BP Chief's Denial of Blame Enrages Lawmakers

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WASHINGTON -- British Petroleum CEO Tony Hayward told Congress on Thursday that he was "devastated", "distraught" and "deeply sorry" for the Gulf oil spill. But that wasn't enough for lawmakers on Capitol Hill, who subjected the oil tycoon to an intense grilling.

Still, the congressional barbeque resulted in little more than a chance for lawmakers to vent.

BP Stops Short of Admitting Blame

Friday marked 60 days of the disaster in the Gulf. So far, 52 miles of shoreline have been affected, and as much as 2.5 million gallons of oil will have gushed out of BP'S breached well by the end of the day.

Hundreds of miles away on Capitol Hill, Hayward told lawmakers he was "deeply sorry" for the accident, but wasn't willing to admit blame.

With new clean-up estimates of the oil spill now at more that $100 billion, it is the Gulf's poor and hungry who are paying the price. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, joined the June 18 edition of the CBN Newschannel's Midday program to talk more about how Americans can help the downtrodden victims of the region.

Click play for those comments.

Also, click here for Gordon Robertson's comments on the oil spill crisis from the June 18 edition of The 700 Club.

"There is no evidence of reckless behavior," Hayward said.

BP's CEO received a tongue lashing from both sides of the aisle.

"I feel physically sick when I see the clips of oil gushing into the Gulf," Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Ohio, said.

"I think the buck stops on your desk," Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., added.

But BP's chief executive didn't offer details and wasn't willing to speculate, saying he wasn't the one on the ground making decisions.

"I'm not a---I'm not a cement engineer, I'm afraid," Hayward told the panel.

"But you're the CEO of the company," Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, interjected.

"With respect sir, we drill hundreds of wells a year all around the world," Hayward responded.

"Yes, I know," Burgess shot back. "That's what's scaring me right now."

Congressman Apologizes to BP

Meanwhile, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, created his own firestorm by apologizing to Hayward.

Barton said he was sorry for what he called a White House "shakedown" to create a $20 billion compensation fund for victims of the spill.

The move outraged the administration, Democrats and Republicans. Barton later apologized for offering his apology.

As tempers flared in Washington, Louisiana's Gov. Bobby Jindal expressed some outrage as well after bureaucratic paperwork kept eight oil cleaning barges from doing crucial cleanup work for an entire day and night.

"They literally watched that oil instead of being able to pick it up," Jindal said. "They had the equipment to pick it up and they weren't allowed to do so."

While Jindal and others waded through the bureaucratic muck, thousands of oil rig workers hunted for jobs cleaning up the spill. They've been temporarily laid off after President Obama's six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling.

The oil industry provides some of the highest paying jobs in the Gulf region, and oil rig workers say the shutdown will only compound grief along the Gulf.

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CBN News
Jennifer Wishon

Jennifer Wishon

CBN News White House Correspondent

Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.