There have been three other public hearings, but this is the first to take place in Houston. Previous testimony revealed there were warning signs about dangerous conditions before the blowout. There are unanswered questions about the blowout preventer, which failed to seal off the well. Houston attorney Dan Cogdell had an op-ed piece in the Houston Chronicle this weekend, saying that the legal artillery may be even more formidable that what was seen in the Enron trial. A number of witnesses have declined to appear.
"Most people have the concern that's certainly understandable that if they don't testify or if they don't cooperate then their accuser might well draw an adverse inference from that. But it may very well be the worst thing they can do to set forth their positions far in advance of the charges being filed.”
Cogdell says prosecutors want blood.
"These environmental prosecutors are very aggressive. There's tremendous pressure to seek charges on individuals, and not just a few individuals, but a lot of individuals."
The U.S. Coast Guard and the Bureau of Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement is conducting the investigation, trying to uncover what caused the April 20th explosion on the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon rig that let 206 million gallons of oil pour into the Gulf. The hearings continue through Friday.