Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The President's Speech on the Oil Spill

As I wait for President Obama's first Oval Office address, I guess I have some thoughts about the oil spill. I do not need to go in to all the devastation, both environmental and economic, that is being caused in the Gulf. We all know that, and nothing I can say about how sad I am when I see dead animals and newly jobless people really adds to the reality in the Gulf.

I do have some frustrations to vent, however.

First of all, I think that any comparison to the Bush administration's response to Katrina is an absolutely false analogy. After the hurricane, everyone knew what needed to be done, and the government did not do it. With this oil spill, no one knows how to fix the leak, and while Obama has gathered all of the best scientific and engineering minds together, no one can fix it. I know a lot of Republicans would not be satisfied unless Obama went down in a wet suit himself with a giant cork.

Second, for Republicans to blame the Obama administration for mismanagement of the MMS is disgusting, and to hear Republicans talk about the fact that the government needs to be harder on BP is depressingly laughable. One can only clean up so many piles of shit in a day, especially after eight years of shit-spreading. Of course the Obama administration is ultimately responsible for everything the government does, but responsibility and blame are not the same thing. And Obama has already taken responsibility for the problem, an act which Bush took years to do (for anything).

What Obama can do is make sure everyone being deployed is working together. He has the power to streamline and coordinate the response. As the chief executive, he can re-up his reaction and make sure everyone else is doing the same. But anyone who has paid any attention over the last month knows that Obama has not been sitting around.

But for politicians to say that "now is not the time" to push forward on developing alternative energy policies is also disgusting. If drill-baby-drill politicians do not see now that we cannot continue on the same path, then they never will.

I'll be back with some thoughts after the speech.

After the Speech. . .
President Obama delivered a good address, and many of the ideas he presented are excellent. The trouble, of course, is that words mean nothing to the people most affected. So we will have to wait a few weeks and see how Obama's plans manifest themselves. I do like the idea of making BP set aside funds in an independently monitored escrow fund. But I do agree with some post-speech criticism that the address lacked some specifics about what exactly the government will be doing. On the other hand, I am not sure that tonight's address was the place for a list of machinery and equipment, etc. But he did a good job assuring us that he is on the job.

We'll see.


At 12:23 AM, Blogger Jason posited...

The escrow is a good idea for all parties involved. I think BP can spare their image a little further tarnish by just forking over a chunk of change and letting someone else deal with complaints.

The speech was good, but as you said, CoachDub, words won't do much for the people affected, and I don't know if much of what he talked about will, either. While I'm all for the alternative energy and long-term recovery ideas he pushed, I can't get over his hasty and reactionary decision to place a moratorium on deep-sea drilling. The impact of this will be felt most severely right in the area that has already been most severely affected: Gulf states. People in these areas are crying out against the ban, as oil drilling's contribution to Louisiana's GDP is at least 16 times higher than its entire fishing industry (by what I heard on MPR). This was a freak accident, and it should not be expected that every oil platform suddenly explode just because some few engineers miscalculated risk. It is like banning all air traffic for six months because a plane crashed. I do agree with his adjustment of the oversight for such operations, as well as the establishment of a committee to investigate the root causes of the accident, but these groups cannot act quickly, nor are they meant to. As we learned from Katrina, Gulf Americans are resilient people, but a second catastrophe exacerbated by government ineptness could prove to have greater long-term effects in socioeconomic terms than even in ecological terms.

So while he can't don scuba gear and plug up the leak himself, Pres. Obama can at least unstopper the streams he has plugged in what appears to be a much-clamored-for demonstration of his authority to cut off any possibility of a repeat accident. What he's actually stopping is the livelihood of so many who are in dire need now, today, and not in the long term.

After all, that oil will be around for that long term, and he'll have plenty of time to figure out whose ass to kick.

At 3:21 PM, Blogger P "N" K posited...

Just as long as no one is advocating pouring golf balls and rubber chips down there.

As someone who has seen heaping piles of golf balls, this was a truly terrible idea.

At 10:29 PM, Blogger P "N" K posited...


This picture is very disheartening.

At 12:23 AM, Blogger PBear posited...

Amen, Jason.

Alright, someone needs to explain this to me. Why can't they park a tanker next to the rig and attach a high powered vacuum onto or right above the leak to suck the oil up before it spreads? The vacuum would suck in a lot of sea water and the tanker would eventually fill, but you can always bring in another tanker and at least the oil isn't spreading everywhere. Wouldn't this be an adequate short term solution until the relief well is built?

Whatever, these guys seem to have a better handle on the problem than I do:


At 2:27 AM, Blogger P "N" K posited...

I heard something similar Pelk, with up to like four tankers cycling in and out...

At 9:49 AM, Blogger CoachDub posited...

Jason, well said.

Parker, I'm with you on the golf balls. What a weird solution.

Adam, I think someone should just invent an undersea Roomba.

At 8:17 PM, Blogger Jason posited...

The vacuum/pump idea was the first one they tried with the dome, which seemed like a good idea but got clogged with freakish gas-ice crystals no one anticipated. Then they tried a couple other weird ones and the solution that is now (mostly) working is back to the vacuum/pump concept.

CoachDub, I don't know if I would go with the Roomba. Do you know how long it would take to trace out the whole Gulf floor? And then they'd have to send someone to go get it when it gets confused and just bumps around in the corner for a while... What a mess.

At 11:58 AM, Blogger PBear posited...

Apparently someone is one step ahead of you:


My only concern with creating an army of Roombas would be them becoming self-aware, ending human civilization terminator-style.

At 2:41 AM, Blogger CoachDub posited...

"Roomba to Skynet" and then fuck, it's all over.

At 12:01 AM, Blogger P "N" K posited...

Dub, what is your take on the Jones Act component to the situation, the Gulf Coast shipping unions dragging metaphorical feet, and Obama's failure to put a temporary nullification on the former? I'd be interested to hear a liberal explanation here, because I don't get it.


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