Oil executives from five major companies head to Capitol Hill Tuesday to testify at a House hearing on industry safety as President Obama prepares to deliver remarks to a frustrated nation on the ongoing Gulf of Mexico oil crisis.
Oil execs appearing in front of the House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment include Rex Tillerson, chairman and chief executive officer, ExxonMobil; John Watson, chairman and chief executive officer, Chevron Corp.*; James Mulva, chairman and chief executive officer, ConocoPhillips; Lamar McKay, president and chairman, BP America Inc.; and Marvin Odum, president, Shell Oil Co.
On Thursday, BP CEO Tony Hayward and other BP executives will appear on Capitol Hill to answer questions about the ongoing Gulf oil crisis. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, released a series of e-mails and other key documents on alleged safety shortcuts.
White House officials also said Tuesday that Hayward would be in attendance at a meeting at the White House on Wednesday, as requested by President Obama.
It all comes as President Obama prepares to deliver remarks to the nation on the Gulf spill crisis in a prime-time address Tuesday from the Oval Office. The president will wrap up a two-day trip to the Gulf region midday Tuesday and fly back to Washington for the address.
In an interview with NPR, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the president will continue to press BP to create an escrow account to pay damage claims to those affected by the spill.
“They’re on the hook, just as million in the Gulf are on the hook for money that they may owe on a boat, money that they’re going to lose because they’re not fishing, or a hotel worker or hotel owner who’s watching reservations for the summer be canceled,” he said. “BP is a responsible party.”
Mike Allen of Politico writes of Tuesday’s address:
“The White House hopes the president’s Oval Office address at 8 p.m. ET will be a PIVOT — the moment the American people realize the president A) understands the challenges and B) has a clear plant to meet them. White House advisers acknowledge that if it doesn’t happen tonight, it probably never will.”
And The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder wonders whether the president will use the event to push an energy policy agenda:
“Aside from regulation, a strong confrontational tone against BP, and an acknowledgment of reality, the White House is remaining mum on whether the president will use the 20 minutes the networks have given him to call for — and push for — a comprehensive energy policy. One clue: Is the DNC’s Organizing for America readying an energy push?”
Tune in to the NewsHour Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET for special live coverage both on-air and online of President Obama’s Oval Office address. Check your local PBS listings for more information.
Updated at 11:30 a.m.:
Gen. David Petraeus, head of Central Command, briefly slumped over at a Senate hearing Tuesday morning, saying he became “light-headed” and was likely dehydrated. He and Michele Flournoy, the undersecretary of defense for policy, were testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee about operations in Afghanistan.
The hearing was adjourned until Wednesday. Lawmakers had called the hearing because they reportedly are concerned about several recent setbacks in U.S. and Afghan efforts to remove Taliban safe havens in the south.
“We anticipated that as we increased our resources in this effort, that it would be increasingly difficult as well,” said Denis McDonough, the chief of staff of the National Security Council, reported the Washington Post.
Unrest continues in Kyrgyzstan, with the Red Cross reporting that “several hundred” people are dead in the renewed violence.
The Associated Press reports Tuesday that the United Nations and the European Union urged Kyrgyzstan not to let riots throw planned constitutional changes and parliamentary elections off track.
The New York Times reports that aid is trickling into the embattled city of Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s second largest city, four days after apparent ethnic riots gripped the region. Approximately 100,000 people fled toward Kyrgyzstan’s border with Uzbekistan on Monday, most were minority Uzbeks desperate to escape the wave of bloodshed.
*For the record, Chevron is a NewsHour underwriter.