, D-MICH.: Nice to see you.

VAN SUSTEREN: The BP hearings, you have been quoted as saying and describing what is going on with BP Transocean and Halliburton is a "culture of incompetence." Why?

STUPAK: Well, even BP's own internal report indicates that they have a culture in which they ignore risk and they accept noncompliance. And they sort of reward incompetent behavior on behalf of their people. It is their own report they are talking about ignoring risk, accepting noncompliance and rewarding incompetence.

And you see all the factors. It has been three years our committee has been on BP. Everything from the 2005 Texas City explosion which 15 people were killed, 170 were injured, all the way to the north slope where we had largest oil spill on the north slope in 2006.

And every year after there's event after event after event for simple things, like a gentleman was crushed last November between his truck and the Alaskan pipeline. That's just sloppy work in which people are getting killed.

And now you have this oil spill, and what do we have -- 11 people killed there. Other people hurt. Now we're looking at this great ecological disaster washing up on our Gulf coast. Why? Because someone didn't check the batteries, didn't check the valve fittings, because the blowout preventer was wired wrong. The fail safe system didn't work.

Even though they continued to tell the American people and the Mineral Management Service, everything will be fine. We've got everything under control. We've got all these redundancies built in. The redundancies weren't turned on, the batteries were dead, it didn't work. It's just incompetence.

VAN SUSTEREN: I got it that BP is incompetent and this has been going on for a number of years. But we have MMS, whose specific job is to make sure, one of them, is that safety regulations are met. Where were they on this?

STUPAK: They are asleep at the wheel.

VAN SUSTEREN: So if this has been going on for three years, why should we be surprised, and why didn't someone do something before now?

STUPAK: About two years ago MMS was caught up in a scandal with the oil companies. The Mineral Manage Service folks were supposed to monitor who collects royalties allows permit caught up new a scandal with the oil companies with kickbacks and sexual favors and everything else that went on that was discovered in 2008.

And that's why President Obama has indicated, and I think he's right, let's split it up.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why did we wait so long? Why did we wait for a catastrophe? If this happened a couple of years ago, and if MMS has the job to oversee it -- I understand BP's negligence and their culture of incompetence as you describe it, but what is stunning is that MMS didn't do its job. And even Congress knew MMS was not doing its job.

And now we're three years down the road in terms of a series of red flags now we have the worst disaster.

STUPAK: You're right. I think blame goes all around. Should Congress have done something in 2008? It wasn't before our committee or something would have been done.

The Natural Resources Committee has jurisdiction over MMS. But we might start asserting jurisdiction and say what the heck is going on here? What is the test they should have you done that they claimed they did but no one knows what the test is?

Shouldn't part of your testing on these blow-out preventers at least check the batteries every time you use it? They get the well drilled and take them off and bring them to another job. Shouldn't they test them to make sure the wiring is proper, no leaking valves, to make sure the batteries work?

That's common sense, and I think that's what is probably lacking is just some common sense.

VAN SUSTEREN: Heads should roll at BP. Heads should roll at MMS?

STUPAK: You have to throw Transocean in too.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, Transocean, Halliburton, but how about MMS?

STUPAK: MMS, what about it?

VAN SUSTEREN: Heads should roll there, we should clean house, maybe?

STUPAK: Absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: What about the committee whose responsibility it is to oversee that MMS is doing its job vis-a-vis BP, Halliburton, and Transocean? What about those committees?

STUPAK: Were they, and this is a question, I don't know -- were they in fact looking at MMS to break it up since the 2008 debacle.

VAN SUSTEREN: Beyond breaking it up, shouldn't they have been asking questions, MMS, are you checking the safety of BP, Halliburton, Transocean? Are you doing your job?

STUPAK: That's a question that should be asked, and if it is not asked by another committee I will certainly ask it, because we'll have more hearings on this Gulf spill. It is not over with yet.

And there are a number of things. If you take a look at the application, they are drilling an exploratory well, which is different from a working with well. There are different rules and regulations.

It all has to be looked at very closely. I'm glad the administration said let's put a pause on anymore drilling until we have a chance to examine what went wrong here.

If there's a silver lining here I hope we learn from this tragic incident, people dying and the ecological disaster we are looking at and learn from it and put in some rules that will be enforced not only by private companies who are trying to cap our own natural resources in this country, but also by the government, including the federal government.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did you have any confidence in the very near future new oil is -- the leak is going to be plugged up or stopped?

STUPAK: No. I think you have to you drill the relief wells to finally get it to stop. The top hat they are talking about is pretty dangerous. You have to remove -- or add another blowout preventer. As you do, you could you create a greater gusher than what you have right now.

And this junk shot they're talking about, I don't have a lot of confidence in that, but I'm not an engineer, so maybe it will work. I hope and pray they could stop it right now, today, because the ecological damage to our seafood industry, tourism to that Gulf is going to be tremendous.


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