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President adopts the right tone in talking about oil spill crisis; gives BP clear set of demands

Published: Thu, June 17, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

There are two numbers that Americans should keep in mind as they watch the worst environmental crisis in U.S. history play out in the Gulf of Mexico: 60,000 and $1 billion.

The first is the estimated number of barrels of oil spewing from British Petroleum’s damaged Deepwater Horizon drilling rig about 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana; the second is the amount of money that flows out of America each day to foreign countries to quench our thirst for oil.

On Tuesday, President Obama went before the America people in his first address to the nation from the Oval Office and delivered a pledge that will either make him a hero or a goat.

In the coming days and weeks, the president said, the additional equipment and technology the White House has directed BP to mobilize “should capture up to 90 percent of the oil leaking out of the well.”

And, when the company finishes drilling a relief well later this summer, the leak should be stopped completely.

The confidence with which he spoke during his 18-minute address is what the residents of the Gulf states, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, and, indeed, all Americans have needed to hear. Daily television images and newspaper pictures of the oil gushing from the Gulf floor and the environmental damage caused by the millions of gallons have shocked the senses.

And while fair-minded people know the fault lies squarely with BP, there has been growing demand for the federal government to take over the operations.

Lack of expertise

But as the president acknowledged during a recent news conference, Washington does not have the expertise to replace the oil company in the well-capping effort.

However, the administration does have the power and legal authority to require BP to not only bring to bear all the technology available to stop the oil flow, but also to pay for the damage it has caused.

Obama scolded the giant oil company not only for failing to establish fail-safe procedures and to adhere to industry standards with regard to the operation of the deepwater rig, but also for the less-than-urgent way it has responded to the environmental crisis.

That should have been music to the ears of the people of the Gulf region whose lives and livelihoods have been turned upside down by the spill.

To his credit, the president did not seek to downplay the long-term effects of the millions of gallons of oil that have turned the waters of the Gulf into a slimy mess and are threatening the beaches and wildlife habitats.

“Already, this oil spill is the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced. And unlike an earthquake or a hurricane, it’s not a single event that does its damage in a matter of minutes or days,” Obama said. “The millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico are more like an epidemic, one that we will be fighting for months and even years.”

But, the fight will be paid for by BP.

On Wednesday, the president met with the chairman of the company and his tough stance worked: BP announced it will set aside $20 billion to pay the victims of the massive oil spill.

The independent fund will be managed by lawyer Kenneth Feinberg, who oversaw payments to families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In his current role, Feinberg is known as Obama’s “pay czar,” setting salary limits for companies getting the most aid from a $700 billion government bailout fund.

Lack of promptness

One of the main complaints from governors, legislators and residents of the region is that BP has been less than prompt in handling and then paying the claims.

While Obama has been criticized over the past weeks for his perceived laid-back approach to dealing with this crisis, the speech Tuesday made it clear that he and members of his administration are directly involved in the recovery effort.

An important lesson to be learned from the spill is that better regulations, better safety standards and better enforcement are essential when it comes to offshore drilling.

But there’s another lesson that can be gleaned from the spill: The days of cheap and accessible oil are numbered.

The $1 billion a day being sent abroad for oil is a stark reminder of that reality.

President Obama cited that figure in arguing that it’s time for Congress to act on clean energy legislation. Indeed the political equation has changed in the last two months and public support for the so-called cap-and-trade bill now before the Senate — it has passed the House — will increase.

“Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash America’s innovation and seize control of our own destiny,” the president said.


1palbubba(717 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

It has been time to act on clean energy solutions for decades, but as is normal for federal government, nothing has been done. Cap and trade is not the answer, it is just another way to increase taxes. Drilling in Alaska and other inland wells needs to be part of the answer to this problem. Any spillage occuring there would have been stopped within days not months.

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2VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Clueless...After 57 days, Obama is still just talking. That's all he knows how to do...he talks a good show. He refused assistance from 30 some countries that offered to send skimmer vessels and he wants BP to direct the clean-up. Where is BP going to get 20 Billion for damage payouts? They're only worth 7 billion! Skimmer vessels are not the answer in solving this oil rig spill, but they go a long way towards mitigating environmental damage to our coastline. This mitigation effort should have started 57 days ago, but here we are 57 days later and still talking, with no clear direction in what to do!

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3cambridge(3372 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

VINDYAK....I don't know where you got you information on BP's worth but it's way off. There stock dropped 15% after the spill and that amounted to 75 billion. I'll let you do the math.


They are the fourth richest company in the world.

They own six refineries that i know of in the US and all or part of at least 24 world wide.

It's their spill. It's on them.

It's on Obama to make sure the pay and I think that's exactly what he is doing.

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4cambridge(3372 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

USEless1.....You really shouldn't refer to anything I post as socialist as long as you have your hand out every month for that government check. I live off of my life's work and investments without a dime from the government. You can't say the same.

You keep saying that "BP contributed lots of money to the Dalai Bama's presidential campaign" as if he is in their pocket. Why don't you tell us all exactly how much money BP has given to Obama campaigns. Make sure you give the real number because if you don't I will.

You claim that Obama is an "illegal alien in the White House". The link below from FactCheck says otherwise. You can click on any of the photo's to see an enlarged image.


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5VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

We all want to see BP pay. But more importantly, we want to see mitigation action on all this massive oil oozing towards our coasts. No one seems to care about mitigating damages, all they want to talk about is how much the damages are going to cost and who it will affect.

This is like spilling a gallon of milk on your kitchen countertop. So there it is, as you watch it running over the edge, down the cabinet, into the drawers, onto the spoons and into the next drawers filled with towels and then into the pots and pans. There you are mulling over what to do next. Will it go down into the basement and into the furnace? You call your wife - honey, I spilled milk in the kitchen, what do you think we should do? How much did you spill, she asks. I dunno you say, the gallon fell over and its still guggling out. Humm, she says...maybe we should try setting the gallon back upright. That sounds like a good idea, you say, but what about all that milk that spilled out? It has seeped into everything, including under the floor and into the basement. Hmmm, says wife again...why don't we just call the insurance company?

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6cambridge(3372 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

VINDYAK....If the pipe that is causing the leak were in your kitchen you could stop it as easily as your spilled milk solution.

Unfortunately the pipe causing the spill is 5,000 feet deep in the ocean.

No one wants that leak fixed more than BP. The faster it is stopped the less it's going to cost them.

It's obvious by now that they can't cap that pipe. From what I have heard they think a relief well will stop it in August. In the mean time all they can do is try to contain it as best they can.

It's a big mess and it's going to cost them some major money but it's a serously dangerous business.

The link below will show you several maps of deep water and shallow water rigs. There are thousands of shallow water rigs in the world. Scroll down to "Gulf Coast Region Maps Showing Tracts and Oil Platforms" and click on the PDF's under that section. It's mind boggling.


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7MH3(8 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

President Obama has approached this disaster in a well thought out methodical fashion. He consulted experts and attacked the problem with some degree of knowledge. He wants to protect America and the US citizens impacted by this tragedy.
I am amazed that his opposition is apologizing to BP (a foreign company) for being strong armed by the White House. I believe BP has agreed to start paying restitution now because if they wait the costs will become much higher to those impacted.

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8walter_sobchak(2245 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

...well thought out and methodical fashion? The people in the gulf need action now, not thought. But, in typical govt fashion, we are always fighting the last war. The MMS preparation is more suited for an oil tanker disaster, not a deep well blow out. There needs to be better oversight and accountability by the govt agencies to look out for the common people, not just the big corporations. So, Obama drags his feet for way too long and then, with that speech, takes it into a totally political realm.

So, now BP puts $20B into an escrow account and the money will be doled out by an appointee of the President's choice! That smell isn't the oil slick; it's the corruption! I actually wonder where the President thinks he gets the power to do this from? If people have damages caused by another party, isn't it up to the courts to decide this?

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9cambridge(3372 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

walter....You say that "There needs to be better oversight and accountability by govt agencies to look out for the common people, not just big corporations." I agree with that statement so if you can get the neo cons, republicans and teabaggers out of the way that oversight could take place.

Obama and the Democrats aren't the ones that are standing in the way of regulations and oversight it's the people I mentioned previously.

You want these claims to go through the courts? BP has already admitted they are responsible. There is no reason for the people damaged by BP to have to wait for compensation.

You claim that the system of paying these people is "corruption". Prove it. Tell me exactly what is corrupt. Not what you think, real facts.

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10MH3(8 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

rudy56 & walter

The President admitted from the onset that the government did not have the capability to solve this crisis. His demands were put on BP and justly so. You are correct...the people needed immediate help and getting the cash flowing was necessary. Better than having them fight it out in the courts for years...makes 58 days a bit more palitable.
I understand that the same person that made the cash distributions for President Bush after 9/11 will be taking on this task also.
It is amazing the amount of crap that was dumped on our last two Presidents. You have to be nuts to want that job.

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11peacelover(812 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

I agree, MH3, you would have to be nuts to want the President's job.

That said, it amuses me that the same people, for the most part, who fuss and fume that the President hasn't done enough to address and/or prevent the oil spill, are the same ones who want less government interference in big business.

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12walter_sobchak(2245 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Cambridge and MH3,

The 9/11 tragedy was caused by terrorists, not a particular company that you could lay the blame at the feet of. The compensation was govt money that was doled out. My problem here is that the fund is from a private corporation that must be split up. I would think that this fund should be ditributed by a court of claims set up by law approved thru Congress and adjudicated by the Federal District Courts. I want the money to get into the proper hands of those who have been harmed. But, you know some people will scam the system. Will a political appointee be willing to blow the whistle on someone in an election year?

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13cambridge(3372 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

walter....It's BP's money. They don't have a problem with the way it's being paid out for the damage they caused and you shouldn't either.

Fishermen and people in the tourist and rental industries shouldn't have to be tied up in the courts. They need to feed their families, pay their mortgages and pay their bills not deal with the courts.

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14walter_sobchak(2245 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

What happens when the $20B runs out but I still have an outstanding legitimate complaint? Will I then have to sue? What if the money is given out to the private citizens and no funds remain to clean up the shoreline of state parks or fedral game reserves? Will the govt then have to sue? Also, and this is a big question that I haven't heard answered:
If I accept money from this BP fund that is being administered by the govt., do I give up the right to file a legal claim against BP for additional damages? While I don't want lawyers to get rich from this situation (stop laughing), ther should be some type of court of claims that an ordinary person can get relief UNDER THE LAW.

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15cambridge(3372 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

walter....BP has committed to pay for ALL damages. Obama is committed to make sure the pay for ALL damages. When the 20 billion runs out BP will have to put more $ in the fund.

I'm glad your not in charge of any aspect of BP doing what they agreed is their responsibility. You want to take something that is cut and dry, a simple situation and complicate it.

People's livelihoods have been severely impacted and you want to them to go to court when the party that caused the damage wants to settle up as soon as possible and do the right thing. I don't understand your thinking at all.

If your car was parked in a parking lot and someone hit it and caused damage and waited for you to return to your car and said " lets go across the street to the dealer and have them fix it, I'll write them a check right now so your car is repaired as soon as possible." What are you going to do, say no I think we should go to court?

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16walter_sobchak(2245 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

We will see just what BP ultimately pays for when they withhold dividends for a few quarters. I guarantee that this will not be a bottomless pit of money. I just want to make sure that the correct people get compensated but I don't trust anything this administration, or any administration. They haven't performed very well to this point.

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