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BP Chief Pressed on Rotary Clean-up Tech in an iPhone Age

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, June 15 2010

During today's House hearing on the BP oil spill, Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) challenged BP America's CEO on a boast he issued before Congress last year that "today's off-shore drilling technology bears about as much resemblance to what was available in the 1960s as a rotary dial telephone does to an iPhone."

"That was a very interesting comparison," noted Capps drily to BP's Lamar McKay. "Let's look at it."

Capps then proceeded to display a photo of the oil containment boom used during a late-1960s oil spill off of the coast of Santa Barbara, followed by one of boom being deployed along the Gulf coast today, some forty years later. A shot of workers mopping up oil after that California spill was followed by one of a bare-handed worker scooping up a giant oil globe that had reached the Gulf shoreline as a result of the BP breach.

"Do you see a big difference?," asks Capps.

McKay pushed back, arguing that the oil industry has invested in advancements in oil clean-up and containment technologies in the last decades that aren't captured in Capps' photo display, such as satellite imagery used to determine where to best place boom.

Here's the clip.

(Thanks, Karoli, for the mention of the exchange that sent me looking.)