US & World

Santa Barbara Congresswoman Capps questions head of BP

Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA)
Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA)
Alex Wong/Getty Images

It was a tough day on Capitol Hill for executives from five oil companies. One congressman asked the head of BP to resign. A congresswoman from California tried a different approach: humor.

Last year, BP President Lamar McKay told Congress that today’s offshore drilling technology bears about as much resemblance to what was available in the 1960s as a rotary dial telephone does to an iPhone.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Democratic Rep. Lois Capps of California showed McKay a picture of a rotary phone and an iPhone. Then she displayed a picture of a boom used to control the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill and the kind BP is using in the Gulf of Mexico.

Capps asked McKay whether he saw "a big difference between the boom technologies used in these two pictures?"

McKay said he didn't see a big change in boom technology.

But he added that "there have been tremendous changes in technology and how boom is deployed in how satellite imagery helps deploy resources into the best possible places."

The head of ExxonMobil testified that the industry is not well equipped to handle a spill like the one in the Gulf. He said that's why companies try to prevent them from happening.