Lawmakers began grilling top executives of companies involved with the Gulf of Mexico’s massive oil spill yesterday, warning they would not let them blame each other for the unfolding environmental disaster.

Senate Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman opened the congressional hearing saying the oil rig explosion was likely due to a “cascade of errors, technical, human and regulatory.”

The Democrat called the spill a “catastrophic” failure of technological systems, comparable to the Titanic’s sinking, the meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant and the midair explosion of the Challenger space shuttle.


Lamar McKay, president of BP America Inc., Steven Newman, president of Transocean Ltd., and Tim Probert, a senior executive of Halliburton Co., sat in a row as they began their testimony, each one effectively blaming another for the explosion and failure to control the spill.

In a sign that the hearings could get heated later, a Republican on the committee warned the three men they would not get off the hook easily.

“Reading the written testimony for today’s hearing,” Sen. John Barrasso said, “I hear one message ‘don’t blame me.’ Well shifting this blame does not get us very far.”

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