“We don’t know what the event that has allowed for this massive oil to be released,” Perry said alongside several other governors on a panel Monday. “And until we know that, I hope we don’t see a knee-jerk reaction across this country that says we’re going to shut down drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, because the cost to this country will be staggering.” Perry questioned whether the spill was “just an act of God that occurred” and said that any “politically driven” decisions could put the U.S. in further economic peril. “From time to time there are going to be things that occur that are acts of God that cannot be prevented,” Perry said.
He later tried to walk back his comments, saying that a “mechanical failure” was possibly the cause. He nevertheless added, “I don’t think that a big wave came along at a very inopportune time and caused…but I don’t know that.” He also said that BP has “historically had a very good safety record from my perspective,” even though a BP refinery in Texas released more than 400 pounds a day of benzene over a 40-day period from early April to mid May 2010.
In 2009, BP donated $250,000 to restore Perry’s “arson-burned” mansion — the largest contribution from more than 400 businesses and individuals who gave to the project. According to the Houston Chronicle, in 2005, Perry announced “that the Texas Enterprise Fund would give BP America up to $ 750,000 to create 150 jobs as it spins off its chemicals business,” although it was soon revealed that 50 of those jobs were for people who already worked for BP and lived in the area. Critics said it was “a classic case of getting paid for doing what you’re going to do anyway.”