U.S. lawmakers berated BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward at a hostile congressional hearing Thursday, accusing him of evasion and ducking responsibility for the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
In his first appearance before Congress since the start of the 59-day-old crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, a tired-looking Hayward sat alone at the witness table as lawmakers lambasted BP’s handling of the spill, which caused an environmental disaster along the U.S. Gulf coast.
“Under your leadership BP has taken the most extreme risks,” Democratic lawmaker Henry Waxman told Hayward, who sat impassively during the lawmakers’ opening 90-minute barrage.
“BP cut corner after corner to save a million dollars here and a few hours or days there,” Waxman said, his comments reflecting public anger over BP’s handling of the crisis.
Hayward, a 53-year-old geologist with a reputation for blunt speaking, kept largely to a well-rehearsed brief and repeatedly declined to go into detail pending the results of investigations into the spill. He said it was too early to conclude the company had cut corners.
Waxman snapped back, saying, “You are not taking responsibility. You are kicking the can down the road.”
Several lawmakers said they were frustrated by Hayward’s answers and accused him of being evasive. The Briton repeatedly said he was not involved in the decision-making about the equipment and methods used to dig the well.
As well as congressional inquiries, BP faces a criminal investigation and lawsuits. reuters