Tag Archives: gulf coast

Blame game

So there I was, sittin at my desk, trying to keep up with multiple copies of multiple e-mails that were flooding into my inbox while simultaneously figuring out which were dross and which I really needed, when my boss, who was sitting at the next desk over, looked at me and said

Obama’s gonna really take it on the chin over this oil spill.

Well, duh, big guy. What was your first clue? And what do you mean “gonna”?

He’s right, of course, although our subsequent discussion didn’t sound like I agreed. The president is taking it on the chin right now from Republicans, mostly, who are ironically calling for more government interference in what should be a private business issue.

Had he jumped in and started ordering BP around or kicking them out of the fix, however, Obama would be taking it on the chin right now from Republicans, almost exclusively, who oppose government interference in what should be a private business issue.

So while conservatives are out there trying to have things like discrimination both ways (“I oppose discrimination, I just don’t think we should do anything about it”), they’re also actively making sure that Democrats, and particularly this president, are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

But here are my colleagues, full participants in making this oil spill “Obama’s Katrina.”

The truth is what Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said just the other day:

To push BP out of the way would be to raise the question, to replace them with what?

See, the federal government lacks the equipment and technology to stop this oil spill. The federal government, as you may or may not know, is not in the oil drilling business.

They’re damning the administration for not having an oil spill contingency plan. Really? I guess in 10 or 20 years when, say, Atlanta has another blizzard and can’t dig out because the city finds it just a little wrong to buy and maintain snow equipment for that once-a-generation occurrence, Atlanta’s citizens should call for the mayor’s head.

Isn’t this what the Republicans want? BP, Transocean and Halliburton fucked this up. BP, Halliburton and Transocean need to fix it. What? They didn’t have a plan either? Gee, who’s fault is that?

Oh, right. Obama’s.

You don’t hear much about this, but there were BP execs on board the Deepwater Horizon when it blew up. They were celebrating their safety record. Know what else? They had a lot of warning that something was wrong before the explosion, and they did absolutely nothing about it.

Hell, BP even got a big ole warning — actually several of them — in the hours before Deepwater Horizon blew up. They ignored them. Told Congress they made “a fundamental mistake” by  continuing drilling operations after they had very clear warning that something was very, very fucked up.

But my beloved colleagues are busy being their short-sighted selves. It happened on Obama’s watch, so it’s his fault. It’s Obama’s Katrina.

Never mind, of course, that Katrina was a hurricane, a natural disaster, and of a type that happens rather frequently, if not quite on that level. The federal government supposedly has all kinds of mechanisms in place to deal with that, and besides, they had years of warnings that the levees in NOLA wouldn’t hold. Not only that, but there were hours, days even of warning that this ‘cane was coming ashore, and it was gonna be big. And 2005 was deep into the Bush administration.

Now, I’m all kinda pissed off that this oil spill is wrecking what’s left of Louisiana’s wetlands. But Louisiana’s wetlands were a disaster long before April 20. Nobody seemed very worried about all the silt and mud that the dammed up Mississippi River dumps into the gulf every day, creating an ever-widening dead zone. True, that dead zone is a bunch bigger now, and all manner of innocent animals are being oiled because of this spill.

But here’s the real deal. It’s not Obama’s fault, although it’s damn clear he’s taking the blame. He does have a part to play, of course. But the real culprits here are the legislators and corporatists who have refused for decades to do anything at all to lessen our dependence on oil. Not foreign oil, mind you. Any oil at all. Drilling in the ocean (or ANWR or anywhere else for that matter) is a disaster waiting to happen. And now it has.

It’s also the fault of a government in which regulators, the companies they regulate and those companies’ lobbyists are virtually the same people. One senator called it a “revolving door.” Another said they’re “in bed” together. Even if by some miracle one of the regulators hires somebody who takes his or her job seriously, you know the peer pressure is serious.

And that goes way back in this government, past Obama, past Clinton, past both Bushes. You find some, but very little before Reagan, and a lot from that time on.

That’s what the conservatives mean when they sign onto Grover Norquist’s idea to make government so small you can drown it in a bathtub. An end to regulation. That and an end to social programs that can help American citizens without their having to sign their lives away to corporate owners.

We didn’t learn a damn thing from the Exxon Valdez, though, and I doubt seriously we’ll learn a damn thing from this. See how quickly “let the market take care of it” goes by the wayside when something truly devastating happens? That’s because the market is only interested in making its masters more money. Cleaning up an oil spill, even stopping the gusher that’s causing it, doesn’t make anybody any money.

Well, except maybe the makers of that dispersant that BP insists on using, the one that’s more toxic and less efficient than any of the other available dispersants.

Obama’s part of this too — where’s that big energy plan? Oh right. It’s all tied up in “negotiations” with the party of no, wherein the administration waters the bill down to nothing with Republican proposals and then they vote no anyway.

The lesson we should be learning is that oil is a no-win game. It pollutes in more ways than we can count. It’s dangerous. It’s a killer. And it’s yet another thing that does nothing for average Americans.

The Gulf coast is gonna be a mess for a long time, whether BP gets its shit together or the federal government takes over. Truth is, there was really no contingency plan to be had for something like this. BP certainly wasn’t going to spend any money developing one, and you won’t find one in the vaults at Shell or Chevron or Texaco or ExxonMobile either. A gusher a mile below the surface isn’t something you expect to happen — unless, of course, you realize that drilling for oil anywhere on the planet is a set-up for something like this. And it’s pretty clear very few people understand that.

So here’s the deal, America. Get it through your head that we need to leave oil behind, period. We need clean, safe, alternative energy sources, and we need ‘em yesterday.

I just saw a Tweet flash by on my screen:

BREAKING: Large Air Spill At Wind Farm. No Threats Reported. Some Claim To Enjoy The Breeze

Mmmm. Now that’s what I’m talkin about.

Make no mistake. This is a disaster. But the root of it isn’t the Obama administration.

It’s greed.