TAPPER: I just have a couple more questions. Just a few months ago, a BP executive protested proposed new safety regulations for oil rigs, writing to the government that quote, "while BP is supportive of companies having a system in place to reduce risks, accidents, injuries and spills, we are not supportive of extensive proscriptive regulations." Will BP continue to fight and lobby against safety regulations?
MCKAY: Well, I would characterize the letter you're talking about slightly differently. That letter was in response to the government's request for input on safety regulations that the MMS was looking at. The rest of the letter actually recommends improvements and specific recommendations around safety regulations should they choose to change them. So we're not fighting anything about safety. Safety is the number one priority. We're going to figure out what happened here, and that is going to help the MMS and help ourselves and help the industry get safer, so we're not fighting anything about safety.
TAPPER: All right, last question, Mr. McKay. You had several fail/safe mechanisms on this rig, and they all failed. Since you don't yet know what caused this accident, will you stop all operations until you know? How can the American people trust that there won't be another explosion at another BP facility?
MCKAY: Well, we're working in conjunction with the government on understanding everything we can understand as quickly as we can. We're not going to do anything that we think is unsafe. We're doing extra tests on various pieces of equipment to make absolutely sure they will work in the condition they're intended to work in.
We won't do any work if we don't think it can be carried out safely and without impact. But we are working very closely with the government in trying to understand this and see if there should be any changes quickly.
TAPPER: All right. Lamar McKay, thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate your time.
MCKAY: Thank you.
TAPPER: And we're now joined by a powerhouse roundtable. As always, George Will, from the National Action Network, the Reverend Al Sharpton, from HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher," Bill Maher, former Bush adviser Matthew Dowd, and Katrina vanden Heuvel from The Nation.
Thanks, one and all.
George, I've heard some conservative critics say that this oil slick is President Obama's Katrina. Is it?
WILL: No. It might come as a news bulletin to the president himself, but he's not responsible for everything, and bad things happen. This is a reality check for a nation that's ravenous for energy and has to be and always has been. Getting our sources of energy has risks.
The Exxon Valdez called our attention to the fact that it's very dangerous shipping oil across the surface of the ocean. Since the Exxon Valdez, there have been seven larger tanker spills. You can go up to West Virginia, where 29 miners are being mourned today, and they will tell you about the risks of mining coal. No one says stop mining coal because of this.
TAPPER: Reverend, some critics -- not just from the right -- are saying that the Obama administration was slow. The New York Times editorial board faulted the Obama administration. Is that unfair criticism?