Interview with Rep. Charlie Melancon

Interview with Rep. Charlie Melancon

By The Situation Room - June 3, 2010

BLITZER: He's going to -- his -- he spoke about it to a certain degree with Larry King in the taped interview at the White House, Jack. So we'll hear it later tonight, the full interview, airing 9:00 p.m. Eastern. He's got some thoughts on his meeting with the Arizona governor.

But let's get back to our top story right now, the growing crisis in the Gulf of Mexico and a new call for the BP chief, Tony Hayward, to resign -- to resign right away.

Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Charlie Melancon of Louisiana.

Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.

Tell our viewers why you want the CEO of BP to resign right now.

REP. CHARLIE MELANCON (D), LOUISIANA: Well, two nights ago, when Tony Hayward was down in Venice, Louisiana, he made a relatively flippant statement about he would like his life back. And the people of this coastal region after Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike, they're struggling through those, rebuilding their lives, getting their businesses and their boats back in the water and such as that, they'd like to have their life back. They're not responsible for what has happened down here, but they're the ones that are paying the price for it.

And if he wants his life back, go on back to Britain. But send us somebody that cares about this state, that cares about these people and will be honest with us. We're -- we're feeling like, in Louisiana, that we've been lied to from the get go. It started off as 1,000 barrels a day. It went to 5,000. Now, it's anywhere's from 12,000 to 19,000, by one source, and maybe as much as 50,000 by another.

So, you know, the frustration of there are plumes, there's not plumes, there's just so much that's going on out here that people are frustrated.

BLITZER: He did...

MELANCON: They're out of work. They've shut down...

BLITZER: I was going to say, Congressman -- sorry for interrupting. But Tony Hayward did issue a statement on his Facebook page apologizing for that statement -- apologizing to the people in Louisiana. He thought it was a dumb statement himself. He shouldn't have said it.

I think -- I guess the question to you, is you don't believe him, that apology?

MELANCON: Well -- and I made the statement yesterday morning, which was the morning after I heard the statement, before an apology. And I appreciate the apology.

That still doesn't speak for BP's behavior and the way they've acted since day one. You know, this is a major issue, a major crisis for this part of the country. And this may be for decades that we suffer through this. And -- and to be flippant in any way is just it -- that's a bit cynical I guess, in some ways, people are looking at it.

These are good people. They're hardworking people.

If you go out in the marshes and see these guys putting the boom out, this is not about earning a buck. This is about saving their future. This is about saving what they love the most. This is about saving the wetlands, America's wetlands. It's the fisheries. It's the habitat for -- for water fowl and for migratory birds. It is -- it's just a phenomenal place.

BLITZER: The president is going to be with you tomorrow in Louisiana. I don't know if. You're going to see the president, but if you are with the president tomorrow, what are you going -- what are you going to say to him?

MELANCON: Well, I've got a number of things on my list. It depends how much time I get. And I guess I'll have to prioritize.

We're going to talk about -- I'm going to try and talk about the moratorium and how we find a compromise between "spill, baby, spill" and "drill, baby, drill."

We can't shut down this part of the country just summarily to not drilling at all. And we've got a safety record in the shallow waters. We ought to allow that to go forward. Let's go ahead and make sure that the safety on those rigs are there so that people don't get injured and hurt the environment.

And I understand the concern. If we go out in -- in 5,000 feet of water and get another blowout while we're trying to clean this one up, it's -- it will be totally devastating -- far worse than I can even fathom.

BLITZER: Because the president says there's no moratorium on the shallow drilling. And he's very concerned about the deepwater drilling.

Are you with him on that, the 5,000 foot drilling, should there be a moratorium on some of the existing wells similar to the well that exploded?

MELANCON: I think we can do something other than a moratorium. A moratorium only puts a notice out around the world that there's 33 rigs available to be moved to Africa or Brazil or the Far East and go drill there. And then we'll lose the jobs. We'll lose -- now, but at the same time, I want to make sure that those rigs are safe, not only for the people, but for the environment. And then I want to talk to him about how do we figure out what's down on the floor. That's where our problem is, is what's on the floor of the Gulf that's been -- been letting all that gas -- that oil and gas out of there.

So trying to find a balance between the extremes of no drilling and "drill, baby, drill" is what I hope that I can have a conversation with, if not tomorrow, I -- I'm scheduling a meeting in the White House for next week to try and meet with staff, at least, and try and talk through some of these things and seeing if there's anyplace that we can find some common ground.

We were one of the brought spots in the unemployment picture. We don't want to go into the high unemployment.

BLITZER: All right. At the same time you don't want to see this disaster explode even beyond where it is right now.

MELANCON: That's correct.

BLITZER: It's a delicate tightrope that you're describing.


BLITZER: Congressman Charlie Melancon of Louisiana.


BLITZER: We'll check back -- we'll check back with you for sure.

Thank you and good luck.

MELANCON: Thanks, Wolf.


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