By Ben Geman - 05/09/12 06:06 PM EDT
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) is suggesting that the Obama administration went easy on BP before the 2010 oil spill in return for a pledge to support cap-and-trade legislation.
Gohmert, questioning an Interior Department offshore drilling official at a hearing Wednesday, cited BP’s history of safety problems when asking about tougher federal oversight that has followed the Gulf of Mexico disaster.
“As far as I know, British Petroleum was the only operator in the Gulf Coast that was about to endorse the administration’s cap-and-trade bill and were negotiating for the big rollout of that endorsement at the very time Deepwater Horizon blew,” Gohmert told Tommy Beaudreau, who heads Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, referring to the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.
“Absolutely,” Beaudreau replied at the House Natural Resources Committee hearing. “Politics has nothing to do with our safety regime.”
“I don’t think you can honestly say that when Deepwater Horizon blew,” Gohmert, a member of the Tea Party Caucus, retorted.
The allegation of quid pro quos came during a hearing about Obama administration offshore oil-and-gas leasing plans.
Gohmert pivoted to another issue and did not discuss the alleged link further or offer evidence.
BP has supported the concept of cap-and-trade in the past but agreeing to legislative specifics have proven trickier for companies — including BP — willing to bless the overall idea.
The company was part of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a coalition of corporations and green groups calling for a cap-and-trade system. However, BP abandoned the group in February 2010.
Climate legislation is currently dead on Capitol Hill amid resistance from Republicans and fossil energy interests. The White House backed the cap-and-trade plan that passed the House in 2009, but never offered its own legislation.
In May 2010, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) floated a scaled-back climate bill that included concessions, such as fixed emissions allowance prices for oil refiners. But it did not gain enough traction and Democratic leaders shelved it without a vote.
This post was updated at 3:29 p.m.