Friday, June 11, 2010

Obama Incompetence and blame

*Never thought I'd see the day. The media is turning on Obama. And nowhere is it more stunningly evident than in this astounding article by Rolling Stone on the Gulf oil spill. The Obama administration has been loudly declaring that the spill is all Bush's fault and that the White House is adequately covering the ecological disaster. Rolling Stone, however, isn't buying any of it. As their devastating article makes clear, Obama is fully to blame for what has gone wrong.

It was Obama - not Bush - who authorized BP to begin drilling in the Gulf. And it was Obama - not Bush - who refused to clean up the Minerals Management Service ("MMS") which oversees oil drilling in America. Long before Obama took office, the MMS had been revealed as massively corrupt. Instead of policing oil companies, MMS had instead allowed the companies to do that themselves (amazingly, the companies were allowed to write the 'investigation' reports in pencil, whereupon MMS would simply copy over it in ink). In exchange for this, MMS officials were given cash, drugs and sex - and oil companies like BP were allowed to drill without proper safety precautions.

Amid great fanfare, Obama appointed Ken Salazar as Interior Secretary to clean up this corruption. Salazar's orders were explicit - force the offshore oil companies to adhere to proper safety standards and clean up MMS. Unfortunately, Salazar did neither. As the article reveals in devastating detail, Salazar not only allowed the oil companies to continue ignoring safety standards, he even increased the amount of offshore drilling to higher levels than any previous administration. As for MSS? Salazar made only token 'cleanup' of the agency; corrupt individuals were allowed to keep their jobs and, sadly, continue the lax oversight of the past. Result? A Gulf oil spill which now is on track to becoming this nation's worst ecological disaster ever.

The bitter irony is that Obama allowed this deadly offshore drilling in order to help the environment. Obama, it turns out, was desperate to pass his 'Cap & Trade' environmental bill in the next few months; however, he knew he couldn't do it unless he had the oil companies on board. Ergo, he made a Faustian deal with them - if he would allow them to drill offshore, they would not oppose his 'Cap & Trade' bill. (And we can all see how well that turned out.)

What amazes me, however, about Rolling Stone's article is not that it covers all this in extreme detail (8 pages but worth the read) but that it blasts Obama for his role in it. Rolling Stone's anger at Obama is evident in every page - which is truly surprising; up until now, the magazine has been one of Obama's most fervent admirers. That admiration, however, has now officially ground to a halt. Folks, it's official. The media is finally admitting that the Emperor has no clothes.

Like the attacks by Al Qaeda, the disaster in the Gulf was preceded by ample warnings – yet the administration had ignored them. Instead of cracking down on MMS, as he had vowed to do even before taking office, Obama left in place many of the top officials who oversaw the agency's culture of corruption. He permitted it to rubber-stamp dangerous drilling operations by BP – a firm with the worst safety record of any oil company – with virtually no environmental safeguards, using industry-friendly regulations drafted during the Bush years. He calibrated his response to the Gulf spill based on flawed and misleading estimates from BP – and then deployed his top aides to lowball the flow rate at a laughable 5,000 barrels a day, long after the best science made clear this catastrophe would eclipse the Exxon Valdez.

It's tempting to believe that the Gulf spill, like so many disasters inherited by Obama, was the fault of the Texas oilman who preceded him in office. But, though George W. Bush paved the way for the catastrophe, it was Obama who gave BP the green light to drill. "Bush owns eight years of the mess," says Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican from California. "But after more than a year on the job, Salazar owns it too."

**American Thinker

June 10, 2010
Options to plug the BP oil spill available, but Obama ignores them
Tom Rowan

-Natural oil eating bacteria was successfully used to clean up the ocean and shores after the Exxon Valdez accident. To date, the company which produces up to 200,000 gallons a day of the oil eating bacteria has not had their phone calls returned by Obama's White House or BP.

-Kevin Costner has a small fleet of oil cleaning centrifuges at the ready. This device actually recovers lost oil. Again, Obama's White House is dithering and BP will not return Costner's appeals. Costner testified in front of Congress that he was ready to help on day one of the spill over 50 days ago.

-The Dutch government offered to help with the spill on day one. Obama and BP told them "no thanks" over 50 days ago. The Dutch have fleets of oil recovery barges and sand berm protection floats at the ready. Over 50 days of dithering.

-BP's first attempted fix was to drop a 4 story tall steel & concrete box on the leak. The siphon on the top of the box froze and would not take up the oil. How bout leaving the damn 4 story concrete box on top of the leaking pipes?

-A 1920 maritime law prevents the US Navy from deploying any assistance to the scene. Obama could wave this relic law of the sea and use the Navy's expertise in deep waters. Obama will not waive the law. Why not? If Ted Kennedy can call in the US Navy to find JFK Jr's downed airplane, how come Obama cannot call in the Navy? What is stopping him?

-Governor Jindal has been begging Obama for supplies to shield his state's beaches. Over 50 days after the request Obama is still dithering.

-Obama declared a State of Emergency for the non-existent threat of Swine Flu. Governor Jindal declared a State of come Obama has not?

These are but a few of the many things Obama could be doing. Instead, he is looking for someone's "ass to kick" and feigning anger.

During the Iraq War, President Bush sent in Red Adair's oil capping company into Kuwait. Red Adair's private company capped 628 sabotaged, booby-trapped, and blown up burning rigs in less than 9 months.

Obama has capped exactly 0 oil wells in almost 2 months.

How's that government boot on the throat of BP working out for ya?

Page Printed from: at June 10, 2010 - 10:39:43 AM CDT

***EPA and the “National Contingency Plan”
Did any of you know that the US supposedly has a National Contingency Plan for dealing with very large oil spills? And that EPA has legal responsibility for maintaining readiness for such an eventuality? Who knew? I’ve watched hours of coverage and this hasn’t been mentioned anywhere.

The National Oil and Hazardous Substances Contingency Plan Act was signed into law in 1994 (superceding previous legislation that went back to the 1969 Torrey Canyon oil spill.) Laws and regulations are collated here. The EPA has an online book describing the National Continency Plan. See for example (change the number to get other chapters.)
The EPA manual says:

WHEN A MAJOR oil spill occurs in the United States, coordinated teams of local, state, and national personnel are called upon to help contain the spill, clean it up, and ensure that damage to human health and the environment is minimized. Without careful planning and clear organization, efforts to deal with large oil spills could be slow, ineffective, and potentially harmful to response personnel and the environment. In the United States, the system for organizing responses to major oil spills is called the National Response System.

One of the principles of the National Contingency Plan is that an effective and prompt response is a national priority. The chair and vice-chair of the National Response Team are to come from EPA and the Coast Guard. The EPA manual says:

AFTER THE PLAN is developed, it is important to test it to see if it works as anticipated. Testing usually takes the form of an exercise or drill to practice responding to a spill.

Also, in a first reading, the presumption of the legislation is that dealing with major problems is a national interest and the government will take charge. The idea behind the plan is that there will be national readiness to deal with oil spills and that EPA will lead the national readiness. Section 3.1.1 (h) states:

Direct planning and preparedness responsibilities of NRT [national Response team] include: (1) Maintaining national preparedness to respond to a major discharge of oil that is beyond regional capabilities.

MMS, who have borne the brunt of criticism of government activities, play little to no role in the National Contingency Plan – based on my initial reading – and definitely a very minor role relative to EPA. MMS does not appear to be a member of the National Response Team (though 300.175 notes that MMS may have useful information and can be called on through the Dept of Interior representative).

I’ve noticed EPA involvement in worrying about dispersant toxicity, but otherwise EPA seems to have been surprisingly invisible given the prominent role assigned to them in the National Contingency Plan.

I’ve only browsed the legislation and manuals and it’s not an area about which I speak authoritatively. I invite readers to look through the Act, regulations and manuals and comment on the degree to which EPA and other agencies have met their statutory obligations. Please do so in relatively technical terms and avoid the temptation to hyperventilate.

* Thanks Carolyn
** and *** Thanks Jack W.

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