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.
"What I'm outlining in the op-ed piece is the fact that anybody should expect that these prosecutions are going to be very, very aggressive, and that there are a number of people are in the line of fire, that may not anticipate or appreciate that they're in the line of fire."
Ed: "OK, in fact they had some problems enforcing subpoenas when they were having hearings in Louisiana. That's the reason for Houston right?"
"That is one of the reasons for Houston and they're additional people that they want to question that apparently contend they are more accessible or more appropriately questioned in Houston."
Cogdell notes that attorneys are complaining about what testimony should be allowed and what documents should be made available for review.
"Well, they need to be very guarded in what they say because (it) may very well be the worse thing they can do, to set forth their positions far in advance of the charges being filed. And the executives and the individuals involved or being questioned probably better be thinking about their own backside as well as towing the corporate line. In environmental prosecutions, there's the Responsible Corporate Officers Doctrine. You can be found guilty of environmental offenses even if you didn't do anything wrong, if you simply had the authority to stop it."
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.