Special Reports

Buchanan sparks BP probe

A request from U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, for an investigation into why British Petroleum received a waiver from conducting a detailed environmental impact report at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico was granted Thursday by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

“Why did they get an exemption? It clearly needs to be looked at,” Buchanan told the Herald by phone Thursday night.

The Washington Post reported this week that the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) exempted BP’s Gulf drilling operation from the impact analysis in 2009 after three reviews of the area concluded a massive spill was unlikely.

In a letter dated May 6, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. and ranking member, wrote Buchanan: “After receiving your letter, I spoke with Chairman (Rep. Edolphus) Towns (D-N.Y.) and we both share your concerns. ... (We) agreed that the committee should begin an investigation and hold a hearing into the circumstances that led to the disaster, including any failure by the Minerals Management Service (MMS) to take proper safety precautions.”

Buchanan expects the investigation to begin by mid-month.

“There’s plenty of time to assess blame, but I want to make sure that it wasn’t some kind of a special deal. It doesn’t make any sense,” he said.