Monday, May 24, 2010

Take Charge, Part 2

President Obama has erred badly by leaving BP in charge. It may have been necessary to maintain them on site and performing part, or even all, of the work in resolving the disaster, but they should not have been left in command at the scene. Someone of national authority, be it Coast Guard, EPA or other, should have taken the command authority away from them the day that Deepwater Horizon sank.

Instead, BP continues to be in charge of its own disaster, and is still the only entity which is able to even look at the scene of the calamity. The Coast Guard, nominally in charge of protecting our coastal waters, is standing by in a role that appears not even to be advisory. From CNN,

“I've got [BP CEO] Tony Hayward's personal cell phone number. If I have a problem, I call him. Some of the problems we have had that we've worked through are more logistics and coordination issues,"
Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen says, adding that he trusts Hayward: "When I talk to him, I get an answer."

Meanwhile, the only timelines for capping the leak, the only estimates for flow rates of the leak, the only information as to future action on the leak, all come from BP, not from any of our government agencies who are supposed to be protecting our coast. These agencies are all standing around asking questions of BP and, apparently, getting answers which satisfy them while oil continues gushing into our coastal waters.

Salazar admits that we do not have any equipment with which to address the issue which, not withstanding the inane ranting of Chris Matthews that we send our fleet of nuclear submarines to the scene, doesn’t surprise me. We are very well equipped for fighting wars, somewhat less well prepared for dealing with the environment.

That does not mean that we cannot, or should not, take charge of the situation. By doing so we could bring more forces to bear in the form of scientific expertise, and by using people and equipment from companies other than BP on scene. Not to mention that the public would have more confidence in the rescue operation if we were getting information about it from our own people rather than from the people who caused the disaster to begin with, and who have a vested interest in spending a minimum amount of money in resolution of it.

In the New York Times today we have our government at cross purposes about who even should be in charge. Ken Salazar, who has been at best a weak leader of his department, says that he will kick BP out only if they fail to perform, as if they had been doing a sterling job with disaster control so far, saying that “If we find they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, we’ll push them out of the way appropriately.”

While Admiral Allen is still saying that, “They are necessarily the modality by which this is going to get solved,” because, apparently, you can only be in charge of something if you own and can actually operate the equipment with your own hands.

And just to complete the perfect picture of utter fecklessness, a couple of cabinet members are going to fly over the oil spill sometime today.

1 comment:

bruce said...

Why is BP (apparently) not allowing anyone near the site, inspect the site, do anything, blah blah. Leaving them in charge of cleaning up their mess, maybe, but keeping everyone else away is very very suspicious, and should not be allowed.

Is thi sin internationa waters? or in US territory? (I confess, I don't actually know, so I will try and refrain from hyperbole).

BTW, why don't they just air-drop those cabinet members like a chemical dispersant - maybe that would do some good, better than just wasting time, energy, etc on a fly-over.

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