Stopping the Oil Leak: BP Faces Credibility Crisis

As BP tries new tack, Republicans blame Obama for slow response.

May 30, 2010, 5:34 PM

WASHINGTON, May 30, 2010— -- After BP couldn't kill what it now calls "the beast" -- the leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico -- the company is facing a credibility problem. Is there any reason to believe it can achieve its next proposed solution, capping the well?

"I have no confidence whatsoever in BP. I think that they do not know what they are doing," Rep. Edward Markey said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation."

The Massachusetts Democrat has been one of the biggest critics of the oil company, which on Saturday admitted its high stakes "top kill" operation was a failure. Unable to stop the flow, BP is going to try again to contain the spill by lowering a cap over the well after they cut off the leaking pipe.

Markey said he is skeptical.

"BP has been making it up as they go along the whole way. They have not been prepared. They do not know for sure what the result is going to be of anything which they are doing," he said.

Many of BP's claims have proven false during the six weeks since an explosion on Deepwater Horizon drilling rig led to what is expected to be the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

For days, when BP was asked about its estimate that only 5,000 barrels a day were leaking was low, the company said the amount spewing from the well was less important than the effort to stop the spill. It turned out the rate is three times what the company said, 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day, according to an independent panel.

"BP has a financial interest in these numbers. They will pay penalties at the end of the day, a per-barrel, per-day penalty," Carol Browner, the president's energy adviser said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

BP's credibility problem has grown as the slicks covering the gulf waters have spread. The company refused to provide live video from a mile underwater until the White House intervened. The failed "top-kill" effort was expected to take 12 hours. It lasted for days.

In May, the BP C.E.O. claimed the environmental impact from the spill would be "very modest."

With reports and documents showing BP knew there were problems with its well, lawmakers, especially those from Louisiana, are fed up.

"Certainly, something went way wrong with the event and certainly it seems that BP made enormous mistakes and probably cut corners," said Sen. David Vitter, R-La., on CNN's "State of the Union."

BP Takes Out Full-Page Sunday Advertisement

BP Managing Director Bob Dudley fired back on ABC's "This Week."

"I think those are statements that an investigation needs to go through and look at," he said. "Cutting corners is not the way I describe how we do our business."

The company is trying to stop the public relations beating it is taking with a full page ad Sunday in some national newspapers. It said: "We will make this right."

Some Republicans are trying to frame this as an Obama administration credibility problem.

When asked whether he agreed with Obama's claim that the government was doing everything it could, Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said Sunday on ABC News' "This Week": "I think there could have been a greater sense of urgency."

Vitter called the government's response "failure."

"There has been failure, particularly with the effort to protect our coast and our marsh. And that was the biggest topic of discussion in a very frank meeting we had with the president on Friday," he said on CNN's "State of the Union."

"The state and locals came up with a plan on emergency dredging barrier islands well over two weeks ago. For over two weeks, the [Army Corps of Engineers] and other federal agencies dragged their feet. Then, they approved moving forward with 2 percent of that plan," Vitter said.

Browner defended the administration on NBC.

"The president has been in control from the beginning. The rig fell on April 22nd. A number of us joined the president in the Oval Office that evening to fully brief him," Browner said. "Since that time he's been up to date, current. He knows what's going on. He's in charge.

"We obviously have Admiral [Thad] Allen, the incident commander -- the national incident commander who is watching this on an hour-by-hour basis. I'm the point person in the White House. But we also have our cabinet fully deployed; everybody from Homeland Security, to DOD, to the EPA, to Interior, to NOAA. This is -- as I said -- this is a very, very large disaster. And we are deploying all of our resources."

Last week, Obama said he would take responsibility for stopping the oil leak.

"I ultimately take responsibility for solving this crisis. I'm the president and the buck stops with me," he said Friday.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events