Obama to address public on oil spill crisis
US President Barack Obama will address the public tonight from the White House on the topic of the BP oil spill. This will be his first major comment on the matter. It has been about two months since spill occurred.
“A hundred million gallons under the water, so to speak, or in the water and on the beaches of Florida, it’s a crisis of almost apocalyptic proportions. Everyone’s blaming everyone else,” said RT Contributor and blogger Danny Schechter.
Schechter argues that Obama was undone by his own agency, the Minerals Management Service (MMS), who was responsible for regulating the drilling practice.
“This was allowed. The government, you know, is complicit to some degree in it. “Obama now has to now try to save himself politically and at the same time try to do what he can do to push BP and everyone else to clean up this mess and it’s not going to be easy to do,” said Schechter.
Obama will speak for 15 minutes from the white House. He is expected speak to the following:
- A strategy to reorganize the MMS
- Call on BP to increase and speed up the clean-up and containment efforts in participation with the US government
- Call for an open, fair and transparent claims process that is not controlled by BP
- Discuss the beginning of a process to make the Gulf better
- Highlight how the US needs to lessen its dependence on oil and other fossil fuels
Although the speech has yet to be given, it has been criticized by right-leaning politicians and media outlets, said Schechter.
Obama had been criticized heavily for his support of offshore drilling earlier in his term. Many have said this is the perfect time for the president to change his approach and come down hard on offshore drilling.
“I think they’re right. I think the president has to come out of this with the sense that he’s in charge, that there’s leadership here, that the government is not abandoning the people of the Gulf region, that they’re taking action, that they’re pushing BP, that they’re making sure that claims are honored and that the oil is sucked up,” said Schechter.
Obama usually operates as mediator between sides, said Schechter. But, in this case Obama must take a side and stand up for the people, he argued.
How much blame falls on Obama for the handling of the oil spill?
“It’s complicated,” said Chris Stirewalt, the political editor of the Washington Examiner.
He continued, “Obviously the administration is responsible for the regulation of the petroleum industry in the United States.”
Stirewalt argues that there is some degree of culpability in the causation of the spill. The government has response relatively well, but the response has been “a complicated bureaucratic process.”
“People of all political stripes on the Gulf, what they are saying is we have lifetimes to blame each other, but right now let’s cut to the chase and let’s get relief handled in an expeditious of a manner as possible,” said Stirewalt.
The fact that Obama has chosen to address the nation from the Oval office is important. The use of the Oval office address coincides with the importance of the message. Previous addresses from the Oval office include former President George W. Bush’s address to the nation on the night of 9/11.
“They [Obama administration] are leaking polling points like BP’s leaking oil, and they are looking to close it off and staunch the political bleeding and this is a high stakes way to do it tonight, ” said Stirewalt.
Dion Rabouinb of the LA Independent Examiner said the blame goes beyond Obama and beyond BP.
“All of us, every single one of us living in this country [United States] deserve some of the blame,” said Rabouinb.
He continued, “We need to kick this oil addition. The oil addiction that we have is what’s been responsible for this disaster, Exxon-Valdez, all the other disasters because we refuse to let go of oil. We refuse to move to new sources.
Rabouinb argues that we need an oil tax to curb American oil consumption in order to break the addiction and prevent future disasters.
“When we refuse to tax oil, when we refuse to pay the price, the real price of oil, we let this sort of thing happen and we see 11 people are dead, 17 more are injured, we’ve seen seven more people go to the hospital because of contaminates. We’ve got an entire industry in the gulf that’s not been stricken down. People aren’t able to go out and work for an entire year and that’s all because of our need for this oil and we’ve got to kick it and we refuse, you know we absolutely outright refuse to do what’s necessary,” said Rabouinb.
Rabouinb argues that American’s should have begun to kick the oil habit in the 1970’s, saying we need to look to the future and begin to plan for the day the oil runs out, as opposed to merely worrying about the here and now.