Lobbying by 'big oil' contributed to Gulf spill, says Fla. senator

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) on Sunday said lobbying efforts by influential oil corporations led to lacking regulations that contributed mightily to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Big oil has had its way among the regulators; there’s been a cozy relationship between the regulators and [the Minerals Management Service],” he told CNN. "You remember all those stories back in the mid part of this past decade. Sex parties, all kinds of trips."

ADVERTISEMENT
Nelson also said efforts to hold congressional hearings to strengthen oversight of the industry were repeatedly thwarted by oil interests.

“That is what a number of us have been calling for and we could never get to first base because big oil would flex its muscle and call in its votes and we could never get anything done,” Nelson said. “Tragically, it’s going to take this disastrous oil spill to finally clamp down on them.”

Nelson appeared on CNN’s "State of the Union" with Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).


Shelby acknowledged that oil companies had some influence on the regulation process, but said it wasn’t the role of Congress to control regulators.

“We’re not in charge of the regulators; we have oversight of the regulators,” he said. “The Executive branch is in charge of the regulators.”

Still, Shelby said hearings on the safety of oil drilling should have occurred before the spill.

“This should have been done long ago,” he said, adding, “We should never sacrifice safety: safety of our marine life, safety of our people – safety of everything to something done on the cheap. This [how BP drilled] was probably done to save money and look where we are today.”