As he prepares to head the House Science Committee, Ralph Hall (R-TX) enthusiastically recalls the BP Gulf Oil Spill:
“As we saw that thing bubbling out, blossoming out – all that energy, every minute of every hour of every day of every week – that was tremendous to me. That we could deliver that kind of energy out there – even on an explosion.”
11 rig workers were killed in the platform explosion that set about the underwater oil spill that became one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S history and the second largest oil spill ever. An estimated 200,000 gallons of oil leaked into the gulf, the full longterm environmental impact of which has yet to be understood.
Not surprisingly, the Republican Congressman from Texas is a large beneficiary of financial support from the oil industry. According to the website Sourcewatch.com:
Ralph Hall has received $78,199 in oil contributions during the 110th congress. $53,999 of those dollars were from industry PACS. In total, Hall has accepted $307,930 from oil companies between 2000 and 2008, which makes him one of the largest recipients of oil money.
Hall’s bizarre comments on the eve of becoming chairman is just the latest of several committee chairs in the upcoming Republican controlled House who have expressed suspicious affection for the industries that they will nominally be charged with regulating.
On December 13th, incoming Financial Services Chairman Spencer Bachus infamously said that the government should serve big banks, not regulate them:
“In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks.”
I’d have to be pretty naive to think that past chairmen of important committees from both parties haven’t been this deferential to the industries they are tasked with overseeing. But I don’t think that these sorts of things were ever so openly admitted in public.
Perhaps gaffes like these circulate quicker and more widely because of the internet. But I suspect it’s because this class of Republican leadership is so much more conservative then we’ve seen before. I’m not judging here–well, maybe a little–but I think that Rep. Hall truly cares more about all that precious oil than he does about the suffering that the explosion and subsequent oil spill caused. And in his mind, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
In either case I’ll post an update when Hall inevitably tries to walk back his remarks.