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Morning Bell: Was Obama’s Oil Spill Response ‘Not Fully Competent’ or ‘Not Fully Candid’?
Posted By Conn Carroll On October 7, 2010 @ 9:29 am In Energy and Environment,The Morning Bell | 48 Comments
On August 4, Carol Browner, director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and Fox News morning shows to declare Mission Accomplished on handling the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. Specifically, she told the Today show : “I think it’s also important to note that our scientists have done an initial assessment and more than three-quarters of the oil is gone, the vast majority of the oil is gone.” Now it appears that Browner spoke too soon and, even worse, suppressed criticism of the Obama administration’s assessment of the spill.
When scientists from the University of South Florida (USF) had the audacity to question the Obama administration’s “science,”  the White House pushed back hard. William Hogarth, dean of marine sciences at USF, told the St. Petersburg Times that administration officials pressured him to retract USF’s public announcement, and he compared it to being “beat up” by federal officials. University of Southern Mississippi oceanographer Vernon Asper also drew Obama administration ire : “We expected that NOAA would be very pleased. NOAA instead responded by trying to discredit us.”
Yesterday, the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling issued four preliminary working papers on the Obama administration’s response to the oil spill. Their paper titled The Amount and Fate of the Oil  reads:
By initially underestimating the amount of oil flow and then, at the end of the summer, appearing to underestimate the amount of oil remaining in the Gulf, the federal government created the impression that it was either not fully competent to handle the spill or not fully candid with the American people about the scope of the problem.
President Barack Obama’s failures of either competence or candidness regarding the size of the oil spill are just the beginning of his administration’s botched disaster response. From the beginning there was a complete lack of coordination  between local governments, BP, the federal government, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard, not to mention the refusal to allow expertise  and resources  from foreign parties until months into the spill . Then there was the overzealous enforcement of labor  and environmental  regulations  that slowed clean up and recovery.
Instead of rolling up his sleeves and fighting the disaster head on, President Obama used the disaster for political gain to push his existing environmental agenda. He used the spill to push his stalled energy tax bill in the Senate  and then instituted an all out ban on deep water oil development. Then when a federal judge threw out his original ban because it was “arbitrary and capricious,” President Obama doubled-down expanding the ban even wider .
A recent poll  by the Pew Research Center found that nearly six in ten, or 57 percent, say the country is not better prepared for another disaster. They are right . But there are steps Congress can take to better prepare our nation for future spills. First , federal response efforts must be synchronized. Responses to “Spills of National Significance” should be managed under the National Response Framework. The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 should be amended to make oil spill responses consistent with the Robert T. Stafford Act’s intergovernmental approach. Second , bolster the resources of the U.S. Coast Guard—including the National Strike Team assets that respond to spills, the service’s ship and aviation fleet, and the size and training of the Coast Guard reserve, which were tasked to support operations. Finally, we must reform our oil spill liability framework  so that all parties are properly incentivized to minimize the possibility and danger of future incidents.
Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org
URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2010/10/07/morning-bell-was-obamas-oil-spill-response-not-fully-competent-or-not-fully-candid/
URLs in this post:
 told the Today show: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38593566/ns/meet_the_press-transcripts
 question the Obama administration’s “science,”: http://www.allgov.com/Controversies/ViewNews/Scientists_Claim_Obama_Administration_Tried_to_Control_Oil_Spill_Reports_100812
 drew Obama administration ire: http://www.tampabay.com/news/environment/usf-says-government-tried-to-squelch-their-oil-plume-findings/1114225
 The Amount and Fate of the Oil: http://www.oilspillcommission.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Working%20Paper.Amount%20and%20Fate.For%20Release.pdf
 a complete lack of coordination: http://dailycaller.com/2010/06/09/fed-up-with-bp%E2%80%99s-lack-of-response-one-florida-county-wants-cleanup-reins/2/
 expertise: http://www.foundry.org/2010/06/22/our-government-slowed-down-the-gulf-cleanup/
 resources: http://www.foundry.org/2010/06/24/flooded-with-help-but-oil-spill-cleanup-still-flailing/
 until months into the spill: http://blog.heritage.org http://finance.yahoo.com/news/US-accepts-international-apf-4104246595.html?x=0&.v=2
 labor: http://www.foundry.org/2010/07/12/morning-bell-oil-spill-response-is-stuck-on-stupid/
 environmental: http://www.foundry.org/2010/07/15/live-from-the-gulf-local-officials-forced-to-fight-bureaucracy-more-than-oil-spill-video/
 regulations: http://www.foundry.org/2010/07/09/oil-spill-follies-bayou-myth-or-bureaucratic-red-tape/
 He used the spill to push his stalled energy tax bill in the Senate: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/02/AR2010060200380.html
 Then when a federal judge threw out his original ban because it was “arbitrary and capricious,” President Obama doubled-down expanding the ban even wider: http://www.foundry.org/2010/07/12/obama-institutes-offshore-drilling-moratorium-%E2%80%A6-again/
 recent poll: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iaYfzL544nW-5dA6VnY6BFDibCJwD9HR928O2
 They are right: http://www.foundry.org/2010/08/27/polls-show-americans-aware-of-dismal-disaster-prep/
 First: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2010/08/Critical-Lessons-from-the-Federal-Response-to-the-Gulf-Oil-Spill
 reform our oil spill liability framework: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2010/08/Oil-Spill-Liability-A-Plan-for-Reform
 another major blow to President Obama’s efforts to try terrorists in civilian criminal court: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/07/nyregion/07ghailani.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper
 health insurance premiums in Atlanta are expected to spike: http://atlanta.bizjournals.com/atlanta/stories/2010/10/04/story4.html?b=1286164800^4023051
 here.: http://www.foundry.org/2010/10/06/obama-tax-hike-plan-still-supported-by-myths-and-straw-men/
 the country’s largest labor union: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1010/43205.html
 new study: http://jec.senate.gov/republicans/public/index.cfm?p=PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=0ac67902-236e-4072-8575-86013935091b
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