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As it happened: BP's Tony Hayward testifies to Congress

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Three Florida businessmen respond to BP CEO Tony Hayward's performance at the congressional hearing

LIVE TEXT COMMENTARY (all times EST, GMT-4)

By Katie Connolly, Washington

1804 Thanks for joining our live coverage of BP CEO Tony Hayward's appearance on Capitol Hill today. We've appreciated all your comments and insights along the way. As always, the BBC News website will continue to provide the latest news and analysis of the oil spill. Until next time!

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1759 We can't trust our energy future to people like BP's Hayward anymore. Nor to people who apologize to them - or for them. Clean energy now!

1758 MSNBC's John Schoen writes: "A grim-faced Hayward, facing withering questions from lawmakers in an all-day hearing, was not able to shed much light. 'I can't answer that question,' 'I can't recall,' 'That's a decision I was not party to' and 'I don't know,' he replied calmly, sticking to his script."

1755 The Associated Press writes: "Channelling the nation's anger, lawmakers pilloried BP's boss in a withering day of judgment Thursday for the oil company at the center of the Gulf calamity. Unflinching, BP chief executive Tony Hayward said he was out of the loop on decisions at the well and coolly asserted, 'I'm not stonewalling.' That infuriated members of Congress even more, Democrats and Republicans alike."

1752 Over at Yahoo News, today's questions were characterised as "laced with anger and indignation". Hayward, they write, "would insist, in lumbering, indirect replies that he either had no personal knowledge of the internal company decisions that led to the Deepwater Horizon explosion - or that he couldn't furnish relevant details because Congress's own investigation of the spill fiasco is ongoing. This sort of studied non-responsiveness is of course familiar - echoing past Hill testimony from tobacco executive and baseball stars. But while Hayward stayed dutifully on message, the hearings proper had more than their share of drama."

e-mail sent in by reader
1750 "Money cannot replace all of what has been lost in our way of life, here on the Gulf Coast. The 134-year-old oyster business that had been owned by one family for several generations cannot re-open. Many other businesses are gone forever. The Brown Pelican, the state bird, will probably go back onto the endangered species list. And, the tourism business has taken a huge hit. It is money to BP. It is our lives."

1736 Summarising today's hearing, the New York Times says that lawmakers were frustrated at Mr Hayward "when he repeatedly sidestepped their questions, saying he was unaware of engineering decisions before the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and refusing to speculate about what investigators would discover about its causes. Even as he apologised for a catastrophe that 'never should have happened,' Mr Hayward offered few specifics about why."

1729 After saying that some members would be happy for the hearing to continue all night, Mr Stupak finally declares it over - but not before chastising Mr Hayward one last time for being evasive.

1725 This is the first time in the hearing today that Mr Hayward has asked the technical expert for advice. The hearing convened over seven hours ago.

1723 Ms DeGette from Colorado tries for a second time today to get Mr Hayward to ask the BP technical expert present to answer questions. After conferring with the expert, Mr Hayward says he's not a cement expert and can't answer her technical question. Fail.

1716 After several questions on the topic over the course of the afternoon, Mr Hayward finally admits that BP is taking note of ideas offered by the public and that there is a process for reviewing and implementing such ideas. Does anyone else think it is strange that it took him so long to address this point? It's an easy win for him.

1710 With regard to compensation, Mr Hayward says "I'm very conscious of the issue of small businesses who have ongoing cash flow demands." He tells the committee he's trying to make sure money will be paid to such businesses in advance rather than in arrears, and that BP has paid out more than $15m already on that basis.

1705 The number of members of Congress present is dwindling, which seems to suggest that the hearing will wrap up relatively soon. That said, the leading members don't seem to be running out of questions, even if the answers they get yield little new information.

1653 Mr Hayward says that August is still the most optimistic date for finally cutting off the flow of oil from the wellhead.

1650 Mr Hayward's testimony has been hampered by the testimonies several days ago of other oil executives who, seeking to distance themselves from the accident, claimed they would have drilled and secured the deepwater well differently. Committee members have barely missed an opportunity to remind Mr Hayward of those comments by his competitors, which has consistently undercut his claims.

Paul Adams
1642 The BBC's Paul Adams in Washington This hearing will have done nothing to advance anyone's understanding of what actually happened in the Gulf of Mexico. As a public relations exercise for BP, it was a disaster.

comment from blogger
1635 Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo Apologizing to the CEO of BP for the president getting BP to pay for damages to the Gulf. Who could have imagined it would turn out so badly?

1632 Asked about the lessons he will take away from this, Mr Hayward says the most important one is to make the failsafe mechanism so it is "genuinely failsafe...Industrial accidents are always a combination of equipment failure and human judgment...It is clear that the current design basis of the blowout preventer being used across the world is not as failsafe as it needs to be." Mr Hayward adds that rival companies also need to take heed of that lesson, as do regulatory authorities.

Tony Hayward
The hearing began at 10am on Thursday morning

1618 Mr Waxman asks why Congress should rely on BP to do its own investigation. Mr Hayward replies that there are several investigations ongoing and all he can do is share his findings.

e-mail sent in by reader
1615 "Why do the committee keep saying British Petroleum? Don't they know the company name is BP? This is just a pathetic attempt to blame someone else."

1606 House Republican leaders John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Mike Pence have released a statement on Mr Barton's "slushfund" comments (see 1016): "Congressman Barton's statements this morning were wrong. BP itself has acknowledged that responsibility for the economic damages lies with them and has offered an initial pledge of $20 billion dollars for that purpose."

Matt Frei
1603 The BBC's Matt Frei in Washington Tony Hayward's phlegmatic contrition makes it very difficult for legislators to get a rise out of him. The CEO seems to have learned from his past foot in mouth mistakes.

e-mail sent in by reader
1602 " I wonder how many CEOs know every decision that is made within their organisations. You hire people to make those decisions for you based on their ability and expertise. Rather than haranguing Mr Hayward with questions he is unable or unprepared to answer and making broad statements of condemnation, why not compel BP to answer the questions in a manner that is actually productive?"

1557 In some ways, it's better for the committee members that Mr Hayward isn't giving them answers they find satisfactory. They are looking for a villain, and if Mr Hayward isn't it, it makes their job more difficult.

Steve Kingstone
1553 The BBC's Steve Kingstone in Washington They're all speaking the same language, but there's a big cultural clash here. Tony Hayward is giving a typically British, straight-batted response to hostile questions. He probably feels he's holding his own. But to US lawmakers he's coming across as legalistic, emotionless and evasive. You can feel their exasperation.

1546 More theatrics! Mr Scalise, Republican of Louisiana, holds up a photograph of an oil soaked pelican which he says he will keep in his office until the spill is fixed. If you were watching, you would have heard hundreds of camera clicks the moment he showed the photograph. Members of Congress like to bring props to these hearings partly because it makes the photos more interesting, so it's more likely that a photo of them will end up in the newspaper.

1542 Mr Engel, a Democrat from New York says he's "thoroughly disgusted" accusing Mr Hayward of stalling and "insulting our intelligence".

1541 Speaking of theatrics, film star Kevin Costner has entered the hearing room. He was testifying on the oil spill before a different committee earlier today.

1540 At this time in the hearing, we are clearly at a point of diminishing returns. Mr Hayward has been giving essentially the same answers for several hours now, with members basically asking the same questions in slightly different ways. It's less of an investigation than a performance now. When pundits talk about political theatrics, this is what they are talking about.

e-mail sent in by reader
1539 " Those commenting here "what about the US bankers" and "mob mentality", do you understand the damage to the Gulf, to the economy, that could and is destroying lives and US wildlife? Do you understand the damage being done?"

1535 Mr Stearns, a Republican from Florida, pushes Mr Hayward to go on record as to whether BP had engaged in "reckless behaviour". Mr Hayward refuses to give a yes or no answer, saying he's seen no evidence of reckless behaviour.

1520 Grilled by Mr Welch from Vermont over decisions at the Deepwater Horizon, Mr Hayward says: "I'm not able to make a judgment as to whether the right decisions were made." Asked why, he answers "I'm not, with respect, a drilling engineer." That prompts Mr Welch to ponder, who is really in charge at BP?

1520 Mr Barton, whose remarks have caused a political stir today, ends his questions by saying "I want the record to be absolutely clear that I think BP is responsible for this accident" and "if anything I have said has been misconstrued" to imply the opposite, he wants to clear up that perception. Anyone else wonder if Republican leadership had a few terse words with Mr Barton during the recess?

1506 Mr Hayward says it is BP policy that if staff member at any time feels they are doing something unsafe they have the right and the responsibility to shut the operation down. He's surprised that nobody came forward on that basis.

e-mail sent in by reader
"It would make sense for this to be halted until BP's technical investigation (or an independent one) is complete. Congress is wanting to assume certain answers. Hayward is rightly contesting that approach."

1502 Mr Hayward says that BP believed that the blow out preventer was the ultimate failsafe mechanism. File under: Cold comfort.

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1500 "Why isn't the UK government roasting the US toxic bankers like this? Where is the UK's compensation fund from the US bankers?"

Paul Adams
1459 The BBC's Paul Adams in Washington Here Mr Hayward is being bombarded by a bunch of grandstanding politicians who have suddenly become instant experts on all aspects of the oil industry. And he is in a way being quite honest by saying, "I'm not an expert in that." But it's still baffling because he has a technical expert there, and he hasn't sworn them in.

1459 Mr Ross, a Democrat from Arkansas, points out that BP has prompted a rare moment of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill: Everyone is angry at BP. Also none of the committee members feel Mr Hayward is being upfront or comprehensive in his answers.

1454 During a rare appearance at the White House press briefing today, Vice President Joe Biden said that Rep Barton's "shakedown" comments (see entry for 1016) were insensitive and out of touch. A generally emotive speaker, Mr Biden appeared quite aggravated by Mr Barton's remarks.

1450 Mr Doyle of Pennsylvania tells Mr Hayward that his industry is different than most. "You're not the CEO of a department store," he said. If a department store middle manager makes a mistake, there are no lives at stake, Mr Doyle says, adding that "the best minds and the senior leadership of a company" should be paying attention to decisions involving risk, but that didn't appear to be the case. "I'm sitting here thinking I should be the CEO of an oil company. I hear it pays better than being a member of Congress," Mr Doyle said.

Paul Adams
1449 The BBC's Paul Adams in Washington The thing that strikes me is that Mr Hayward has a legitimate position, which is not to prejudge the outcome of investigations of both by BP and perhaps by federal agencies, but he's presenting it so badly that the committee simply concludes that he is stonewalling and evasive.

1439 If you are wondering why some members seem to get more time to ask questions than others, it's because those who haven't used all their allotted time may yield the remainder of their time back so other members of their party can use it.

Tony Hayward
Tony Hayward has faced some hostile questioning

1434 Mr Braley from Iowa tries awkwardly to bridge cultural gaps by explaining to Mr Hayward what Americans mean by the term "shakedown". Mr Hayward looks unimpressed.

1430 Mr Gingrey of Georgia asks if Mr Hayward if he were on the rig himself, would he have made the same technical decisions. Mr Hayward says he's not a drilling engineer and isn't qualified to make those calls. Mr Gingery accuses him of copping out. "You're the captain on this ship," Mr Gingrey says, before calling Mr Hayward's answers "evasive."

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Tony Hayward is fumbling over his testimony… gee what a surprise.

1428 Mr Hayward tells the committee that if he finds anyone put cost ahead of safety he will take action.

1419 Parts of the hearing have been heavy on technical and engineering points. This excellent BBC News guide to stopping the oil will help decode some of the dense detail.

1418 It will be interesting to read the wrap up reporting of this hearing tomorrow, and see if Mr Hayward's tone and demeanour are interpreted differently on each side of the Atlantic. Tonality is critical in hearings like this, and it is not yet clear how the cultural differences will play out.

e-mail sent in by reader
1417 "The majority of the select committee have pronounced BP guilty and now are seeking evidence to back this up. Hayward should just keep measured replies. This is not a court of law.

1413 Mr Stupak reconvenes the hearing. He firmly chastises Mr Hayward saying that committee members are frustrated with his "lack of candour and inability to answer questions."

e-mail sent in by reader
1352 "The US Government and Congress are displaying an ugly mob mentality here. Maybe they should take a step back and evaluate their own energy policies. There are lessons to be learned by all parties. This spectacle serves absolutely no purpose but the mobs cry for blood."

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1335 It's troubling that... Tony Hayward has no knowledge of any decision making that happens in his company, especially after 28 years of employment

1322 According to Politico, Republican lawmakers are "hunkered down" in Minority Leader John Boehner's office trying to figure out how to deal with Mr Barton's "slushfund" and "shakedown" comments.

1300 How do you think Mr Hayward has performed so far? Do you think the questions are fair? If you were on the committee, what would you ask Mr Hayward? Let us know using the comment box on the right hand side of this page.

MORNING SESSION

1257 The hearing is adjourned once more for votes. These are the last votes of the day, so when the hearing recommences in an hour there should be no further recesses.

e-mail sent in by reader
1255 "Although I am devastated by this ecological disaster, I feel BP has been doing everything in their power to deal with the situation as best they can. They have taken full responsibility from the start, so I am rooting for them and am making it a point to buy my gas from BP gas stations whenever possible. I am also continuing to keep my money in my mutual funds that include BP stock in them as I believe BP will still come out ahead eventually. I will lose money in the short-term, but in the long-term, I know BP is going to be fine."

1255 Mr Dingell is asking very detailed questions about technical decisions made during the construction of the well and whether those decisions saved money. Mr Hayward doesn't have the answers and is starting to looking frustrated and exasperated.

Photographers at the hearing
Man under scrutiny: Tony Hayward

1251 There are two recurring themes in Mr Hayward's answers: That the investigation is still ongoing and he wasn't involved in the decision making process regarding safety mechanism at Deepwater Horizons. Those two answers just aren't cutting the mustard for the committee today.

1244 Mr Waxman ends his first round of questions saying that he's "just amazed" over Mr Hayward's lack of concrete answers. He accuses Mr Hayward of "kicking the can down the road" and not taking responsibility.

1242 Mr Waxman scolds Mr Hayward for not having answers to questions Mr Waxman had previously outlined in a letter. Flashbacks to being in school?

e-mail sent in by reader
1240 "This is the modern day equivalent of someone being in the stocks pelted with rotten fruit. Beyond making the committee members feel that they have given Hayward a good beating, is this achieving anything?"

1237 Already the questions are quite repetitive - focusing on Mr Hayward's judgment, knowledge of the safety plans and why particular mechanisms were employed at the Deepwater Horizon. But the real question is this: is there anything that Tony Hayward can say or do today that will restore trust or change minds?

1231 Mr Waxman demands yes or no answers and tells Mr Hayward: "I don't care whether you're distraught."

Mark Mardell
1230 The BBC's Mark Mardell in Washington Hayward has sounded suitably contrite. But his insistence that the investigation is still going on and it is too early to draw conclusion is going to frustrate the committee.

1228 Mr Stupak asks Mr Hayward if he expects to be BP CEO for much longer. Mr Hayward dodges the question, saying that right now he is just focused on the response to the spill.

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1227 Stupak get a grip - Hayward's future as CEO of BP is not the issue.

1225 Mr Stupak reminds Mr Hayward that in recent years BP accidents have resulted in 26 deaths and 170 people injured. He asks Mr Hayward if he believes the US government should continue to allow companies with poor safety records to continue to explore and drill in US territories.

1222 Mr Stupak reconvenes the hearing. "Quite frankly, BP blew it," he says, accusing the company of cutting corners to save time. He asks Mr Hayward if he managed the crisis properly, and swiftly interrupts his answer when Mr Hayward begins to ramble.

1216 Mr Hayward returns to the hearing room, but most committee members are still absent.

Mark Mardell
1210 The BBC's Mark Mardell in Washington Tony Hayward has been very contrite. He's said that this was personally devastating to him, that it was a shattering moment when he heard about the disaster, that it should have never have happened, that he deeply regrets it, and obviously he's got to strike that very apologetic tone.

e-mail sent in by reader
1159 "What would Mr Hayward's resignation achieve? At this point in time, he probably knows more than anyone else about the technicality of the accident and the attempts at fixing the leak. Replacing him would just mean further delays to the resolution of this issue."

1156 This back and forth between the White House and Rep Barton illustrates the highly charged politics of the spill and clean up. But any attempt to score political points off this process will likely serve to alienate a public in which faith in government and politicians has eroded to historic lows.

1155 The White House has retaliated to Mr Barton's opening statement (see entry for 1016) calling the $20bn escrow fund a "slushfund" and yesterday's meeting with President Obama a "shakedown." The White House statement reads: "What is shameful is that Joe Barton seems to have more concern for big corporations that caused this disaster than the fishermen, small business owners and communities whose lives have been devastated by the destruction."

Laura Trevelyan
1153 The BBC's Laura Trevelyan in Florida I am watching the hearing in Fred Simmons' beachfront house in Pensacola, where tar balls from the spill have washed up on the beaches. Fred rents properties to holidaymakers, and he has invited a group of local businessmen to watch the hearing. All here are losing money as vacationers cancel. Bill Fontenot, a property owner, says it is almost unfair for Tony Hayward, one man, to go through this and bear the burden alone.

1141 As we await the return of the committee, send us your thoughts on the hearing so far using the comment box on the right of the page. Does having to appear before this committee today give new meaning to "having a bad day at work" for Mr Hayward? Are the proceedings achieving anything?

e-mail sent in by reader
1137 "It seems the committee members don't need Tony Hayward to answer their questions. Their opening statements make it clear that they have made up their minds already about this event. The committee have merely brought Hayward here in order to berate him. Whatever he says, the members will leave with the same opinions that they arrived with."

1134 The committee takes a break to go and vote on the House floor, where business continues as usual. The committee will be in recess until noon.

1132 Mr Hayward pledges that he will not rest until he "makes this right", adding that no resources will be spared. He says that BP and the entire industry will emerge from the crisis stronger and smarter.

1130 Mr Hayward has very few options here but to appear entirely remorseful. It's an interesting metaphor that he is sitting at a large table completely alone, facing the committee. His advisers are sitting behind, not beside, him.

Mark Mardell
1125 The BBC's Mark Mardell in Washington A few minutes ago, Vermont's Peter Welch suggested that Mr Hayward should submit his resignation. So he's not as tough as Louisiana's congressman Joseph Cao, speaking to BP America CEO Lamar McKay at a hearing earlier in the week: "In the Asian culture we do things differently. During the Samurai days, we would just give you a knife and ask you to commit Hari-Kari. My constituents are still debating on what they want me to ask you to do." Slice and dice, indeed.

1128 Striking a humble tone, Mr Hayward says that the disaster never should have happened and he is deeply sorry. He says he's devastated by the deaths of 11 men. He describes a memorial service he attended as "a shattering moment".

1123 Mr Hayward is heckled by a protester as soon as he begins his testimony. The woman, who is soon removed from the room, has smeared her hands and cheeks with a black, tar-like substance. She yells "you need to go to jail" at Mr Hayward.

1121 Ms Sutton of Ohio gives the final and most emotional opening statement. She says seeing the footage of the spill makes her feel "physically sick".

1119 This succession of opening statements is a long tradition in US committee hearings. It allows members to be on record with their complaints, as well as be captured by television cameras. That's particularly useful for them in an election year, when members are trying to communicate to their constituents that they are working hard in DC.

1114 Mr Welch of Vermont delivers one of the harshest opening statements. He lists BP's history of accidents in the US and says that the Deepwater Horizon disaster is not an aberration but "for BP, regrettably, this is business as usual". He ends by questioning whether it is time for Mr Hayward to resign.

e-mail sent in by reader
1109 "This seems like a lot of show boating from the [panel]. Surely this should be more about asking questions on behalf of the American people than each of them taking it in turns to show how disgusted they are."

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1104 I think it's great that lawmakers are being really mean to the BP boss, but maybe someone ought to focus on actually stopping the leak?

1102 If you're watching live, let us know which opening statements you've found most compelling. You can use the comments box on the right of the page.

comment from blogger
1059 Anna Fifield, Financial Times Energy Source BP is an emotive issue and one where few lawmakers can withstand the opportunity to hit out at BP or, in a few cases, defend oil companies and attack the Obama administration. An hour into the hearing, we've yet to get to Tony Hayward.

1056 Lots of members are saying they look forward to Mr Hayward's testimony. I doubt Mr Hayward is looking forward to Mr Hayward's testimony...

1054 Mr Gingrey, Republican of Georgia, says "the responsibility to make these families whole falls to you Mr Hayward". He also asks for the opportunity, at some point, to question officials from the Minerals and Management Service who had oversight of the well.

Mark Mardell
1050 The BBC's Mark Mardell in Washington The congressmen have been reflecting on the economic damage done by the spill to the" most vulnerable citizens". It seems to me everybody on the coast is vulnerable right now. I've just got this note from my colleague Ian Sherwood who is on the Gulf coast: One of the businessmen we are filming with here has said that one of his loans for $1m will not be renewed, it is due for renewal now. He said when he pressed them as to why they had made that decision - they replied "the economy in Florida is going to tank due to this oil spill, therefore the loan is no longer viable for renewal." If this is generally true, rather than the fright of one bank, in one case, the "shake down" may not vigorous to cover all the damage.

1043 Mr Dingell of Michigan, one of the oldest and longest-serving members of Congress, reads a laundry list of Mr Hayward's recent gaffes. That can't be fun to hear...

e-mail sent in by reader
1041 "This is just politicians trying to absolve themselves of their responsibility for not properly monitoring the oil industry."

1038 Mr Hayward is maintaining an impressive poker face throughout this.

comment from blogger
1037 Mike Reid, Wall Street Journal Dispatch Blog Markey praises President Obama's handling of the Gulf disaster. Is this what the hearings are going to be about? Democrats talking their book and ditto the GOP lawmakers?

1035 Thirty minutes in, and the partisan fireworks begin. Mr Markey ditches his prepared remarks for a minute to rebut Mr Barton's statement. He disagrees "in the strongest possible terms... Not only is the compensation fund that was created yesterday at the White House.... not a slushfund and not a shakedown, rather it was the government of the US working to protect the most vulnerable citizens that we have in our country right now - the residents of the Gulf. It is BP's spill but it is America's ocean."

e-mail sent in by reader
1035 Good comments from Mr Barton, liking it to a shakedown. What else would it be but political pressure to pay up $20bn? Absolutely outrageous when compared to spills from Shell in Nigeria, Bhopal in India, or the Exxon spill."

1029 Mr Burgess, Republican of Texas, brings up the relatives of people who lost their lives at the Deepwater Horizon, hammering home the human cost of the disaster. Mr Hayward looks suitably uncomfortable.

1026 Mr Stupak ends by referring to some of the verbal gaffes BP execs have made in the last few weeks, including calling the people of Louisiana "small people" and Mr Hayward's unfortunate statement that he'd like his life back. Mr Stupak assures Mr Hayward that he will indeed get that life back, probably with a "golden parachute back to England". Yikes!

Mark Mardell
1020: The BBC's Mark Mardell in Washington The Texas Republican congressman Joe Barton has said that he is ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. He says BP has been subjected to a "shake down" to force them to establish a "slush fund". He's suggested that it borders on the criminal and makes him ashamed of his country, and sets a terrible precedent. This defence of big business may be the kindest words Mr Hayward hears today.

1023 As Mr Stupak shows the committee past statements made by Mr Hayward, including that "assurance is killing us" and that BP is being hampered by "excessive cautiousness", Mr Hayward sits expressionless, occasionally taking notes.

comment from blogger
1020: Andrew Clark, The Guardian On America Blog Tousle-haired Hayward is looking grim. The smile has disappeared.

1016 Joe Barton of Texas is the first Republican to speak. He says the process draws on the British tradition of due process and fairness. Then, he takes a pot shot at the White House, arguing that a private corporation shouldn't be subjected to a "shakedown" as they were at yesterday's meeting. Mr Barton says that he is ashamed of the White House's intervention, calling yesterday's announcement of an escrow account a "$20bn slushfund." He raises questions about the legitimacy of that fund.

1010 Mr Waxman likens BP's actions to the events that led to the Wall Street meltdown of 2008, describing the attitude as "corporate indifference to risk". He says this illustrates the need for regulatory reform and makes a pitch for clean energy solutions.

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This is sickening... Congress should be focusing on how to plug the hole, NOT this public tar and feathering!

1008 Mr Waxman delivers the first zinger of the day, saying that after perusing email correspondence, he could find no evidence that Mr Hayward paid any attention to the risks BP was taking at the well. He suggests that BP has shown "astonishing" complacency.

Paul Adams
1006: The BBC's Paul Adams in Washington The man who said he was going to be sliced and diced is the very chair of that committee. So I think that gives you a bit of an idea of what to expect. I think you're going to see blood on the carpet frankly.

1004 This is somewhat unusual - several members of the full Energy and Commerce committee are present. They'll be allowed to ask questions but not give opening statements.

1002 Mr Stupak takes his seat, bringing a large briefing folder and (presumably) a coffee with him. Gavel. And we're off.

1000 Several protestors are present towards the back of the room, quietly holding anti-BP signs.

0959 Mr Waxman greets Mr Hayward. Relations appear cordial.

0958 Some of the toughest questions for Mr Hayward will revolve around whether BP ignored safety warning and purposely chose cheaper, riskier options when building the well.

0957 Silence as an anxious-looking Mr Hayward arrives with advisers. The room fills with the sounds of cameras clicking.

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0956 Tony Hayward, CEO of BP on the Congressional grill today. If the pattern holds true, the stock of BP will jump up today.

0954 In the hearing room right now, a group of photographers is eagerly awaiting the arrival of Mr Hayward and the committee members. They'll be there all day, catching every grimace, smirk and furrowed brow.

0953 Another member to watch will be Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee. A conservative favourite, Ms Blackburn heatedly grilled former Vice President Al Gore last year over whether he stood to gain from cap and trade legislation. She's likely to be fiery today, channelling populist discontent with BP.

Paul Adams
0950: The BBC's Paul Adams in Washington I don't think the congressmen and women are in any mood to give any quarter to Mr Hayward. They're not going to express any sympathy to him. Their job is to channel the anger of the American people, and they're going to do that.

0945 Also present will be Energy and Commerce Committee chair Henry Waxman. As chair of this powerful committee, Mr Waxman is one of the most influential members of the House. He is also close to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Mr Waxman has a reputation for thorough and rigorous questioning and oversight.

0940 As chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, which is part of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Representative Bart Stupak will preside over today's hearings. Mr Stupak made a name for himself during the health care debate, where he prominently - and successfully - lobbied for stricter controls on abortion. He has since announced that he will retire at this end of this term.

0935 Here's a quick rundown on how the hearing will work. Each committee member is given the opportunity to make an opening statement. Expect very few to pass this up today. Following that, Mr Hayward will have a chance to give an opening statement. Then the questions begin. Each member will have a chance to ask, and there may be more than one round.

0930 Welcome to our live coverage of BP CEO Tony Hayward's appearance before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Capitol Hill. Mr Hayward faces a grilling by members of Congress, who will be channelling the anger and frustration of their constituents. We'll be updating this page with up-to-the-minute news, analysis from our correspondents, some of your emails, and rounding up the best blog posts and tweets.



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