The Florida Democrat appeared on CNN today and said Big Oil has stymied congressional efforts to crack down on safety.
"Big oil wants its way," Nelson said. "They've been trying to bully their way to drill off the coast of Florida... "Big oil has had its way with the regulators, there's been a cozy relationship between the regulators and MMS," he said, referring to a 2008 investigation into the federal agency, which found employees took trips and gifts from and engaged in sex and drug use with industry representatives.
Nelson said "congressional hearings were "what a number of us have been calling for. And we could never get to first base because big oil would flex its muscle, call in its votes and we could never get anything done. Tragically, it's going to take this disastrous oil spill to finally clamp down on it."
Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby meanwhile, suggested it was the White House's responsibility. Although no cause has yet been identified for the explosion, Shelby charged, "a lot of this could have been prevented. I don't know where the regulators were on this, they certainly were asleep," he said. "And where was BP? Were they trying to do this on the cheap?"
He disputed host Candy Crowley's assertion that Congress was responsible for the regulators. "We're not in
charge of the regulators. We have oversight," Shelby said. "The executive branch is
in charge of the regulators."