WASHINGTON--Lawmakers accused BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward of evasion and ducking responsibility for the worst oil spill in U.S. history when he appeared before them on Thursday to answer charges his company cut corners on its blown-out Gulf of Mexico well.
In his first appearance before Congress since the start of the 59-day-old crisis, a tired-looking Hayward sat alone at the witness table as lawmakers took turns during more than three hours of questioning to lambaste the British energy giant.
"Under your leadership BP has taken the most extreme risks," Democratic lawmaker Henry Waxman told Hayward, who sat impassively during the lawmakers' barrage.
"BP cut corner after corner to save a million dollars here and a few hours or days there," Waxman said, his comments reflecting public anger over BP's handling of the crisis.
Hayward, a 53-year-old geologist with a reputation for blunt speaking, kept largely to a well-rehearsed brief and repeatedly declined to go into detail pending the results of investigations into the spill. He said it was too early to conclude the company had cut corners.
Waxman snapped back, saying, "You are not taking responsibility. You are kicking the can down the road."
Several lawmakers grew visibly annoyed by Hayward's answers, accusing him of evasion and telling him they were less interested in his expressions of regret and more concerned about finding out what had gone wrong.
The Briton said he had seen no evidence of reckless behavior and repeatedly said he was not involved in the decision-making about the methods used to dig the well. "I am not stonewalling," Hayward said at one point. … Read more