Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (MD-07), a senior member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a request to Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) on August 30, requesting that, in his role as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Domestic Policy, Rep. Kucinich convene a hearing to examine questions surrounding the extent of the oil that remains in the Gulf of Mexico following the spill from the BP Macondo well-site, as well as the adequacy of current government and private industry efforts to assess the danger that remnant oil in the waters of the Gulf poses to the environment and to the seafood harvested from the Gulf.
Cummings believes that statements by BP, government officials and scientists regarding oil remaining in the Gulf and related issue need further clarification. In the letter, Cummings said, “Federal officials have claimed that as much as three-quarters of the oil that spilled into the Gulf has been ‘cleaned up or chemically dispersed, or naturally deteriorated, evaporated or dissolved,’ [while] other media reports indicate that scientists have found extensive plumes of oil lingering below the water’s surface.”
He continued, “I believe it is imperative that Congress address legitimate public confusion and concern about the extent of the oil remaining in the Gulf. . . Further, we should examine the extent of current research efforts intended to assess long-term damage to the environment caused by the oil spill, such as by correlating exposure to petroleum with specific DNA alterations in aquatic flora and fauna.”
Finally, Cummings is deeply concerned that BP is apparently requiring scientists under contract to the firm to sign confidentiality agreements that compel the scientists to withhold the release of their research findings. To answer these allegations, Cummings expressly requested that BP officials be called to testify.