Who should clean up the oil spill?

14 06 2010

Whose job is it to clean up the oil spill from April 20 (that is still continuing)?  The cleanup probably falls mostly on BP, since it is their fault.  But I find it ironic that the Obama administration has been pushing for big government (and some say outright socialism), yet he’s not doing anything about it except talking.  Here’s his chance to prove that big government will take care of the people.   If you think about it, the effect of the economic stimulus plans, the bailouts, and the universal health care plan won’t be validated for years (although we have some idea of how they have worked / failed so far).  This oil spill disaster is affecting millions of jobs, particularly involving seafood and tourism, so it has a big impact on the economy and unemployment.  This sounds like a big opportunity for President Obama to show what he can do.

But what is being done so far?  It’s been over 50 days since the explosion on the oil rig, and very little has been done to actually solve the problem.  Apparently no one really knows what to do.  BP has tried a few things, even calling one “successful” because it slowed down the oil spill (which also means the spill continues to get worse and not better).  Obama’s administration brought in James Cameron, because he directed the movie Titanic and has some expertise with undersea equipment.   But surely there are people more knowledgeable than him about such things, like the people who made the equipment and who use it in real life!  Where are those experts?  I heard that the Coast Guard is accepting ideas from everybody. Has it really come to that?  I would think surely there’s some experts somewhere who have some ideas that could be tried…  And why haven’t oil-drilling companies thought of this situation before and developed plans for it?

This past week the government ordered BP to try harder to fix it — I suppose they thought BP wasn’t trying very hard.  From the Associated Press: “The federal government has given BP until the end of the weekend to find ways to speed up efforts to contain huge amounts of oil gushing from a ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico…”  But notice how BP was informed of this new order — Coast Guard Rear Admiral James A. Watson sent a letter to BP officials expressing frustration with the overall pace of the effort and ordered the company to identify ways to expedite the process.  A letter?  Really???   That just screams high priority… there are faster options these days, like e-mail, phone calls, etc.  That just reinforces the perception that neither BP nor the government is treating this like an emergency.

President Obama said he would talk to our enemies without precondition, but he refused to meet with the CEO of BP.  That’s probably for legal reasons, in case the government brings criminal charges against BP, but it’s still quite ironic…  We know the government is considering charges against BP, because they are conducting civil and criminal investigations into BP’s preparedness for the spill.  So not only is the government not fixing the oil spill, but they are hindering BP’s executives.  Perhaps that should be done, but the timing is unfortunate, and it’s also ironic (because they may be making the recovery take longer)…

It looks like President Obama thinks he can talk himself out of his problems.  The talking isn’t fixing the oil spill.  He just toured the Gulf coast a second time, saying “things are going to return to normal” and “I am confident that we’re going to be able to leave the Gulf Coast in better shape than it was before.”  An article on MSNBC.com said “President Obama on Monday returned to the Gulf Coast to send a message that the federal government has regained control of the crisis.”  Think about that… “Regained control”?  Did they ever have control of the crisis?  And if they do have control of it, what exactly are they doing besides talking?

Also in Obama’s latest tour of the Gulf coast, he had some seafood for lunch and declared “seafood from the Gulf today is safe to eat”.  That sounds very broad and all-encompassing.  I would venture to say that not ALL seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is safe to eat.  Never mind that last week a dead oil-covered turtle washed up on shore in Louisiana.  (I know not everyone eats turtle, but some do, and regardless it illustrates the problem.)  I also read where some restaurants along the Gulf coast have put up signs saying they are not serving seafood from the Gulf.

If you’re interested in reading about how BP cut corners in shutting down this rig and how that increased the likelihood of an explosion, here’s an article about it.   There’s going to be long-term problems for BP now that such information is public.

There’s a lot more that could be said, but I’ll sum it up with one sentence: The whole thing is a big debacle.




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