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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Battling Over Oil Cleanup Efforts; BP Money Plan; BP CEO Heading to the Hill
Aired June 16, 2010 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. We are live from Louisiana on day 58 of the BP disaster.
Tonight, we are coming to you from the Fort Jackson Bird Rehabilitation Center, where those oiled pelicans are brought to be cleaned. We'll show you what's happening inside later tonight.
There's a lot to cover this evening, the president's face-off with BP executives and that $20 billion escrow account they have agreed to set up.
But we begin with something the chairman of BP said outside the White House. Tony Hayward, the CEO of BP, was there, but he doesn't talk publicly much anymore. Instead, today, the chairman of BP, Carl- Henric Svanberg, spoke to the company, expressing sadness to the country and sorrow about what's happened and promising to meet all of what he called their legitimate responsibilities.
But then he was asked a question about his impressions of the president. Listen to his response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL-HENRIC SVANBERG, CHAIRMAN, BP: He comes across as -- he is frustrated because he cares about the small people, and we care about the small people.
I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are -- are greedy companies or don't care. But that is not the case in BP. We care about the small people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: BP cares about the small people.
Now, it's entirely possible he just used the wrong word. It was probably just a mistake. Maybe he meant to say little people, though that would have been just as insulting. More likely, he wanted to say ordinary people.
Now, when he said this, a lot of people around here were understandably insulted. I gave him the benefit of the doubt. He's from Sweden. He's not a native English speaker. And, in fact, hours later, he issued an apology, saying he had spoken clumsily. That is certainly true.
It's also true that it's become almost common to have BP put out statements apologizing for or restating their own statements. But these things happen. People misspeak.
If by chance, though, the chairman of BP doesn't know this already, which I'm sure he does, we think it's worth mentioning. There aren't any small people here. In all the weeks and months that we have worked in Louisiana and in the Gulf since Katrina, we've never met any little people.
In the last month here, we have met shrimpers, and oystermen, homemakers and businesspeople, people whose lives are on hold or perched on a precipice because of this disaster.
We have met people who have been laid off and can't find new jobs and people who can't sleep at night because they're still waiting for checks from BP for claims they filed weeks ago.
In all our time here, we have not met any small people.
If I could interview Mr. Carl-Henric Svanberg, which I can't because they won't agree to come on this program, I would introduce him to some of the people we have met.
Sal Sunseri is not a small person, a little person, an ordinary person. He is one of the owners of P&J's, which is an oyster wholesaler in New Orleans. It's a family business. It's been around for more than 134 years. It's now ruined.
Nolan Guidry is not a small person. He's a shrimper in Golden Meadow, Louisiana. It's what he's done his entire life. He is out of work now; he doesn't know exactly what he'll do.
This is Shane Anslem (ph). He's not a small person either, but he is looking for a job in Grand Isle right now.
And this family is in need, but they are not small people either. They're waiting in line at New Orleans Catholic charities in Hopedale. The father is an unemployed commercial fisherman, one of many out of work.
BP cares about the small people. It was an unfortunate turn of phrase, and the chairman has apologized. And I'm not from here, and I don't pretend to speak for people here, but I have learned two things over the years of reporting from the Gulf.
The first is that people here don't want to be cared for. They can do that just fine for themselves. The second thing I've learned is that this is a land of hardworking people who, for generations, have carved out a living against great obstacles, conflicts, natural disasters, manmade catastrophes.
This is not a land of small people, of little people. This is a land of giants.
Joining me now are Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser and John Young, council chairman for Jefferson Parish.
Guys thanks very much for being with us.
BILLY NUNGESSER, PRESIDENT, PLAQUEMINES PARISH, LOUISIANA: Thank you.
JOHN YOUNG, COUNCIL CHAIRMAN, JEFFERSON PARISH: Thank you, good evening Anderson.
COOPER: You're very concerned today.
We went out earlier in the week with the governor. We looked at these barges. They've gotten six barges, basically put vacuum -- large kind of vacuum cleaner-type devices on them and were sucking up oil.
The Coast Guard today, according to the governor's office, actually shut down those barges. Those barges are now no longer operating. The Coast Guard says they didn't have certificates of inspection. They are going to get inspected by the Coast Guard tomorrow morning.
But this has got to, I mean, make your blood boil.
NUNGESSER: Man, it's just another way where the Coast Guard gets in the way, instead of helping.
What would have been wrong -- there were 12 Coast Guard guys in my office today. Why aren't they out there inspecting while they're working? If they don't have the right equipment, shut them down then. Shut them down for two to three days? It took us two weeks to get them approved.
COOPER: The Coast Guard says that the boats voluntarily pulled back their operations, and that they are going to get inspected tomorrow.
YOUNG: That -- that's just unbelievable, Anderson.
At this point in time, every day, every hour, every minute counts. This is just another example of the unmitigated failure that the federal government and the federal response has been to date.
COOPER: You're saying, if this was a war, this is no way to -- to operate a war.
YOUNG: If this was a war, as everyone said -- and even the President said last night that we're under siege -- if this was a war, we would be occupied territory by now. It's gone on two months.
COOPER: And you actually -- you guys have been buying up HVACs, those good things you can buy basically at like Home Depot.
COOPER: And we have some pictures, some still photos. You -- you actually had folks out on small boats today sucking up oil.
NUNGESSER: We'll be out there tomorrow. We ordered some that are air compressor out of Canada. We overnight and they will be here tomorrow. And we'll start picking up the oil.
We're not going to be shut down because the Coast Guard wants to inspect. We're not going to be shut down because we can't get approval.
As we said, this is a war. The President said it. We're not acting like it. Would we stop a tank and go check for a fire extinguisher if we're being shot at by the enemy? This oil is coming ashore every minute, every day.
COOPER: So, you're saying they should -- if they need to inspect, they should inspect it in the field while it's happening, and not try to --
YOUNG: Twenty-four/seven. This is a 24/7 operation. Inspect it while they're -- while they're doing their work.
I was on that barge yesterday in Bay Jimmy. And in addition to those tanks, they also had strapped on vacuum trucks, the same type of trucks you can see taking out porta-let excrement.
YOUNG: And it was working.
Every effective response that has happened to date has been at the hands of state and local government: the land bridge at Elmer's Island, the land bridge at East Grand Terre, the sand berm plan that Billy first brought forth, modified by David Carmadelle in Grand Isle and Jefferson Parish, with sinking the barges, driving the piles, and using rock jetties.
We can do this. We need the federal government to cut the red tape. We need the -- the President to exercise his executive authority and say, cut through the red tape. We don't have a minute to waste.
COOPER: How concerned are you about -- I mean, where are we in this thing? I mean, where do you -- where do you see this in terms of the cleanup operation?
NUNGESSER: I still can't look you in the eye and tell you I know who is in charge.
I know they say the Coast Guard. We went to a meeting in Houma. There was Coast Guard and BP there. And I honestly can't say who is in charge. I still -- and Thad Allen said I got somebody in my office, a real nice guy. Everything I ask him, he will check into.
I'm still waiting on a response from several things from Saturday. Told them I will give them a week. This Saturday, I want another meeting. I want answers. I want to know why it's taking two to three weeks to pick up oil, and how do we cut that timeline to two to three days? Two to three weeks is unacceptable.
If we're ordering equipment, if we're bringing it in from overseas, I don't care. But I want a plan, two to three days. If not, give us the money and we'll make it two to three days.
But, right now, the BP and the Coast Guard is a block from us getting it done. It's too difficult to get things approved.
COOPER: You're out on the water almost every day. I mean, are you seeing boom picked up in time and --
YOUNG: No, I'm not seeing enough manpower, enough equipment.
I was out there for three hours Friday afternoon. I saw a soft boom on a marsh island as if you were to crumple up toilet paper and just throw it on the island. It was crumpled up. It sat there. I saw hard boom surrounding Queen Bess Island, where these pelicans nest, and there was a big gap. And nobody was attending to it.
There's not enough equipment out there. There should be a flotilla of ships. There should be --
COOPER: Let me just play devil's advocate here, because, I mean, BP hasn't come on the program to speak for themselves. But let me just, you know, play devil's advocate to speak for them.
This is a huge operation and incredibly complex operation. They're -- they're working with a myriad of government agencies and -- and myriad of people on the water. It's a hard thing to organize.
NUNGESSER: They've got to do -- we gave them a five-point plan, fight it offshore, on the outer barrier island beaches, inland waterways, beaches and lakes, and then in the marsh. Those five teams have to be independent and be able to strike quickly when oil comes in.
Secondly, we've got to have zones. You can't run one team for the whole coast of Louisiana. This is my zone. I'm going to attack it if it comes in. It's not going to beat us in this zone. Put somebody in charge. Give him the equipment he needs, and let him get after it.
We offered I'll put a man out on the island, sleeping in a tent, running the crew, if they don't have the management power to do it.
But it's not getting done at any level, offshore, on the barrier islands, in the bays and marshes. We're losing the battle.
We were out there with the head of BP. We saw oil in the marsh, all across Barataria Bay, on the inside out, outside of the island, in the wake -- not one skimmer boat.
YOUNG: That was two weeks ago.
COOPER: That was two --
NUNGESSER: Not one skimmer boat.
YOUNG: Two weeks ago.
COOPER: How concerned are you -- are you -- what do you think about this escrow account now, that BP says they're going to set aside $20 billion?
YOUNG: It's a step in the right direction. It's a little bit little, little late, but it's a step in the right direction.
And I'm also concerned about the $100 million, because --
COOPER: A hundred million -- $100 million BP is going to set aside --
YOUNG: One hundred million for the moratorium --
COOPER: Moratorium, for workers laid off because of the moratorium --
YOUNG: The people who've lost their jobs because of the moratorium. Our state treasurer says, that will cover one month. It's woefully inadequate.
COOPER: Woefully inadequate.
YOUNG: Woefully inadequate.
NUNGESSER: Anderson, we today, in writing, we asked Saturday -- the dispersants were going to keep it offshore, keep it down. It's going to be eaten. That didn't happen. It came ashore under the surface.
I want somebody to tell me, if it didn't work, why don't we stop spreading the dispersant, let it come to the surface, and let's fight it where we can see it? Let's get every ship from around the country, around the world. Put them out there. And they said it's light. It will come to the surface.
Why do we keep spraying if it's not doing what it said it -- it will be ugly. It will be all over the top. It won't be pretty, but at least it will be where we can fight it.
Right now, it's coming ashore beneath the surface. We have it on the bottom of Barataria Bay. Those are the most precious oyster beds. It is literally sunk on the bottom with dispersant coating the bottom of that bay. Let us fight it offshore.
So, I want somebody to tell me why -- being it didn't do it said it was going to do, tell me why don't we stop spraying and fight it offshore, let it come to the top on that.
YOUNG: Can I say something about the dispersant?
YOUNG: That's another issue that the federal government should take -- come in, take over, and tell BP, don't use it anymore.
YOUNG: They have suggested that.
COOPER: BP sort of tried to do that. Then they really backed off.
YOUNG: BP owns 20 percent of the company that produces Corexit. It's banned in the United Kingdom. If it's not good enough for the United Kingdom, it's not good enough for us.
And the EPA should be the watchdog, not the lapdog, of BP. And -- but they're still using it, despite the fact that Lisa Jackson says --
COOPER: Where have you heard that, that they own 20 percent of it? Because I haven't heard that.
YOUNG: They're -- it's been reported in various news media.
COOPER: All right. We will double-check on that, because I haven't heard that myself.
YOUNG: Right, that they own 20 percent of the company that produces Corexit.
COOPER: Right, that owns Corexit.
All right. Well, we will have a look into that.
I appreciate you being on the program tonight.
YOUNG: Thank you so much.
COOPER: Good to have you on for the first time.
Good to see you again, Billy, as well. Take care.
YOUNG: Thank you.
NUNGESSER: Thank you.
COOPER: Billy Nungesser and John Young.
Join the live chat right now at AC360.com.
Coming up next: a closer look at BP's $20 billion fund to help pay claims. Is this good for the American people? We'll take a look at that. We're "Keeping Them Honest." Ed Henry has a report on that.
Also, the wildlife, what is happening with the -- the efforts to rescue birds? We'll show you how this rehabilitation center is treating the birds rescued from the oil, how they are being cleaned and how the people here are trying to save them -- when we continue live from Louisiana.
COOPER: Well, it was agreed to in advance, but the White House meeting with the guys running BP ended with a deal. BP said it would put $20 billion in escrow. The money would be used to pay out claims from the spill, pay the victims, fishermen, everyone devastated here.
The president said the $20 billion would not be controlled by the company or by the -- the President, but by what he called an independent third party.
A lot of questions raised by this deal, let's -- we're going to get to them in a moment, but, first, a closer look at the amount being set aside by BP. Will it be enough?
Ed Henry tonight is "Keeping Them Honest."
ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Does this man know something we don't? On his way out of the White House, BP CEO Tony Hayward looked pretty darn happy for someone whose company just forked over a huge chunk of money, which President Obama claimed was a major victory for the people of the Gulf.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This $20 billion will provide substantial assurance that the claims people and businesses have will be honored.
HENRY: But, "Keeping Them Honest," did BP pull one over on the White House? We asked one of the top experts from the Exxon Valdez disaster whether $20 billion will cover all the claims in the Gulf.
In a word: no.
ZYGMUNT PLATER, PROFESSOR OF ENVIRONMENTAL LAW, BOSTON COLLEGE LAW SCHOOL: Based on our experience in Alaska, where Exxon paid out $4.5 billion, remember, there were only 38,000 people there who were impacted. And, in the Gulf Coast, the equivalent population is between 3.5 and 6.5 million people. That's 100 times more. You do the math.
HENRY: Zygmunt Plater served as Chair of the Alaska Oil Spill Commission's legal task force. He said there is no doubt the President forcing $20 billion out of BP is a positive step forward.
PLATER: If you compare this to what the victims in Alaska had to suffer, in the last 48 hours, the situation has improved extraordinarily for the people in the Gulf. It means that they don't have to hassle rooms full of lawyers for every little claim dragged out over 20 years.
HENRY: But Plater and other experts warn $20 billion is probably just the start of what BP will have to pay victims, plus the billions of dollars in fines likely to be levied by the government, and billions more that could be awarded in court.
(on camera): Some think BP's liabilities could reach $60 billion, or even more.
So, what would happen then? The president insists that BP's payouts would continue past $20 billion. But the reality is nobody is sure how that would work.
And what about the speculation BP might just go bankrupt?
OBAMA: I'm absolutely confident BP will be able to meet its obligations to the Gulf Coast and to the American people. BP is a strong and viable company, and it is in all of our interests that it remains so.
HENRY (voice-over): It's especially in the interest of American taxpayers, who could be stuck with funding yet another huge bailout if BP doesn't survive.
Ed Henry, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Well, that, of course, is one of the big fears. Will taxpayers end up footing the bill and will be much more than $20 billion -- $20 billion? A lot of questions out there about this deal the President made.
With me now, Julia Reed, contributing editor for "Newsweek" magazine and the author of "The House on First Street: my New Orleans Story," and senior political analyst and former presidential adviser David Gergen.
David, what do you make of this deal? I mean, yesterday, you were critical of -- of the speech that President Obama made from the Oval Office, saying it basically kind of missed the mark. Did they find their footing today?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think they have continued to miss their mark on the cleanup. And Billy and others who you -- you -- have been very, very clear about that, that it's still not well-organized.
But, Anderson, I think this was the best single day the President has had since this spill began. This was a very solid step forward to get the $20 billion. You know, nobody thought -- I don't think many -- most people thought they would go that high.
BP, in the negotiations with the President, with the administration, said they would like to cut it off at $20 billion, and the President made clear, no, this is just the start. We're not setting any limit on it.
More -- and, very importantly, Anderson, they appointed a first- class person to run this as the independent party. Ken Feinberg, as you well know, did an excellent job in New York, trying to make sure that the -- that the victims' families were made whole in a fair way and in an expeditious way.
Chuck Schumer, the Senator from New York, very praising -- praising of Ken Feinberg. I think that's a classy choice and I think that's also a big step forward.
COOPER: Julia, how do you think -- how do you read it? How -- the people in New Orleans and elsewhere in Louisiana you talk to, how do they read it?
JULIA REED, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "NEWSWEEK": Well, I think, obviously, we would rather have $20 billion than not, but nobody thinks that this is the best-case scenario.
I mean, one of the things that -- that your previous guest, the intrepid Mr. Nungesser and Senator Young made the point of and they touched briefly on before you had to cut away was the moratorium, which I continue to say is the biggest problem we've got facing us. I mean, we have already been decimated economically and emotionally.
But the President is driving a stake in the state -- well, the whole region's heart with this six-month moratorium. And how disconnected he is from what that means is: A, the small amount of the $20 million -- I mean $20 billion -- that he is putting aside to -- to cover the cost of the moratorium; and B, what he said in his statement -- in his speech last night that was mind-boggling to me.
He said: I know this is going to be -- lead to some -- quote -- "difficulty for the guys who work on those rigs."
Well, if he thinks that some guys on the rigs are the only people that are going to be affected by a six-month oil moratorium, he's out of his cotton-picking mind. I mean, he just -- either he just doesn't want to know about this, or he -- he is really more disconnected than he has been acting like for the last two months.
So, I -- I just -- that - that --
REED: -- that is a topic that nobody is really seriously addressing enough to me -- for me.
COOPER: David, on the moratorium, you know, he has this commission set up. He sort of tossed it back to them, saying, you know, they're the ones who are going to decide when the -- sort of things are safe enough to actually continue forward.
Is there a timetable for that? And, politically, how is this playing out?
GERGEN: Well, I -- I think Julia Reed has an excellent point, as she so often does.
I don't understand why we're not mobilized to figure out whether those current rigs out there are safe and whether the rest of this can't be done by a team of technology people outside the commission. The commission is sort of trying to figure out what happened originally.
But -- but there has -- there has been a lack of urgency about the cleanup and about trying to get drilling --
REED: From the get-go.
GERGEN: -- yes, from the get-go -- and about this question about the rigs that are out there and where do we go from here.
Julia has got a good point. There are a lot of people hanging on this. This is a lot about the American economy. I don't understand why it should take anywhere close to six months.
REED: Well also -- we don't need this --
COOPER: It's also, Julia, you know -- go ahead.
REED: This commission hasn't even been seated yet. Sorry. Go ahead.
GERGEN: Yes. This -- this commission --
COOPER: No, no, go ahead, Julia.
REED: What were you going to --
REED: Well, the commission hasn't even been seated yet. We're losing hundreds of thousands of dollars like an hour. I mean, you know, as -- as Nungesser just pointed out, $100 million is -- is not going to get us through a few weeks.
But, also, you're talking about 100,000 jobs in the very short term that most economists say we're going to lose here. We've got an economy that's -- that's rife with unemployment, to the point where the feds are having to beef up numbers by counting census workers as employed.
And the President last night in his speech said, well, you know, we're putting people back to work.
I mean, I could not believe the tale that he felt was going to be in this big presidential Oval Office speech: we're putting back people to work, you know, installing, you know, environmentally correct windows. We've got some jobs out there.
Well, meanwhile, you are decimating a whole economy. It isn't just the people on the rigs. You know, we're -- we're destroying a tax base. You're -- I mean, nobody is going to be able to go to restaurants. They're not going to be able to pay their mortgage. They're not going to be able to pay their car loans, I mean, on and on and on.
He is so not -- he is just blinded to the huge repercussions of not just the spill, but his own -- but his own policies.
GERGEN: Yes, but Anderson, it goes back to something we've talked about earlier.
There's one organization in -- in the country that knows how to -- how to get something done and coordinated and moved and mobilized, and that is the U.S. military. I, to this day do not --
GERGEN: -- understand why they have not been brought in, in a serious way to get these problems cleared up, and we all have -- so we would have confidence that we've got the best team on the field.
REED: Because there's no team --
COOPER: Yes, it certainly -- I mean, Julia, there's no --
REED: As, Anderson, you know better than anybody. You're down there.
COOPER: And there's little confidence, Julia.
COOPER: I mean, do you have -- as a resident of New Orleans, do you have any confidence about the -- you know, about the federal response right now -- about -- about the BP response?
REED: Of course not. I mean, I -- I have been down to Grand Isle, as you have. It looks like the Keystone copse down there. And -- and fortunately, you've given Billy a great pulpit to -- to -- to air that out every day.
But, for the President to sit there and say, don't worry about a thing, we're going to fix 90 percent of this by the end of the summer, and we've got $20 billion, and everything is going to be cool. And, in the meantime, we need to reach for the moon and go for windmills and alternate energy, I mean, that is just insane.
No one is addressing the problems on the ground, what Billy Nungesser is talking about. You know, we can't even get Coast Guard approval to vacuum up the oil. We've got dispersants that nobody thinks is good.
I mean, there is no one is in charge. When the President last night said, you know, we have been in control of the cleanup since the get-go, I thought, why in the world would you say that? Because I wouldn't want to take credit for that myself. It's also patently untrue.
David is absolutely right. This -- if the President is going to say this is war, then act like it. Go to Congress. Appoint the National Guard or somebody that knows what they're doing in charge of this. I mean, Thad Allen isn't -- isn't getting it together, and neither are the 20 million subcontractors that BP has appointed and all the other federal agents that -- that are running into each other down there, keeping every bit of progress from happening.
COOPER: We've got to leave it there.
Julia Reed, I appreciate your perspective tonight, David Gergen as well.
Next on the program: awaiting Tony Hayward's testimony. He's going to testify tomorrow. He's kind of a gaffe-prone CEO. He appears before Congress tomorrow. We've seen his prepared remarks. We'll have some of them for you.
We will also talk with Congressman Ed Markey. He will be one of the Congressmen grilling Hayward on Capitol Hill. That is coming up.
Also ahead tonight: the birds in peril, saved from the spill and now taken to this center behind me to be treated. We're going to show you how it's being done, very hard work, a lot of people working around the clock, trying to save these birds' lives.
We'll introduce you to some of them -- ahead.
COOPER: Tomorrow, BP CEO Tony Hayward testifies before a House subcommittee. If yesterday's grilling of other oil executives is any indication, Hayward should not expect an easy time. BP has released his prepared testimony.
Here is some of what he's going to say tomorrow.
He's going to say -- quote -- "From the beginning, we have been committed to a transparent response. We know the public wants as much information as possible about this unprecedented event. And we continue to do our best to provide it so the public can understand the incidents and its impacts." Representative Ed Markey chairs one of the subcommittees investigating this spill. He's one of the toughest critics of BP around. I talked to him earlier.
COOPER: Congressman Markey, tomorrow, Tony Hayward is expected to say -- and I quote -- that, "From the beginning, we have been committed to a transparent response."
Are you floored that he is actually going to say that in front of Congress?
REP. EDWARD MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Right now, there would be no evidence to convict BP of being transparent.
They knew that it was not 1,000 barrels of oil a day in the first week. They knew it wasn't 12,000 barrels of oil a day. And, if they didn't know, then they're grossly incompetent.
But, without question, the public has had to fight every single day for 57 days to find out what BP knows about what has been happening in the Gulf of Mexico.
COOPER: In -- in his printed testimony, he is also apparently going to say that the Exxon Valdez showed the need to learn better ways to respond to an oil spill. And now he's saying that -- that this spill, that this accident shows the need to develop better ways to respond to a deepwater spill.
I mean, it seems like the -- the time to have developed better ways to deal with a deepwater spill was before this occurred, long ago.
MARKEY: They did not learn the lesson of the Exxon Valdez. In fact, what they did was, they all, all of the oil companies, have -- are suffering from collective amnesia, selective amnesia, so they did not have to put in place the safety response capability that would make it possible to minimize the damage in the Gulf of Mexico.
COOPER: Congressman Stupak said today that he thinks that they basically made up numbers for the regulators in terms of their -- their spill response plan.
We know that the BP plan said they could deal with 250,000 barrels a day. Obviously the fact that, you know, they're struggling to deal with 60,000 barrels a day -- that's right now the upper estimate -- shows that the -- you know, the numbers seem to be made up and Stupak is saying he thinks they did just make up numbers for regulators.
If that is true, isn't that illegal?
MARKEY: BP obviously does not stand for "be prepared." Yes, they were making it up. They had no response plan. Each of the oil company executives yesterday said that they would have had no better response than BP has.
And so representing to the American government that there is a response capability to protect the people of the United States and its oceans in the event of an accident, in my opinion, merits the opening of a criminal investigation.
They do not have the capacity. They would all be relying upon the same boom. They would all be relying upon the same skimmers. They would all be relying upon this -- a prayer and hope that somehow or other a solution would be found to a problem after it had already unfolded.
COOPER: Are you satisfied with this $20 billion escrow account or roughly $20 billion and the man who's going to be overseeing it?
MARKEY: It's a very good first step, but that's all it is. We could not have a better person than Ken Feinberg of running this fund. I have known him for years. And he is probably the best person in the country to take on this job.
But if a hurricane ever hits this region with all of that water out in the Gulf, $20 billion will be just the down payment.
COOPER: Congressman Markey, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
MARKEY: Thank you. Thanks for having me on.
COOPER: I should just point out again, throughout the program tonight I've tried to represent BP's position as much as I can in conversations. We always invite them on the program. We again invited them on the program tonight. They declined.
The invitation, of course, still stands.
Still ahead, our up-close look inside the Ft. Jackson Oil Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. That's where I am right now. That's what's behind me. More oil-soaked birds arrive every day; A lot of people working very hard around the clock to try to save the lives of these birds.
We'll take you inside in just a moment.
COOPER: In a moment we'll show you what's being done to save the wildlife. But more and a lot more from the Gulf ahead, but first let's get caught up on some of tonight's other top stories.
Joe Johns has the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a biology professor accused of gunning down three co-workers on an Alabama campus in February is facing new murder charges dating back nearly a quarter of a century.
Amy Bishop is accused of shooting her brother, 18-year-old Seth Bishop -- seen here -- with a shotgun back in 1986. Originally ruled an accident, the case was recently reopened.
Take a look at this. A Seattle cop caught on camera punching a 17-year-old girl who allegedly jay walked? According to police, the officer was in the process of handcuffing one suspect on Monday when her friend lunged at him twice. That's when the officer threw the punch.
The officer is still on the job. The department is launching an investigation into that incident.
Stocks rebounded today on news of BP's $20 billion fund to settle claims from the oil spill. Energy stocks led the rally. But at the closing bell the Dow gained five points while the NASDAQ and S&P finished flat -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Joe, thanks very much.
Just a clarification note. At the top of the hour, one of our guests said that BP owns 20 percent of the company that makes Corexit. I challenged him on that. I said I hadn't heard that. Corexit, obviously, a dispersant that BP is using in the Gulf.
I said I'd check to see if it was accurate. We've been looking so far -- so far there's no evidence that that is true. The research, in fact, that we've studied show that BP does not own a 20-percent stake in the company that manufactures Corexit. However, former BP executive sits on the board of the company that makes Corexit.
We'll continue to look and have more update tomorrow if warranted.
Coming up, we'll take you into Ft. Jackson Oil Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. We'll talk to the man in charge about the desperate fight to save the hundreds of birds affected by this environmental disaster.
Also ahead, our special series: "The Culprits of the Catastrophe"; naming names. Tonight is a biggie. You probably won't be a surprise to see his name on our list, coming up.
COOPER: Well, as I mentioned earlier, we're reporting tonight from the Ft. Jackson Oil Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Louisiana. It's kind of a triage center for brown pelicans and other birds.
And the lucky ones come here where they're given a chance at least of survival. That's the good news. The bad news is the number of wildlife collected in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster just keeps on climbing.
According to the U.S. government, to date, 634 oil-soaked birds have been collected alive. No one knows the actual death toll. Earlier today I got an up-close look at what it takes to rehabilitate these animals and ultimately the idea goal is to return them to the wild. Take a look. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
COOPER (on camera): When birds are first brought in, they're not immediately cleaned?
DUANE TITUS, INTL. BIRD RESCUE RESEARCH CENTER: No, no, no. They couldn't withstand the stress.
COOPER: The stress of being cleaned might kill them?
TITUS: Yes. We stabilize them for about three days. You know, prior to wash.
COOPER: What's so difficult about the wash?
TITUS: You know, it's just a really difficult process for the birds. They're being held still. They're being bathed with warm water and they view us as predators. They don't really realize that the humans that are working with them are necessarily trying to help them. So as far as they're concerned, they're being attacked.
COOPER: So for them it's incredibly stressful?
TITUS: Incredibly stressful, yes. Very, very.
COOPER: And that can actually kill them?
TITUS: Sure. Yes. Stress is definitely known to kill just about, you know, any kind of wildlife and human being. So it's a very stressful process.
COOPER: And then is there any -- what are they cleaning right there?
TITUS: It's the pouch, basically the pouch of the pelican. We try to clean inside and outside. That pouch is very elastic. So we try to stretch it out to get both inside and outside very clean.
TITUS: So --
COOPER: What are they doing right here? At first they -- I mean what's the process for cleaning?
TITUS: So right now he's just beginning to process the bird. They'll get a good look at it. Basically get the wings held together to keep it safe and then this is actually a pre-treating process.
COOPER: And what does that do?
TITUS: It loosens the oil. It makes it much softer. The oil has been weathered and fairly dry. And that basically breaks down the oil, makes it much easier to wash this bird.
COOPER: So you put that all over the bird? TITUS: Correct. They'll put that all over the bird. And then typically what they'll do is they'll put that in a special enclosure with birds that have been pretreated. And in about half hour to an hour's time they'll pull that same bird out and begin the wash process.
COOPER: And they literally have to wash inside the bird's mouth?
TITUS: Inside the bird's mouth, yes. We try and wash -- these birds have been preening. If you're watching the fence, they really excessively preen try to clean their feathers.
COOPER: Preening or cleaning themselves.
COOPER: With their beaks.
TITUS: Correct. They're trying to kind of comb their feathers and straighten and realign their feathers to get themselves water- proof and get the oil off of them. So they've ingested some so we want to try and clean as much oil from inside the bill and the mouth and that pouch. And so -- as much inside as it is outside.
COOPER: Do you ever get used to seeing this?
TITUS: Not really. No. It's -- this is pretty moving. It's a heartbreaking thing to think that these beautiful animals are soiled basically to make our lives, you know, convenient, simple. So it's -- we all have a hand in this. So I think we all have a hand in cleaning it up.
COOPER: A lot of people working very hard. The man in charge, Jay Holcomb, is the executive director of the International Bird Rescue Research Center. Did I get that right?
JAY HOLCOMB, INTL. BIRD RESCUE RESEARCH CENTER: You got it pretty good. Yes.
COOPER: Always get it wrong.
Thanks very much. You've been doing this 40 years. How does this spill compare to what you've seen?
HOLCOMB: Well, you know, the one thing different about this spill than any of the others is that the oil keeps pumping. And therefore we can't really plan for an end to it. And I always say spills start with three pieces. There's the beginning, the middle when everything is working or we're getting the cleaned up, and then the end, where the last drop is cleaned.
And so we're kind of still in the beginning. So that makes it really tiring and really frustration as everybody else.
COOPER: So we've just seen the process where the birds are cleaned. Once they're actually cleaned they're brought here.
COOPER: Can you show us what this is?
HOLCOMB: Sure. This is one of the cages outside. These guys are in the rehabilitation stage. Here we go.
And -- so these pelicans -- they'll calm down in just a second. Some of those first pelicans you saw that were really oiled, some of them are these. So they've been cleaned up.
COOPER: It's amazing the difference.
HOLCOMB: Yes. This is what they look like when they're clean. And the ones with the white heads are considered the adults; when they're three years of age and over they're sexually mature. So those are the nesting birds. So those are the ones that have chicks and so on.
COOPER: And then -- and then will you -- will they be re- released into the wild?
HOLCOMB: Yes. These birds are all getting ready to be re- released.
COOPER: Where do you -- where will you release them?
HOLCOMB: Well, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to release them in Florida and move them as far away right now as they can from the oil. And so they're going to -- we're going to start getting some of these out on Sunday.
COOPER: What's so devastating, and a lot of people don't realize, is that these birds were just taken off the endangered species list last year.
HOLCOMB: Yes. Yes.
COOPER: This has to be just a punch in the gut for someone like you.
HOLCOMB: Well, yes, I think it is for everybody because, you know, it's this incredible conservation project where they brought chicks from Florida years ago and then built these whole colonies and now they're being impacted.
And every adult here that you see represents its young that probably is not going to survive because they need to have these to feed their babies.
COOPER: I read, I think, a statistic, and I might get this wrong, in "The New York Times," that only about 1 percent of oiled birds survive. Is that true?
HOLCOMB: No, that's not true. That's based on old information. And we'll put that to rest right now.
HOLCOMB: That's old information from years ago when we didn't have the technology we have now.
COOPER: So how -- what kind of percentage? Do you have survival rates?
HOLCOMB: Well, yes, absolutely. Well, it always -- of course it depends on the variables. You know, the species and the time of year.
COOPER: A bigger bird -- you're finding bigger birds, they're easier to get, they're more noticeable.
HOLCOMB: Right. Yes, these guys are one of the -- rank on the higher and easier to rehabilitate. Doesn't mean they're not vulnerable and they don't die. But we typically release about 80 percent, sometimes higher, sometimes lower, of this species.
COOPER: This bird just spread its wings. It's not going to take off?
HOLCOMB: Yes, no, he's just exercising.
COOPER: OK. So, I'm sorry. Eighty percent, you said?
HOLCOMB: Around 80 percent, you know, and these are really healthy birds. So they were captured really quick. I mean they got oil but they were captured, so they were brought in, they were cleaned fairly quickly. And they're eating -- they're internally healthy birds. So we think they have a good chance.
COOPER: There's a lot of folks who, you know, have heard that there's not enough people out there. There's a lot of people around the country who want to volunteer. What do you tell people?
HOLCOMB: Well, you know, the rehab program here that we're doing right here at Ft. Jackson, we have enough people and I know thousands have signed up. And we're calling in more people as needed. You just can't bring everybody in because they have to be managed and so on.
As far as helping out, catching the birds, you know, the program out there is managed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for Louisiana. They decide that. And -- so they're put on a list and they'll call if needed.
COOPER: Do you feel like you have a handle on the birds in crisis or is it hard to tell?
HOLCOMB: Yes, it's hard to tell. And I feel -- I never feel like I have a handle on it because, you know, we know the oil is out there. We know it can come to shore. These guys are nesting in their nesting spots.
And if it comes to their nest areas like these ones, then they could get impacted. So we're kind of like in this waiting game like everybody else to see what happens.
COOPER: Well, it's amazing work you're doing. I know you got to be up early to start again.
COOPER: Appreciate you staying up.
HOLCOMB: Thanks, Anderson. Sure.
COOPER: Thanks so much. Jay Holcomb, executive director.
We're going to have a lot more coming up more from the Gulf. The "Culprits of the Catastrophe," we add a third name to our list.
COOPER: Today's White House meeting between President Obama and BP's top executive lasted four hours. Afterward, BP's chairman made a statement and took a few questions from reporters.
You can see BP CEO Tony Hayward behind him. He actually didn't say anything in public today. In fact he hasn't said anything for a while now.
Tomorrow, though, Hayward testifies before a House subcommittee and he's not going to be getting any love from the lawmakers certainly. Representative Bart Stupak will be one of the lawmakers questioning Hayward.
Dana Bash talked to him today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tony Hayward has in many ways become the poster child of this and in many ways the villain of this. Do you see him as the villain of this BP explosion?
REP. BART STUPAK (D), MICHIGAN: Look, he's a corporate guy at the end of the day. He's going to put his best foot forward. It's not going to ring true with me or the American public.
And we've got a mess on our hands, a disaster, a catastrophic disaster for our environment and those people who lost their lives.
He's just going to say I'm sorry and it won't happen again. That's not good enough. It's not good enough.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, at the top of the program, we're going to have more on what the executives said at the White House today. But the bottom line is that Tony Hayward was the guy in charge when Deepwater Horizon blew up and in our accounting -- in our accounting at least that makes him one of the culprits of the catastrophe.
Here is Randi Kaye.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As BP execs entered the White House today cameras were drawn especially to this man, CEO Tony Hayward -- a lightning rod for all of the anger at BP.
For Hayward, it's a long fall from where he was in 2007. He had just been named BP's new CEO and he promised to make safety his top priority. At the time, the oil giant's reputation was in tatters over accidents, safety violations and employee deaths.
BP's Texas City refinery had just exploded, killing 15. Investigators found BP had violated its own safety protocols.
Hayward promised to do away with what he called the more-for-less cost cutting strategy that had become the norm at BP.
STEVE LEVINE, FOREIGN POLICY MAGAZINE: He wasn't going to put them in danger. There were not going to be BP employees who died on his watch.
KAYE: Fast forward three years to the Gulf of Mexico and the DeepWater Horizon rig. What happened to Hayward's promises?
We asked "Foreign Policy" magazine's Steve Levine.
LEVINE: If he really wanted to change that culture, what he needed to do was change the culture of profit first, of cost cutting, and I have no evidence -- I've seen nothing to suggest that that culture changed.
KAYE (on camera): Perhaps it has now. In his testimony to Congress, Tony Hayward will promise to do everything in BP's power to address the economic and environmental consequences of the spill and to ensure that BP uses its lessons learned to make energy exploration and production safer and more reliable for everyone.
(voice-over): Yes. Well, that is pretty much what Hayward vowed three years ago after BP's fatal Texas refinery explosion. The fact is, with Deepwater Horizon, congressional investigation show BP was still trying to penny-pinch to save millions.
LEVINE: There were very serious shortcuts taken in the last hours, in the last days before the explosion that were made, specifically to save money. And this is something that points at management from the very top.
KAYE (on camera): Critics compare Hayward's strategy to a "Hail Mary" approach to drilling. Go deep and let's hope nothing goes wrong.
But on April 20th in the Gulf, something went horribly wrong. And in the weeks that followed, Hayward's comments made the catastrophe even more catastrophic for BP. (Voice-over): Early on, he took heat for calling the amount of oil lost relatively tiny compared with the very big ocean. And he reportedly asked fellow executives what the hell did we do to deserve this? As if BP was somehow the victim.
Then this, the remark that struck deepest --
TONY HAYWARD, BP CEO: There's no one who wants this thing over more than I do. You know I'd love my life back.
KAYE: He later apologized on BP's Facebook page. "I made a hurtful and thoughtless comment. I apologize, especially to the families of the 11 men who lost their lives in this tragic accident."
In response to this story, BP told us, quote, "One of the first things Hayward said was that he was going to make operational safety the heart of BP." The company said Hayward brought more professional engineers into the company and established a new maintenance and operating technique that is uniform at all their plants.
But in terms of stopping the leak, Hayward told the "Financial Times," quote, "We did not have the tools you would want in your tool kit."
LEVINE: Tony Hayward knew what the weaknesses of BP were, meaning that over the last two years, there had been very high-profile accidents. It was incumbent upon him to put in place the measures to make sure that something like this did not happen. He did not do that.
KAYE: And that is why BP's CEO Tony Hayward makes our list of the "Culprits of the Catastrophe."
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: So we add Tony Hayward to our list. He joins the former CEO of BP, Lord John Brown; and MMS, the agency that's supposed to regulate oil companies but certainly did not do that.
Hey, that's it for 360. Thanks for watching.
"LARRY KING" starts now.
I'll see you tomorrow night from the Gulf.