May 25, 2024

As Obama Administration Obstructs Cleanup Of Gulf Oil Disaster, Some See Dark Motives

Government Thwarts Oil Cleanup – Incompetence or Calculated Political Decision?

It has been over two months since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico on April 22, 2010.  Estimates of the amount of crude oil gushing into the Gulf range from 60,000 to 100,000 barrels a day causing an ecological disaster along the entire gulf coast.   As residents fume about the slow and nonchalant government cleanup efforts, logical minds are beginning to wonder why the government does not take some common sense efforts to facilitate the cleanup.



A Government intent on facilitating the cleanup and mitigating the huge environmental damage of the oil spill would address the following:

  1. Rather than rejecting offers of foreign government help, this assistance should have been immediately accepted.
  2. Suspend EPA rules on the amount of oil allowed in discharge from skimmer boats which is preventing large amounts of oil from being recovered.  Blindly following bureaucratic rules when they do not make sense creates a general sense of incompetence.
  3. Large amounts of skimmer boats are not being allowed to participate in the cleanup efforts since by law they must be stationed elsewhere.  Exactly where else would you want the skimmer boats to be when they are urgently needed today in the Gulf?
  4. Federal authorities have hampered and restricted local efforts to contain and cleanup the oil spill based on mindless reams of regulations which make no sense under emergency conditions.

Speculation on why the government has reacted at a snail’s pace in addressing the Gulf oil disaster center on basic incompetence and at worst, a calculated political decision.   Consider the following from the Wall Street Journal:

As the government fails to implement such simple and straightforward remedies, one must ask why.

One possibility is sheer incompetence. Many critics of the president are fond of pointing out that he had no administrative or executive experience before taking office. But the government is full of competent people, and the military and Coast Guard can accomplish an assigned mission. In any case, several remedies require nothing more than getting out of the way.

Another possibility is that the administration places a higher priority on interests other than the fate of the Gulf, such as placating organized labor, which vigorously defends the Jones Act.

Finally there is the most pessimistic explanation—that the oil spill may be viewed as an opportunity, the way White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said back in February 2009, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” Many administration supporters are opposed to offshore oil drilling and are already employing the spill as a tool for achieving other goals. The websites of the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, for example, all feature the oil spill as an argument for forbidding any further offshore drilling or for any use of fossil fuels at all. None mention the Jones Act.

To these organizations and perhaps to some in the administration, the oil spill may be a strategic justification in a larger battle. President Obama has already tried to severely limit drilling in the Gulf, using his Oval Office address on June 16 to demand that we “embrace a clean energy future.” In the meantime, how about a cleaner Gulf?

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