BP Exec’s Trial Begins for Alleged Oil Spill Lies

     NEW ORLEANS (CN) – A jury began hearing testimony Tuesday in a federal trial over whether a former BP executive lied to federal investigators about the magnitude of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
     David Rainey, BP’s former vice president of exploration for the Gulf, faces accusations he lied to federal investigators about the rate at which BP knew the oil spill was flowing, and over whether Rainey tried to hide drastic calculations.
     A 12-member jury is expected to hear testimony focused on what Rainey knew about the magnitude of the oil spill following the April 20, 2010, explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig 50 miles offshore from Louisiana.
     Rainey originally faced an additional charge of obstruction of Congress for allegedly covering up what he knew about the magnitude of the oil spill while testifying before the U.S. House subcommittee, but that charge was dropped by the overseeing judge Monday nearly an hour after the jury was seated.
     U.S. District Judge Kurt Englehardt dismissed the charge on doubts over whether Rainey would be able to subpoena three former congressmen and six staffers to testify over whether the U.S. House subcommittee he was accused of lying to had authority to investigate the oil spill, according to the New Orleans Advocate.
     BP initially estimated 1,000 barrels of oil a day were spilling out of the broken Macondo well, but many experts, including some of BP’s own assessors, estimated much higher numbers.
     Experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, meanwhile, with only limited access to the numbers BP was privy to as owner as the well, estimated a flow rate of 5,000 barrels a day.
     Internal emails between BP flow rate experts estimate a flow rate of between 14,000 and 82,000 barrels per day. Internal emails also caution the experts to keep those numbers under wraps.
     Trial will focus on what Rainey knew and what he told federal investigators. It is slated to last three weeks.

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