ANALYSIS: As oil slick spreads, so does frustration

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 1:00 p.m. CDT, Thursday, June 10, 2010
A worker shovels oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill off Fourchon Beach in Port Fourchon, La., Monday.

WASHINGTON — Oil spill frustration is rampant.

The White House is being pounded for not acting more aggressively in the month-old oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The administration is hitting back, mostly at BP. Louisiana is threatening to take matters into its own hands. The truth is, the government has little direct experience at either the national or state level at stopping deep-water oil leaks — and few realistic options.

With the oil flowing and spreading at a furious rate, President Barack Obama has accused BP of a "breakdown of responsibility." He named a special independent commission to review what happened.

But the administration seems to want to have it both ways — insisting it's in charge while also insisting that BP do the heavy lifting. The White House is arguing that government officials aren't just watching from the sidelines, but also acknowledging there's just so much the government can do directly.

"They are 5,000 feet down. BP or the private sector alone have the means to deal with that problem down there. It's not government equipment that is going to be used to do that," Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen said Monday in a White House briefing.

"They are the responsible party," he said. "But we have the authority to direct them."

There are political risks both ways. If the federal government took control somehow, it would own the problem and any failure would belong to Obama.

But the flip side is that Obama could suffer politically if his administration is seen as falling short of staying on top of the problem or not working hard to find a solution.

Dealing with the disaster

BP's attempts to stop the leak have failed. The company intended to try another technique Wednesday in which heavy mud and cement would be shot into the well to plug it up.

White House energy adviser Carol Browner made the rounds of morning television news shows Tuesday, expressing continued frustration but also voicing hope that Wednesday's procedure would succeed where others have failed.

"We have been in charge, and we'll continue to be in charge. But clearly BP has expertise, and that needs to be brought to bear," she said to CBS.

In the past, the government has turned to oil industry experts to deal with oil disasters.

It famously recruited legendary oil well fighters Paul "Red" Adair and Edward "Coots" Matthews to help in the first Iraq war. Retreating Iraqi troops deliberately spilled 462 million gallons of oil into the Persian Gulf and set more than 700 oilfield fires.

After the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, Congress dictated in the 1990 Oil Pollution Act that oil companies be responsible for dealing with major accidents — including paying for all cleanup — with oversight by federal agencies.

That has pretty much been the model ever since. And the administration insists that's exactly what it is doing, though clearly not everyone agrees.

Keeping an eye on BP's oversight

Anger grows as the slick spreads and washes ashore into environmentally sensitive marshes and waterways. Nerves are frayed, and finger-pointing is in full swing.

The administration says it is losing patience with BP's efforts.

"If we find they're not doing what they're supposed to be doing, we'll push them out of the way appropriately," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said to reporters outside BP's headquarters in Houston on Sunday.

Just what did Salazar mean by "push them out of the way"? Officials have struggled to explain what Salazar meant.

"That's more of a metaphor," the Coast Guard's Allen said Monday. "'Push BP out of the way' would raise the question, 'replace them with what?'"

Allen, responsible for oversight of the spill response, said he, too, is frustrated, along with other Americans.

Salazar and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano led a Senate delegation to the region Monday.

"We are going to stay on this and stay on BP until this gets done and it gets done the right way," Napolitano said after flying over the affected area.

Frustration with the response

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, has taken swipes at BP, and other oil companies involved in the disaster, as well as the federal government. Jindal said he was going to call out members of the Louisiana National Guard to join state wildlife agencies to supplement a federal response that he called inadequate.

In particular, Jindal assailed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for failing to sign off on a plan to build a chain of protective sand barriers — or berms — off the coast to help block the oil.

"We are not waiting for them. We are going to build it" ourselves, Jindal said. U.S. officials said the Corps is nearing a final decision.

Millions of gallons of oil have spewed from the well since April 20, when the Deepwater Horizon rig owned by driller Transocean and leased by BP exploded, killing 11 workers.

Doug Suttles, BP's chief operating officer, made the round of network news shows Monday with the same message.

"We are doing everything we can, everything I know," Suttles said.

He said the energy giant, formerly known as British Petroleum, understands and shares everyone's frustration.

Patience, though not ideal, might be key

History isn't encouraging, however, when it comes to underwater ruptures.

The last major spill in the Gulf was in June 1979, when an offshore drilling rig in Mexican waters — the Ixtoc I — blew up, releasing 140 million gallons of oil. The well was owned by Mexico's state oil company, known as Pemex. It took Pemex and a series of U.S. contractors nearly nine months to cap the well, and a great deal of the oil contaminated Mexican and U.S. waters.

If patience is necessary, it isn't a particularly forthcoming quality in these tense times.

Even Democratic consultant James Carville, a strong Obama ally, has been taking shots at the administration.

A Louisiana native, Carville told CNN the administration was "risking everything by this 'go along with BP' strategy. ... If you let BP handle it ... it's not going to go away. It is a disaster of the first magnitude, and they've got to go to Plan B."

But so far, there was no Plan B on the table short of waiting until August, when two relief wells are expected to reach the oil deep under the ocean floor.


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Ray Shapiro May 26, 2010 | 2:24 a.m.
(Report Comment)
Carl Kabler May 26, 2010 | 7:59 a.m.

"Criminals at the top always result in a larger percentage of criminals at the bottom". Who are 'they' and what do they want exactly and where are we headed? One man's thoughts (and some interesting comments for anyone who might care....or not).

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking May 26, 2010 | 3:21 p.m.

@Carl Kabler

Got tinfoil much?

There is no "they" Only us, the people of the first world, and the corporate interests that give us what we want, and the governments that we elect to keep things running smoothly. They have no power without us - don't buy their stuff, and they would go away.

But wouldn't this be such a horrible, harsh, boring world if we didn't buy their stuff? Whatever would we do without a car, without jet planes, without food shipped in from across the world, without lights and "connectedness" and sprawling shops filled with fun, fun, fun 24/7/365?

All this stuff exists purely because people want it. This oil well exists because people want what it gives, and if this one hadn't blown its top, another one would have. The only sure way to keep this from happening is not to drill them in the first place.

The sooner we figure out that we don't need all this crap, the sooner we can get some of these overworked systems under control. But it's going to have to start with us.


(Report Comment)
Carl Kabler May 26, 2010 | 9:35 p.m.

No 'they' Mark??? Hahaha, surely you jest, there are all sorts of 'theys' many of the 'theys' control more wealth and influence than all of the people of the U.S. put together. As 'government' is up for sale to the highest bidders, those who can bid highest will control it, and it will (in part) control you. I'm not sure you're serious, but just in case you are....better get started on your refresher course.

(Report Comment)
Carl Kabler May 26, 2010 | 10:05 p.m.

Here's just one more Mark, very thorough and excellant IMO, it really lays out the historical path of those who pull the strings, I would suggest anyone who wants to see behind the scenes many of the things the Mockingbird press neglects (blacks out) to read this copy of a speech by G. Edward Griffin in Republic magazine. Circles within circles Mark, wheels within wheels, loaded up with trillions of dollars to purchase the 'best' (lol) *government* money can buy. I will agree with you on one thing though, (as you say) in the end just like the 'they', there is also an 'us' and a 'me' and a 'you' and that's really where control *could* lay if only citizens would turn off their nightly fixes of dancing with the stars or the latest game and become informed and active.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking May 27, 2010 | 10:19 a.m.

Carl, the attempted imposition of a world government would result in world war. Few nations would accept such a level of interference in their internal affairs for very long.

Look at the history of colonialism, and you'll see a uniform movement within the colonies, as living and economic conditions improved, to take their countries back. Virtually none of the European colonies that existed in the past 300 years or so are still European colonies. We can debate whether they are better off (many aren't), but all of them have taken back their governments and declared their independence.

No monied, elite society is going to find the subjugation of the world worth it. It'd be too much trouble. They'd be better off just enjoying their wealth in peace, and they likely know that.


(Report Comment)
Carl Kabler May 27, 2010 | 5:52 p.m.

According to Wikipedia,'Tony Hayward (BP CEO) is an active member of the Bilderberg Group.' If one really wants to understand the power centers and decision making processes (behind the puppets) one needs to, as I mentioned earlier, understand who controls the money supply that buys the worlds' governments (and politicians).

Mark, I have to feel by your response that you didn't even take the time to fully read the second link or if you did you certainly must have just skimmed it. That's ok, I merely put it up there for those that want some leads to take them on their own journey. No one can do it for another, only point the way.

The one thing I hope though that gets recognized ,is that 'the stringpullers' have decided on their number ONE priority. And that is simply that the world's population is way too large and must be culled. And soon. And in the aftermath there will be a much reduced population of 'worker bees' just enough left around to carry out the tasks of the aristocracy. You see, they no longer need or even desire 6.5 billion people on the planet. Useless eaters (their words). And this population of worker bees will be tagged and tracked 24/7 cradle to grave so that a'Utopia' will exist for at least the aristocracy and for the planet. (e.g. Brezezinsky's electronic prison *The Grand Chessboard)after the series of "Big Events".

I realize that this might sound 'tin foil'(lol) that's ok, I wouldn't expect anyone to take my word or anothers about it at all. But look around CLOSELY. I can tell you quite honestly you can know what is to come if you ask (not me) with an honest intent and follow up, usually all one has to do is read what has already been written by the Ultimate Country Club players themselves and watch well how things are playing out.

There is going to be a 'die off', and while it may appear 'natural' I can assure you there is a 'hidden hand'. I'm not sure what exactly to do about it, if anything, like a slow moving very dangerous storm on the horizon we simply watch it getting closer and closer and closer. Wheels within wheels. Rings within rings. And unfortunately, alot of deer in the headlights.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking May 28, 2010 | 8:20 a.m.

You do understand that most of those 6.5 billion people don't count as far as "eaters" anyway? They use (and produce) so few resources relative to first worlders that they are a tiny fragment of the world's economy. And that is good - if everyone consumed like Americans, we'd need about 6 Earths to live.

Looking at the future with a non-conspiratorial eye, I can see China (perhaps partnering with India) becoming the worlds leading power by mid-century. They have the desire, talent, drive and frugality/efficiency (just like we did after WW II) to work their way to the top. In many ways they are already there.

That is completely inconsistent with a world being run by old European family societies. China won't care about the Bilderberg group any more than I do. They simply won't matter (not that they do now, particularly), because China and India will have most of the money, resources, and means of production.

I'm not going to continue this, because it's rather pointless to argue with someone that sees invisible hands in every random event. Have a happy Memorial Day.


(Report Comment)
Carl Kabler May 28, 2010 | 2:21 p.m.

I agree Mark, (finally, lol)as to it being ok to agree to disagree. That's one of the things that makes America special, the ability to speak your mind without fear of attack or getting disappeared. I knew from the start you wouldn't be able to see the 'invisable hand in any non-random event', so I mainly posted for others who care to do their own homework. It's there for whomever wants it (or not). And sincerely, even though we don't see eye to eye on this (how could we, really?) I also hope you have a great Memorial Day as well. God bless America, and long live The Republic. (I trust we can agree on that too.)

(Report Comment)
Carl Kabler May 31, 2010 | 10:49 p.m.

"One oil rig goes down and we're rolling in dough"."Suck it fishes and birdies". (from a recovered e-mail). Goldman Sachs placed massive short bets on Gulf oil rigs ONE DAY before the sinking of an oil rig in the Gulf.

Wow,always helps to have 'psychics' on your investment team doesn't it. Or maybe some other kind of 'help'?

Naaaa. What was I thinking. Crime only happens among 'little people'. These guys are 'too big' to commit crime for hundreds of millions or perhaps billions. Right?

(Report Comment)
Carl Kabler June 4, 2010 | 12:28 p.m.

Those wishing to look deeper into who pulls the puppet strings might enjoy this link. Remember Bilderberg is likely at top of the Rings of Power but possibly not at the highest pinnacle. They do however control (buy) much of U.S. policy by buying (blackmailing, threatening etc.) easily bought politicians and it is VERY short sighted to think of them as 'European' they are instead *Globalists* reshaping the world into their own liking and having a huge impact on the direction (fall?) of the U.S. which stands in their way of being placed on the throne of The World.

(Report Comment)
Carl Kabler June 7, 2010 | 5:35 p.m.

War criminal Henry "useless eaters" Kissinger attended as did eugenicist Bill "take my sterilizing vaccines" Gates. Make sure to observe the other fascist names on the list too, but don't dare ask what they DECIDED for the world (and for you). You'll have to wait a bit until the decisions roll downhill to the outer implementing rings of power and finally down onto the heads of the serfs. Here's a print out of the attendee names, make sure to put it on your wall next to your Caucasion "jesus" picture, and make you you pay homage to the 'bigger' rulers of The World in the proper order.

(Report Comment)

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