DeGette joins House panel at La. hearings on spill, decries human toll
June 8, 2010
By: Joey Bunch
U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette said the sight of miles of Louisiana marshes coated in oil and the dank smell of crude in the humid air might pale next to the human cost of the disaster.
"This is a massive environmental disaster that we are really going to be living with and dealing with for many years to come," said the Denver Democrat, reached Monday on her cellphone in New Orleans after a day of hearings by a special House oversight and investigations subcommittee in Louisiana.
The group heard from the widows of two men killed when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded April 20.
From real estate brokers to fishermen, business people told the committee about the blow to their livelihoods and what they described as an inadequate response from oil giant BP so far, she said.
"What we heard is fisherman are getting $5,000 a day at a time of year they would normally be making $26,000 a day," DeGette said. "We're really going to have to hold BP's feet to the fire and make sure businesses are adequately compensated."
One businessman told the committee he would have to apply for another government loan to get by, like the one he applied for after Hurricane Katrina nearly five years ago. DeGette said neither businesses nor the government should foot the bill for BP's missteps.
DeGette, vice chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, said that while she supports development of domestic energy, government oversight has to be better than it was in this case.
She repeated her statement from the hearing earlier in the day in Chalmette, La.: "Hurricane Katrina was a perfect storm for Mother Nature. But this crisis was a manmade perfect storm. It was a breakdown that could have been prevented by safer practices by BP and its contractors and robust oversight by the Minerals Management Service."