Climate

President’s weekly address: “First and foremost, what led to this disaster was a breakdown of responsibility on the part of BP and perhaps others, including Transocean and Halliburton.”

Obama misses another chance to reframe the debate

But even as we continue to hold BP accountable, we also need to hold Washington accountable….

If the laws on our books are inadequate to prevent such an oil spill, or if we didn’t enforce those laws – I want to know it.  I want to know what worked and what didn’t work in our response to the disaster, and where oversight of the oil and gas industry broke down. We know, for example, that a cozy relationship between oil and gas companies and agencies that regulate them has long been a source of concern.

In his weekly address (video below), Obama makes clear who is primarily to blame here (see “Should you believe anything BP says?“).

But he has taken a bold step to ensure that the country learns about all of the mistakes made this devastating environmental disaster, including those by his Administration.

Obama has named former two-term Florida governor (and former Senator) Bob Graham and Former EPA Administrator (under Pres. George H. W. Bush) William K. Reilly as co-chairs of his bipartisan National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.  These strike me as good choices.  Reilly is the last of a dying breed — a Republican with genuine environmental street-cred.

Needless to say, his immediate predecessor never showed such curiosity about his myriad mistakes, such as the response to Katrina.

Daniel Weiss, CAP’s Director of Climate Strategy — who first proposed the commission idea on May 4 — say today the Commission is “essential to understanding the causes behind, and responsibility for, this human, economic and ecological tragedy….  The BP oil disaster is a stark reminder of the human, economic and ecological costs of our oil dependence. We will continue to work with the Obama Administration and Congress to adopt policies that permanently reduce our oil dependence, which will save families money and enhance our national security.”

I will be doing a couple of posts in the next few days on the issue of blame — blame for the disaster itself and for the response, though on the latter I’m mostly with 20-year veteran of the Coast Guard Dr. Robert Brulle: “With a spill of this magnitude and complexity, there is no such thing as an effective response.”

Here’s Obama’s full address:

Once again, the president skips the opportunity to reframe the energy debate (see “Is Obama blowing his best chance to shift the debate from the dirty, unsafe energy of the 19th century to the clean, safe energy of the 21st century?“).

The ultimate political must-read for insider’s, Mike Allen’s Playbook from Politico, said this morning:

Supporters of an energy bill think the Gulf gusher makes their ARGUMENT more compelling, but the SAUSAGE-MAKING more problematic (i.e., you needed more offshore drilling to make the vote math work in the Senate, and you obviously don’t have that anymore). So now these advocates are switching their focus from the Hill to the White House, and are urging President Obama to use the disaster as an argument for a bill that would give him the THIRD of his TOP THREE priorities before midterms. Here’s their case:

PIVOT POINT: Can the White House win the finger-pointing contest around the Gulf oil spill? To date, the White House strategy has had two key elements: Demonstrate competence (avoid Katrina), and hold BP responsible. With oil washing up on the Gulf shores and increasing questions about the size and magnitude of the disaster, some observers are wondering if it isn’t time for President Obama to seize control of a deteriorating narrative. One solution: Step up in a bigger way on his promise to deliver comprehensive energy legislation, by reframing the debate over the spill from “who’s at fault” to “how we fix this problem in the long run.” Moving in this direction would shift the conversation away from a situation over which they have no control, to a key administration priority and a legislative debate that they can shape and drive.

The buzz on the DC streets is that the pivot is coming in June.  We’ll see.

Related Posts:

  • The commission will be focused on the necessary environmental and safety precautions we must build into our regulatory framework in order to ensure an accident like this never happens again, taking into account the other investigations concerning the causes of the spill.
  • The commission will have bipartisan co-chairs with a total membership of seven people. Membership will include broad and diverse representation of individuals with relevant expertise. No sitting government employees or elected officials will sit on the commission.
  • The Commission’s work will be transparent and subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act.  The Commission will issue a report within six months of having been convened.

42 Responses to President’s weekly address: “First and foremost, what led to this disaster was a breakdown of responsibility on the part of BP and perhaps others, including Transocean and Halliburton.”

  1. Joe Solomon says:

    Joe, Can you share more about “the buzz on the DC streets is that the pivot is coming in June.” At 350.org, we’re helping to coordinate the lively and ready-for-action group 1 Million Strong Against Offshore Drilling Facebook Group (http://www.facebook.com/dontdrill) If there’s a pivot we could add pressure too, online and/or in-the-streets, we’d be thrilled to unleash our peeps. Thanks!

  2. Bob Wallace says:

    “Once again, the president skips the opportunity to reframe the energy debate….”

    Would that be a smart move, to come out guns ablaze against fossil fuels at the moment? Might that not bring out all the pro-fossil fuel interests in open PR battle mode?

    Might it not be better to let this play out as it will and let people concentrate on the environmental danger of oil extraction without creating a distracting fight?

    Perhaps best to not dilute the message by tacking other things to it?

    [JR: Say whatever else you want to about Obama, pro and con, he is the best progressive speechmaker in a generation — though not the best communicator, at least not yet. I have no doubt whatsoever he can write a compelling speech that does everything needed.]

  3. mike roddy says:

    Bob, I see no problem with fighting the oil companies in the open, with guns blazing. For all of their propping up of crooked politicians, plenty of Americans have become fed up with the oil companies, even before the disaster in the Gulf. They are a rough and mangy bunch, and would probably gain respect for someone who actually stood up to them. Sure they’ll fight back- but maybe the truth can win this time.

    For Obama to go ahead and take them on would be good politics, as well as the right thing to do. It’s about time somebody did.

  4. Leif says:

    I fully agree Mike. It is not like the Fossil Industry is in the ring with kid gloves.

  5. Bob Wallace says:

    Mike – I see absolutely no problem with fighting the oil companies in the open, with guns blazing.

    Please re-read my post. I’m questioning the timing.

    Right at this moment fossil fuels are suffering an immense public relations catastrophe. Think it wise to throw out a bright shiny object that might serve to distract people from the mess flowing from the ocean floor?

    The fight will come as the climate bill works its way through Congress. Odds are, based on past performance, Obama will win. Don’t you agree?

  6. While we are contemplating here all the politics, the agonies and damages the oil spill in the Gulf is causing, let’s think a little deeper, about the ocean itself.
    We use the ocean as dumping grounds, we use the oceans to get our sea foods, we use the oceans for recreation, and it gives us access to some of our oil supply, but we forgot that the ocean is a living thing, perhaps the most crucial element of this Earth.
    US Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas said long ago that: “Trees should have standing” too in the courts of law to be protected as equals, not just be used by humanity. The same should be said now about the ocean. We have forgotten how crucial the ocean is to the life of this limited Earth.
    The oceans keep us alive.
    The oceans cover 71% of the Earth surface, its average depth is 12,000 feet, and it is the most significant absorber of carbon gas. The oceans stabilize the global temperatures because of their massive energy mass. And the oceans supply most of the oxygen to the earth living things, and the oceans drive the global water cycle.
    The oceans have been stabilized by nature over millions of years and kept this Earth livable. We have been playing with this gift of nature and it is deteriorating in front of our eyes in speeds never experienced before in nature, possibly a thousand times aster than previous massive global changes.
    We have overfished most of all the edible fish supplies in the oceans. We are draining much of our poisonous fertilizers into the ocean creating massive dead zones devoid of living things.
    We have damped so many plastics that there a “Plastic Central” in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a vast pool of plastic junk covering hundreds of square miles, interfering with the natural flow of marine life.
    And we have succeeded to rise the ocean temperature [the upper 2,000 feet] by over half a degree C, a very significant amount for the vastness of the oceans.
    And to top it of, our global CO2 emissions increased the ocean acidity sufficiently to damage the skeletons of marine organisms and killing of many corrals colonies, the breading grounds of many fish and other sea life.
    The temperature rise, and the related changes of natural near- shore upwelling of ocean waters is decreasing the supply of nutrition, the most basic food chain for ocean organism, thus decreasing the ocean food production.
    Major oil spills get notorious attention, but beyond the US there are ongoing smaller oil spills in nearly every oil region in coastal areas and in the oceans that are accepted as normal, and no one is allowed to do anything to stop them. They are just part of our business as usual approach to environmental damages. This is happening for some time even in Canada!
    The ocean used to absorb 60% of global CO2, but now it can absorb just 55% because of its higher temperature and higher acidity.
    And these are just some of the ways we treat our life-giving oceans.

    You combine all of these assaults on the oceans and they are losing their ability to sustain us as global climate stabilizer and the main protein supplier for billions of people.
    How long this can go on without permanent damage to the oceans?

  7. Lara Mulawka says:

    Matania, Your post is right on. Thank you for your insight. Clearly, this damage cannot continue. Permanent damage has already occurred. We are witnessing mass extinctions on levels never seen. If we are to survive as a human race, we must stop drilling for oil. Clearly, we must abandon oil, gas and coal all together and use only clean renewable energy.

  8. Wit's End says:

    Bob Wallace said
    “Might that not bring out all the pro-fossil fuel interests in open PR battle mode?”

    Haven’t they been for decades??

  9. Chris Dudley says:

    Sadly, he has predetermined the outcome on the investigation. Offshore drilling must continue according to him. Give me the needed assurances he says. The rather obvious fact that no assurances of the safety of offshore drilling can be given is off the table. So, from the beginning, the committee is being required to make stuff up. There is nothing wrong with Hope, but Wishful Thinking of this sort only leads to more disasters.

  10. Bob Wallace says:

    Chris – How do we shut down offshore drilling everywhere in the world?

    How do we force the world to settle for a fraction of the oil they now divide?

    Just in the US alone, how could a president drastically cut the supply of oil and not turn the government over to Republicans who would immediately start drilling once more?

    Give me some reasonable solutions please….

  11. substanti8 says:

    Same old, same old:

    [snip]

    [JR: Quote the whole thing or not at all. The reason these suggestions were not enacted into law is because of who was president at the time. Seriously.]

  12. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    The fact that Obama chooses not to end offshore drilling is scarcely surprising, given the demerits of such a policy.

    1/. It would promptly export the drilling capacity to foreign oil reserves, where regulation is often still feebler or non-existent, thus costing US jobs and economic activity, and raising funding of and dependence on depleting foreign oil supplies, and, predictably, raising the net impact on the world’s oceans.

    2/. It would be potentially lethal to his chance of a second-term, and of avoiding a new Palinesque republican presidency, if oil depletion globally removes the market cushion by the autumn of 2012 causing the next oil price spike, and he’s forced to try to justify his ban on offshore drilling during the election campaign.

    3/. In terms of priorities for climate mitigation, taking flac for choking off the coal industry would be far more productive than doing so for banning the leading edge of the US oil industry.

    Given these realities, who here would, in Obama’s position, go ahead and ban the offshore industry rather than stringently reforming its operating proceedures and ramping up fuel conservation measures ?

    He won’t, but then he’s acting in the knowledge that global warming is actually a global issue, for which, regardless of popular assumptions to the contrary, there are no unilateral national solutions: only the global negotiation of a global treaty offers the chance of its resolution.

    Regards,

    Lewis

  13. catman306 says:

    Put an offshore drilling tax on each barrel. To help pay for the cleanup.

    Tax behavior that is of questionable social value.

  14. Chad says:

    Drilling is going to happen folks, and frankly, it should. Let’s assume that this spill does a $100 billion in damage, which is a reasonable estimate, being several times that of the Exxon Valdez. On the other hand, even with our pathetic royalty rates, that’s still only a year or two’s worth of tax revenue from these projects, once you factor in the corporate, capital gains, and income taxes. These accidents occur on decadal time scales, which shows that even now the cost-benefit of oil is widely positive. It is coal where it fails, and coal which must be killed.

    Environmentalists should instead propose a grand bargain: drilling in return for painfully high taxes and royalties (after all, it is OUR oil), and the use of all of these revenues for convervation and environmental projects. A ~$50 billion dollar a year revenue stream dedicated to these projects would be a huge accelerator for them.

    In the end, we are going to burn all the resonably available oil and natural gas. We are better off just accepting this, and harnessing it to our advantage.

  15. Pangloss says:

    A slightly less flattering view of Mr. Obama and his halting response to latest oil disaster at True/Slant:

    http://bit.ly/ddwrvM

    [JR: Not terribly informed or well-reasoned. Being on the board of an oil company as the token environmentalist is hardly a strike against Reilly.]

  16. catman306 says:

    Chad, we don’t want to burn all the petroleum. Anyway, expanding dead-zones and deserts will probably prevent humans from extracting the last barrel. Something will evolve from all of this. I hope.

  17. Robert Brulle says:

    It appears that the actual visible part of the oil spill is now starting to occur. The political response is most likely to hinge on two factors;

    1. Will BP succeed in effectively plugging the leak with their latest attempt? This is probably their last, best hope till the long slow drilling effort (which takes about 90-120 days)could be effective. So we are either looking at an end to the gusher soon, or tow – three more months of spills.

    2. The oil appears to be headed ashore west of the Mississippi. This will likely provide graphic visual evidence of the oil spill in the form of massive harm to wildlife.

    If BP fails and the photographs provide graphic visual documentation of the spill’s impacts, all bets are off regarding containing the political fallout of this spill. So the pivot point might come before June. The key will be when we see Senator Landrieu start hedging her support of the offshore drilling industry. Then we know big change is afoot.

    My guess is that Obama is waiting to see what happens with the last effort to effectively stop the spill quickly. If it fails and the photos are graphic enough, then he might shift.

    As far as 350.org and Joe Solomon’s comment – The greatest thing that could happen would be for an outsider environmental group, like 350.org, to set up some sort of massive rally on the mall. No music groups needed. Just good speakers who can articulate our outrage, and project a different sort of sustainable economy, not dependent on the fuels of our great grandfathers, i.e. fossil fuels.

    In sociology, we have an actual concept to describe the effect of a more radical movement getting out front of the mainstream. It is called the “radical flank effect.” By initiating highly visible action that demands more substantial action than the mainstream is lobbying for, these groups can really move the debate. The old mainstream looks conservative by comparison, and this can reframe the entire debate. So if 350.org and others can pull something together, you can create the pivot point by getting out ahead of Obama and the old mainstream environmental groups.

  18. Robert Brulle says:

    P.S. – Joe – if 350.org organizes it, I’ll be there!

  19. unreal2r says:

    Sadly, I am forced to agree with James Hansen’s most recent observation. It is becoming increasingly clear that Obama “doesn’t get it.”

    http://whyy.org/cms/radiotimes/2010/05/20/dr-james-hansen-on-the-storms-of-my-grandchildren/

  20. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Robert at #17

    It would be a great and welcome change to see 350.org pulling together the proposed rally but, large BUT, if it were to demand a ban on oil drilling, rather than stringent new regulation on drilling plus comensurate action specifically against coal, it could further fragment the democratic vote: Obama’s predictable refusal would disillusion many more young people and further sap the will of the youth vote.

    I’d add here that I detest the oil lobby as much as anyone, but this is a pivotal period and goals need really careful selection.

    At #12 above I layed out some reasons why Obama cannot ban offshore drilling – and unless you’d consider the greatly increased risk of a GOP success in the 2012 election to be a worthwhile price for a brief ban, you may well agree.

    There are of course a range of positive actions that Obama is ignoring with no such obvious risks – from re-framing the debate and providing public education to having the EPA require the use of the many idle gas-power stations to avoid the cocktail of pollutants from coal-power.

    Quite why he ignores those options is a question I’ve tried several times to get discussed – after all, if we don’t identify what constrains him, how can we hope to get him to meet his responsibilities ? Thus far the topic of what constrains him hasn’t attracted much interest at all – maybe people aren’t really bothered enough yet ?

    Regards,

    Lewis

  21. Bill Waterhouse says:

    Short-term we need to keep producing some oil. But there’s a big difference between producing offshore oil from shallow and deep ocean waters. Let’s leave the deep water oil reserves alone — they’re not going anywhere left undisturbed — until we have proven technology to stop blowouts and quickly mitigate spills. Perhaps when we finally produce the deep water oil safely we will use it for smarter uses than combustion.

    One result of the just emerging evidence of the horrible impacts of the spill on the marshes and ocean will be political. The Santa Barbara spill decades ago changed California politics forever. The emergence of an environmental movement in the coastal South as a response to the spill is now almost a certainty, with huge future political implications for future energy policy and climate change legislation and the 2010 and 2012 elections. I hope and pray Obama and his advisors seize the moment.

  22. Leif says:

    Lewis, I will dive in although I feel I have little to offer that I have not already spoken of.

    What constrains President Obama from acting more aggressively on Global Warming? I do not believe as suggested above that he “does not get it.” He is smart and surrounded by good people. So I dismiss that avenue although at times I must admit do wonder.

    My most obvious suggestion is the constraints of the economy, jobs and unemployment, and the general sensitivity of the world financial stability. He must be walking on eggs and is being super cautious to not bring the whole tumbling down with a stupid statement. The US economy has shown steady improvement though far from robust, which is far to much to ask for considering the starting point. I would think that his strategy is to continue to make improvements where he knows he can get a modem of success and get the public to have some confidence in the function of government in general and Democrats in particular before he wants to go out on a limb with the fossil industry frothing at the mouth and chain saws in hand.
    Reports are coming out that show economic advantages of a green economy. National Security advantages. Health and job benefits. And more. All of which were or would have been suppress under the last administration. I do feel that pressure should be applied to the media to cover this information but again doing so may only get reported in the negative considering the limited ownership of the media.

    I guess what it comes down to in my view is for us to do what we are doing. Organize, demonstrate, educate, write letters, and change people one on one as hopeless as it seams at times.

  23. Andy says:

    Why not halt deep water drilling in U.S. waters until the industry can prove it is safe? I doubt it would make a difference in the price of oil. It would cripple what is probably a multi-billion dollar industry. But, it would finally get the attention of the oil companies and get them off their butts when it comes to environmental safe guards. The technology developed could then be used all over the world. That would be something good. As it is now the oil industry gets a free ride (look also at Ecaudor and Nigeria).

    The news folks in Houston (probably at the suggestion of some local companies) are now starting to patch together a boogey man of tighter regulations (Though how in the hell can you argue against that?) and new oil excise taxes to pay for this and future messes.

    http://www.khou.com/news/local/Experts-Oil-spill-will-have-lasting-effect-on-Houston-94664569.html

    I read the suggestion about using offshore royalties or taxes to pay for environmental projects. We already have that with the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Problem is that congress never funds the program and instead spends the money collected for it elsewhere. Maybe this would be a good opportunity to fight for fully funding it and expanding its cap to boot.

  24. mike roddy says:

    Bill Waterhouse,

    Good comment. It hadn’t even occurred to me that Gulf Coast residents would end up taking a serious stand against offshore drilling as a result of this blowout. You’re right, though- Santa Barbara was also politically conservative 40 years ago.

    Robert Brulle, I also like your pointing to Landrieu as an indicator here. She appears to have few principles, but her stand is likely to reflect what the voters want, which will be key.

    Bob Wallace, I agree that Obama can win this one. The issue is whether, like any good general, he can reinforce success and step up the aggression. As horrifying as this event has been, it’s too good an opportunity to enable actual change, instead of just talking about it.

  25. Chris Dudley says:

    Bob (#10),

    You ask how to shut down offshore drilling around the world. That is not so difficult but that was not my complaint. I see that President Obama has insisted that drilling here continue. We have a history of partly controlling offshore drilling so a complete ban is not out of the question except that the President makes it so. This is a question of a US commission considering US actions the range of which have been limited by the President’s charge to the commission.

    If you want to shut down offshore drilling worldwide, just force the price of oil below $10/barrel. You have to go that low because the standoff distance in Nigeria is not set by where the oil is but by the range of rebel boats which attack offshore rigs. They might be able to make money at an oil price of $15/barrel in shallow near shore waters if forced by a low oil price to make peace.

    Getting the world price of oil below $20/barrel pretty much ends all this deep water foolishness and that would be a good start.

    Now, $20/barrel oil would be tremendously popular here in the US and the President can deliver it by invoking our Standby Gasoline Rationing Plan. Cut 3 million barrels a day of US consumption and the price of oil tumbles owing to too much idle production capacity for the Saudi’s to accept. They can still make money at $8/barrel but not if too much equipment is idle. If the US adopted a low oil price policy, it would end nearly all offshore drilling around the world.

  26. Chris Dudley says:

    Lewis (#12),

    I hardly think that President Obama is thinking about saving shorelines in other countries by sacrificing our own. He has bought into the idea that we need to produce our own oil. He may have also bought into the idea that domestic oil production provides jobs but actually it costs jobs. Domestic oil production supports high oil prices because domestic production is so costly. High oil prices are a drag on economic activity and so jobs are lost across the economy in much greater numbers than any oil sector job retention we might experience. Better to cut consumption to the point where the oil price is low, killing the domestic oil industry but gaining much more in a more active economy and improved balance of trade.

  27. caerbannog says:

    Apologies for the off-topic post, but here’s a video clip of a worthless GOP hack congressperson smearing climate scientists at a House hearing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKo25YkjQ9o

    Those of you who are on blood-pressure medication might want to pop an extra pill before watching it.

  28. Bbhy says:

    The cleanup will cost what, about $20 billion? We should be spending that much each year setting up electric car chargers. The cars are coming. Having a network of chargers will ensure that the electrics rollout is successful, reducing demand for oil from all sources. We get oil from offshore drilling, foreign imports, and tar sands and all of those are problems! Let’s do something that addresses all three!

    We also need (desperately!) to get off coal. Let’s get this revolution moving!

  29. fj2 says:

    “More Than Just an Oil Spill,” Bob Herbert, New York Times, May 21, 2010

    “It permeates and undermines the ecosystem in much the same way that big corportations have permeated and undermined our political system with similarly devastating results.”

    . . .

    “We take our whippings in stride in this country. We behave as though there is nothing we can do about it.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/22/opinion/22herbert.html

  30. Chris Dudley says:

    Chad (#14),

    I certainly don’t want to propose painfully high royalties or whatever you have in mind. High gasoline prices are impoverishing. Because they are, they kill economic activity. This seems to be a proposal of the oil companies who know that people will buy gasoline before they by food or medicine because they have to get to work. They want to blame high gasoline prices on environmentalist. I would much much rather see gasoline prices fall to the point where it is not possible to make a profit on offshore drilling. That would boost consumer spending and tax revenues generally which would provide plenty to spend on transitioning off of oil.

  31. PSU Grad says:

    ““We take our whippings in stride in this country. We behave as though there is nothing we can do about it.”

    I disagree. We behave as though there is nothing we WANT TO do about it. With all due respect to those who’ve posted here (and I agree with the sentiments, but…..), there’s a real world out there. It’s a real world where some people are driving unconscionably huge SUVs, using fuel as though there were no tomorrow, with a seeming lack of caring about anyone or anything else. Just yesterday I was passed on the highway by a Hummer H3 with the license plate “BURNIN 1”. What he was “burnin” I have no idea, but I know what I thought.

    As another anecdote, my niece and nephew’s school district is making drastic cuts to all the arts programs. Every form of music program is being slashed or eliminated except for…..the band. Why the band? The band is useful for the sports programs, which didn’t get cut.

    Where am I going with this, you ask? Here. What’s happening at that school district is the result of selfishness. Selfishness on the part of taxpayers who don’t want to pay a dime for anything but want, want, want. Selfishness on the part of a teacher’s union that won’t even consider renegotiating an agreement that prevents teachers from working these extracurriculars for free if they so choose. Selfishness on the part of school board members who would rather see public education just go away. Or look at Texas. We don’t care what the kids really learn, so long as they learn US history the way WE think they should learn it.

    We need to change the culture of selfishness first. We had unity, for a brief period, after 9/11. And it was brutally, and I think intentionally, squandered. Until we rid ourselves of this “I got mine, Jack!” mentality, we’ll go absolutely nowhere.

    As a final example, has anyone gotten a good answer from any Tea Party devotee as to why they’ve not protested on Wall Street? Or in front of BP USA headquarters? Here’s why. Because FreedomWorks, run by Dick Armey, hasn’t told them to. FreedomWorks is funded by corporate interests, so the last thing the Tea Party will do is look at or complain about corporate malfeasance. It’s not part of their “business plan”. It’s so much easier to rail against the government. The best description I’ve heard about Tea Party people is that they’re the “wealthy and the well protected”, and that seems to be the case. This is not a “bottom up” grassroots movement, it’s a “top down” command and control movement.

    Until more people start caring, we’ll stay with the status quo. Sorry for the long-windedness, I felt some things just needed to be said.

  32. unreal2r says:

    Enough with waiting for a Kumbaya epiphany. PSU is on the right track. Just look at the cast of characters in this latest debacle. Transocean, a corporation that recently moved its headquarters to Switzerland to avoid US taxes and just declared a billion dollar dividend. Halliburton, the poster child for corporate communism. And BP, a foreign corporation with an environmental track record Atilla the Hun would be envious of. Start by freezing their assets. Don’t just make them “responsible”, make them accountable. Sue their pants off. Turn this into the biggest corporate yard sale since Roosevelt (Teddy).

  33. Wit's End says:

    “Also Saturday, BP told federal regulators it plans to continue using a contentious chemical dispersant, despite orders from the Environmental Protection Agency to look for less toxic alternatives. BP said in a letter to the EPA that Corexit 9500 ‘remains the best option for subsea application.'”

    I just read this on HuffPo. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/23/gulf-oil-spill-cleaning-w_n_586240.html

    WHO is running this country? Last I saw, the Environmental Prostitution Agency ORDERED them to stop using that chemical. Now, BP says tant pis and the EPA has “no comment?”

    I feel like I am living in an insane asylum! Put those criminals in jail somebody please!

  34. fj2 says:

    32. PSU Grad, ” . . . until more people start caring, we’ll stay with the status quo.”

    Absolutely. Change will likely come from a combination of several things; a moral sense, practicality, and self-interest among other things.

  35. unreal2r says:

    Better, Wit’s End (#33), put them in Gitmo.

    Declare that they are “enemy combatants”, or something reasonably similar, and frog march them off to Camp Xray.

    The President of BP defended their right to use the dispersant on the theory that the EPA’s ban somehow violated BP’s confidential business practices.

    He sounds like he needs to spend some time in an orange jump suit confidentially contemplating his future under the watchful eyes of Marine guards.

    I wonder if Oilboarding is banned under the Geneva Conventions.

  36. wrb says:

    These comments leave me pessimistic about there being any hope for a climate change bill.

    One isn’t going to pass without pro-drilling votes. The new offshore drilling and nuclear plants were the bribes that made the green investments carbon reductions possible.

    It sounds like people here want to punish the oil companies even if it means killing hope of real progress for the foreseeable future.

  37. SecularAnimist says:

    Chad wrote: “In the end, we are going to burn all the resonably available oil and natural gas. We are better off just accepting this, and harnessing it to our advantage.”

    It is appropriate that you began the first sentence with “in the end”.

    Because if we do burn all the “reasonably available” oil and natural gas, that’s exactly what it will mean: THE END of human civilization, and more likely than not, the mass extinction of most life on Earth.

    Accept that and harness it to your advantage.

  38. SecularAnimist says:

    With regard to comments about what the “cleanup” will cost and estimates of “damages”:

    There can be no “cleanup”. This disaster cannot be “cleaned up”. Multiple ecosystems are being POISONED. This is about the sickness and death of some of the world’s most vital ecosystems, not about “cleaning up” anything.

    And the damages are incalculable.

  39. PurpleOzone says:

    BP gives the appearance of having no idea what they were doing. Did they have no scientists who knew the research on the environment they were going into? The methane hydrates freezing surprised them.

    They should have known the expected pressure of the well they were drilling and been able to provide a sensible estimate of the volume of leaks from the start. Instead they used the coy phrase, “5000 barrels a day, as estimated by the government”. Nuts. How could they prepare for the well if they didn’t know how much oil and stuff, under what pressure, would be coming out?

    Oil companies make enough money to have basic knowledge of the physics and the chemistry of the environments where they work. It sure doesn’t show in the case of BP. They never should have had a license to dig a flower bed in somebody’s back yard.

  40. Joobie says:

    Wow, I just saw Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal on TV landing a boat on a pelican rookery. All the while in the background you can see and hear laughing gulls. The governor’s disturbance of that rookery surely caused tens of nests to be pillaged by the gulls as the parents were scared off their nests. He was going on about needing dredges to build protective sand berms.

    A 30″ dredge can build maybe 300′ of levee in a day. Maybe, but doubtful. And the oil will simply follow the currents into what few passes are left open. Given the number of dredges in the U.S. and how quickly they can be gotten down here (weeks to months), and how quickly they can build a berm, and that we would need hundreds of miles of berm, and that in many cases the dredging will do more immediate harm than the oil, it is pretty easy to see this proposal is absurd.

    Once oil gets into the marshes, there isn’t much to be done. The good news is that it won’t kill them forever as has been oft quoted. They’ll recover in a year or so, though their productivity will be lessened for the foreseeable future.

    Here’s the goods on that claim:

    http://galveston.ssp.nmfs.gov/publications/pdf/794.pdf

    BTW: the Galveston NMFS lab has all their pubs on line and they are a wealth of information on the subject of Gulf fisheries and marshes, esp. authors Minello and Rozas:

    http://galveston.ssp.nmfs.gov/publications/index.asp

    I hope the federal govt. comes down hard on the oil industry. Of course the BP spill is a gnat’s ass compared to the damage the industry has already done to Gulf marshes. Subsidence, or ground sinking, caused by oil extraction (the ground sinks when you take oil out just like poking a hole in a water bed), cutting tens of thousands of channels into the marsh, carving huge shipping canals; all of these actions have caused thousands of square miles of permanent marsh drowning and conversion to open water. And unlike the oil spill’s affects, that is forever.

    I pity the folks I see on TV in Louisiana getting angry over the spill. Although many of those same folks consider (considered?) the oil industry their bread and butter. I say toss that tar baby to them and let them catch it. Shut down the deepwater industry completely and tax the hell out of domestic production and imported oil in order to pay to repair some of the damage.

    How to repair the damage? Read some of Rozas’s pubs regarding using dredges to recreate or create marshes by building back the land. It can be done though it would take centuries. Regardless, all of this will be under water soon if Louisiana doesn’t finally bite the bullet and allow the Mississippi to flow unfettered into the Atchafalaya Bay; and if we don’t stop global warming and its attendent sea level rise. Most of the marshes in question are “dead man walking” given the amount of sea level rise we’re already committed to.

  41. Andy Olsen says:

    While studies and commissions are fine, we need action now on the damaged rig as well as the other rigs operated in the Gulf. 60 Minutes and others have spotlighted the dangerous Atlantis rig, also run by BP, as being potentially far worse if things go wrong. The rig manufacture is suspect and the documentation is flawed.

    And another question: Will we have to go through a similar educational process with nuclear power? Will it take another nuclear accident to provide adequate oversight of the industry?

  42. Tom S. says:

    Obama is missing an even larger historic opportunity: A golden chance to strike a blow against the core conservative mantra “Government is the Problem.”

    What ties together the BP spill, the Massey Coal explosion & the economic bubble-burst? How about this simple equation:

    Deregulation + Regulatory Capture => Unregulated Greed* => Disaster

    Or distilled down to a bumper sticker: “DEREGULATION KILLS.”

    The dazzling, chronic failures of progressive messaging — on all fronts — continue to amaze.

    ——————-
    * credit Drew Westen, via CP and HuffPost, for the turgid phrase “unregulated greed.” CP’s blogs on rhetoric should be required reading for all Dems.