I did not feel reassured this evening as President Obama gave his first speech from the Oval Office. His topic, the BP oil spill, a crisis of incredible and ever-growing magnitude. His response, after 56 days of oil gushing into the Gulf and numerous flaccid responses from oil executives awash in ignorance?
Calm, cool and collected. Okay, I get that. This is “No drama Obama.” But I felt nothing from the President tonight. Worse yet, I’m unclear as to whether his administration has a plan for dealing with the oil spill. There was no call to arms, no rally cry. There were no specifics, no call to Congress, no fire in his belly at all.
It’s obvious that BP doesn’t have a clue, but it still appears that BP is in charge. Given the lack of care with which they approached the Deepwater Horizon project
Tonight, we did not hear the strong voice from the presidential campaign, full of promise and hope.
Enough. Below are some of the President’s thoughts from this evening, and some response.
Because there has never been a leak this size at this depth, stopping it has tested the limits of human technology. That’s why just after the rig sank, I assembled a team of our nation’s best scientists and engineers to tackle this challenge — a team led by Dr. Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and our nation’s Secretary of Energy. Scientists at our national labs and experts from academia and other oil companies have also provided ideas and advice.
Spare us any more chatter about Steven Chu’s Nobel Prize, Mr. President. While certainly laudable, and while I have no doubt he’s qualified for his Cabinet position, the prize was for past accomplishments. Unless the medal he won can be used to plug the leak in the Gulf, forget about it.
As a result of these efforts, we’ve directed BP to mobilize additional equipment and technology. And in the coming weeks and days, these efforts should capture up to 90 percent of the oil leaking out of the well. This is until the company finishes drilling a relief well later in the summer that’s expected to stop the leak completely.
What exactly does that mean? What exactly were your directives to BP, Mr. President? Does this mean, up to this point, BP was not doing all it could? Is it possible BP is cutting corners again?
Tonight I’d like to lay out for you what our battle plan is going forward: what we’re doing to clean up the oil, what we’re doing to help our neighbors in the Gulf, and what we’re doing to make sure that a catastrophe like this never happens again.
First, the cleanup. From the very beginning of this crisis, the federal government has been in charge of the largest environmental cleanup effort in our nation’s history — an effort led by Admiral Thad Allen, who has almost 40 years of experience responding to disasters. We now have nearly 30,000 personnel who are working across four states to contain and clean up the oil. Thousands of ships and other vessels are responding in the Gulf. And I’ve authorized the deployment of over 17,000 National Guard members along the coast. These servicemen and women are ready to help stop the oil from coming ashore, they’re ready to help clean the beaches, train response workers, or even help with processing claims — and I urge the governors in the affected states to activate these troops as soon as possible.
Because of our efforts, millions of gallons of oil have already been removed from the water through burning, skimming and other collection methods. Over five and a half million feet of boom has been laid across the water to block and absorb the approaching oil. We’ve approved the construction of new barrier islands in Louisiana to try to stop the oil before it reaches the shore, and we’re working with Alabama, Mississippi and Florida to implement creative approaches to their unique coastlines.
As the cleanup continues, we will offer whatever additional resources and assistance our coastal states may need. Now, a mobilization of this speed and magnitude will never be perfect, and new challenges will always arise. I saw and heard evidence of that during this trip. So if something isn’t working, we want to hear about it. If there are problems in the operation, we will fix them.
But we have to recognize that despite our best efforts, oil has already caused damage to our coastline and its wildlife. And sadly, no matter how effective our response is, there will be more oil and more damage before this siege is done. That’s why the second thing we’re focused on is the recovery and restoration of the Gulf Coast.
These are more specific, but they weren’t delivered with much confidence, and his later drift to talking about a new energy policy — well, we get that. That’s old news. Now is not the time to lobby. We need to clean up this mess, resisting every GOP urge (John Boehner) to give BP a pass.
Perhaps he was simply tired Tuesday night. At any rate, I hope the President shows more spark tomorrow when he meets with BP execs. behind closed doors. If BP’s royalty don’t emerge from their meeting with POTUS looking like they just had a “Come-to-Jesus” moment, well, shame on President Obama.