Gulf of Mexico oil spill

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President Obama directed the United States Coast Guard to dump toxic disperants into the Gulf of Mexico despite known health hazards to humans and wildlife. [3]
The Gulf of Mexico oil spill began on 20 April 2010 when the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil drilling rig operated by BP (known as British Petroleum until 2000) exploded and sank.[1] Oil began leaking at a rate eventually estimated at 2.5 million gallons per day, resulting in massive environmental degradation.[2] The federal government reported that 206 million gallons of crude oil leaked before the spill was stopped on July 15.[3] The blowout killed eleven workers. Despite the known toxicity of the dispersant Corexit, the Obama administration dumped millions of gallons of the hazardous chemical into the Gulf of Mexico with C-130 aircraft provided by the U.S. Coast Guard[4]and the Air Force.[5]

On 31 March 2010 President Obama announced a plan for exploitation of offshore oil reserves during a speech at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, D.C.[6] The President's actions have been labeled, "a decision to endanger our coastal ecosystems with the risk of catastrophic oil spills."[7] Defending the decision, the President remarked,

oil rigs today generally don’t cause spills. They are technologically very advanced."[8][9]

Since taking office the Obama administration approved 346 oil drilling plans without securing permits required by law from the federal agency that assesses environmental impacts.[10] President Barack Obama has been widely criticized for an unprepared and bungled response, most notably from former supporters.

As of 15 July 2010 BP announced that the gushing well had been successfully capped. As of 4 August the government reported that only 26% of the originally leaked oil could be located in the Gulf.[11]

Contents

The Obama plan

Map of expanded areas of offshore oil drilling authorized by President Obama on 31 March 2010.[12]
Source: United States Department of Interior.

Obama called for expanded development and production throughout the Gulf of Mexico. The Department of Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS) estimates that the Gulf of Mexico contains 36-41.5 billion barrels of oil and 161-207 trillion cubic feet of natural gas resources. According a DOI press release, Obama's plan would "expand oil and gas development and exploration" while "protecting fisheries, tourism, and places off U.S. coasts that are not appropriate for development."[13]

The Associated Press has reported on the role ex-government regulators play in lobbying and influence; the chief of staff of the MSS's Gulf of Mexico region once stated that deep water drilling had "few or no regulations or standards."[14] Two years later the senior official left his job in the MMS to work for BP.[15] During President Obama's first year in office, as BP's regulatory compliance and environmental manager, the ex-MMS official lobbied the U.S. Ocean Policy Task Force to "carefully weigh policies that may establish exclusionary zones" or "disrupt the MMS leasing program," according to a statement posted at whitehouse.gov.[16] He further stated that BP wanted access to off-limit areas such as the eastern Gulf of Mexico[17] which President Obama approved in March 2010.

Total U.S. offshore crude oil production in 2009 was 1.7 million barrels a day, of which 1.6 million barrels a day came from the U.S. section of the Gulf of Mexico.[18]

According to the New York Times, President Obama "said several times during his presidential campaign that he supported expanded offshore drilling. He noted in his State of the Union address[19] in January [2010] that weaning the country from imported oil would require “tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development.”[20][21]

When questioned about the Obama regulators "cozy relationship" with oil companies the president responded, "absolutely I take responsibility for that."[22]

Obama administration asks Court to allow BP drilling in the Gulf of Mexico

Less than four months after President Barack Obama took office a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. found that the U.S. Government was unprepared for a major spill at sea, relying on an "irrational" environmental analysis of the risks of offshore drilling. The Obama administration urged the court to revisit the decision. In its arguments to the court, the Obama administration said that the loss of royalties on the oil, estimated at almost $10 billion, "may have significant financial consequences for the federal government."

Among the existing leases was the Lease Sale #206. That deal included BP's acquisition, for $34 million, of the acreage encompassing the Deep Water Horizons well.

A day after the administration's petition, the industry's main lobbying group, the American Petroleum Institute, made its own case echoing the government's arguments. "The significance of [Gulf of Mexico] activities under the five-year program cannot be overstated," the API argued.

Secretary Ken Salazar expressed confidence that problems within the Minerals Management Service that led to poor oversight of offshore drilling were resolved. In September 2009, in testimony before the House Natural Resources Committee, Salazar listed steps he had taken to make sure problems "don't occur in the future."

In Senate hearings held in mid-November 2009, Obama MMS Deputy Director Walter Cruickshank assured the Committee panel fears of containing a catastrophic blowout were misplaced, saying the U.S. had "what we believe is the most aggressive oil spill contingency planning...in the world."[23]

Approval of BP's response plan

The Obama administration accepted and approved BP's regional oil spill response plan for the Gulf of Mexico dated 30 June 2009[24] and covered all the company’s operations in the Gulf. The plan lists

  • “Sea Lions, Seals, Sea Otters [and] Walruses” as “Sensitive Biological Resources” in the Gulf, suggesting that portions were cribbed from previous Arctic exploratory planning;
  • Gives a web site for a Japanese home shopping site as the link to one of its “primary equipment providers for BP in the Gulf of Mexico Region [for] rapid deployment of spill response resources on a 24 hour, 7 days a week basis;” and
  • Directs its media spokespeople to never make “promises that property, ecology, or anything else will be restored to normal.”[25]

The government approved plan made no mention about tracking sub-surface oil plumes from deepwater blowouts or preventing disease (viruses, bacteria, etc.) transmission to captured animals in rehabilitation facilities.

British Petroleum

During the first 100 days of the Obama administration, the Minerals Management Service (MMS) of the Department of the Interior granted a “categorical exclusion” from a detailed environmental impact statement required under law[26] to BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling operation, according to the Washington Post.[27] BP's exploration plan received in the Administration's MMS field office on 23 March 2009 states "no mitigation measures other than those required by regulation and BP policy will be employed to avoid, diminish or eliminate potential impacts on environmental resources." It declared any spill would have only "sub-lethal" effects on fish and marine mammals but it was "unlikely that an accidental oil spill would occur from the proposed activities."[28]

As Senator, and while running for president, Barack Obama received a total of $77,051 from BP[29] and has taken more money from BP's Political Action Committee and individuals connected with BP over the past 20 years than any other candidate, according to FEC disclosure records.[30] Likewise, the independent watchdog Center for Responsive Politics noted, "the “top recipient of BP-related donations during the 2008 cycle was President Barack Obama himself.”[31][32]

Obama approved drilling permits for BP without the statutory requirement to file an environmental impact assessment,[33] the handling of spills in a worst-case scenario,[34] and fostered a cozy relationship between government and the oil industry.[35] No other candidate took more money from BP in the past two decades than Obama received in only six years.[36]

Talk show personality Ed Schultz of MSNBC reiterated a call for campaign finance reform as a result of Barack Obama's ties to BP and the government's response.[37]

Transocean, owner of the Deepwater Horizons drilling rig leased to BP, was the recipient of the Obama Mineral Management Service's, Safety Award for Excellence.[38][39] On 30 April 2010 Transocean's stock fell after President Obama’s chief strategist, David Axelrod, made comments nine days into the disaster and the government raised estimates to more than fives times of what had previously been reported about how much oil was leaking into the Gulf of Mexico.[40]

It has been reported in the financial press that among owners of BP[41] are

  • New Jersey Division of Investment (51 million shares)
  • California Public Employees Retirement System (36 million shares)
  • Pennsylvania Public School Employees Retirement System (7.1 million shares)
  • Teachers Retirement System of Alabama (4.5 million shares)
  • Employees Retirement System of Texas (4.1 million shares)
  • Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (1.1 million shares)
  • Illinois State Board of Investment (1.1 million shares)[42]
  • Indiana Public Employees' Retirement Fund (0.7 million shares)
  • Washington State Investment Board (1.2 million shares)
  • United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund (21.9 million shares).

BP was found wilfully negligent during the Bush administration in a Texas refinery explosion incident, and was assessed $108 million in fines - the highest workplace safety fines in U.S. history.[43]

Nalco and Corexit

Dermatitis is one immediate health concern[44] of the Obama administration's decision to use toxic substances to disperse the visibility of the spill. [4]Residents, cleanup workers, and tourists alike may be affected. [5]

Nalco of Naperville, Illinois formed a joint venture with Exxon Chemical in 1994 and the company's current leadership includes several executives from BP. Nalco reported it sold in excess of $40 million to BP of its dispersant, Corexit, shortly after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster.

Of 18 dispersants approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 12 were found to be more effective on southern Louisiana crude than Corexit, EPA data show.[45] Two of the 12 were found to be 100 percent effective on Gulf of Mexico crude, whereas two Corexit products rated only 56 percent and 63 percent effective.[46] The toxicity of the other 12 was shown to be in some cases 10 or 20 times less than Corexit, according to the EPA.[47] "It's a chemical that the oil industry makes to sell to itself, basically," said Richard Charter, a senior policy adviser for Defenders of Wildlife.[48]

Corexit was found to be one of the most toxic dispersal agents ever developed.[49] With seasonal warming of water temperature the toxicity grows. Corexit is banned in the United Kingdom due to environmental concerns.[50] The Obama EPA gave BP the green light to apply Corexit to the spill.[51] At the Congressional hearing investigating the Gulf oil spill disaster, Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York raised the prospect of "thousands and thousands of people getting sick or dying" as a result of the administration's sanctioned use of the dispersant.[52] Critics allege use of dispersants like Corexit are largely for cosmetic purposes. Nalco has been a frequent contributor to the campaign of Sen. Mary Landrieu[53] of Louisiana.[54]

Deepwater Horizon

Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, April 21, 2010 (U.S. Coast Guard)

On Earth Day 2010, a BP-leased oil drilling rig sank to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico two days after it exploded, creating what has been described as the "worst environmental disaster in US history."[55] Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar told CNN "It potentially is catastrophic," and "I think we have to prepare for the worst."[56][57]

Congressional investigators think they have identified the rigs blowout preventer as the cause of the explosion. [58] The blowout preventer was leaking hydraulic fluid, had a dead battery,[59] and was inspected by the Obama Minerals Management Service (MMS) only two weeks before to the explosion[60] which killed 11 people. Amy Goodman, a leftist radio talk show host, has suggested those responsible should be prosecuted for manslaughter.[61]

Blowout preventers are meant to shut off the well, and the last line of defense is a set of shear rams which cut the pipe and seal off the well.[62] The MMS, the Obama administration agency that regulates offshore drilling along with the Coast Guard, is supposed to require proof that shear rams are powerful enough to shut the well. Michael Saucier, MMS's regional supervisor testified before Congress that the MMS did not require BP to file a "scenario for potential blowout."[63] The MMS certified that BP "has the capacity to respond, to the maximum extent practicable, to a worst-case discharge, or a substantial threat of such a discharge."[64]

A May 2010 Inspector General's report revealed at least two MMS regulatory inspectors admitted to being under the influence of the illegal drug methamphetamine while on the job.[65][66]

Environmental disaster

Projections of the flow of the spill over the summer of 2010. [6]

On 29 April 2010 oil began washing ashore in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana; four weeks later local leaders still were begging President Obama for federal assistance in responding to the disaster which was overtaking hundreds of miles of shoreline.[67]

Crude oil has washed into marshes, estuaries and onto beaches in Mississippi and Alabama. Wildlife has been killed and efforts are underway to save oil-coated birds. Without capping the well Florida's Everglades may be turned into a "dead zone." Scientists expect currents to carry the oil slick to the eastern seaboard of the United States, fouling beaches and estuaries like the Chesapeake Bay and fishing grounds of the Grand Banks off Newfoundland.

Silverfish

Most scientists agree that Corexit 9500 will have a much larger biological effect when it reaches coastal areas teeming with wildlife.[68] Many species are being threatened at a crucial time in their life cycle.[69] In testing done by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the dispersant Corexit 9500 was found to be extremely lethal to silverfish, a benchmark organism in toxicity testing.[70]

Gulf menhaden

Gulf menhaden are a species harvested mostly for fish meal and fish oil. Menhaden could be badly affected by the spill.

Coral, oyster and shrimp

Corals, oyster and shrimp likewise are critically affected. Richard Charter, a foremost expert on marine biology and oil spills who is a senior policy advisor for Marine Programmes for Defenders of Wildlife and is chairman of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council has said, “There is a chemical toxicity to the dispersant compound that in many ways is worse than oil,” which "in so doing you may be more seriously damaging the ecosystem offshore.”[71] Shrimp were found to be extremely vulnerable to the lethal effects of the chemical dispersant Corexit 9500 used by Obama administration disaster relief agencies and BP in testing done by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).[72]

Brown pelican

Dead birds and sea turtles.

The Louisiana state bird, the Brown Pelican, was removed from protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 2009. The Obama administration approved BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig without the proper environmental impact assessment (EIA) required by law. The disaster occurred just as breeding season commenced.

Other bird species

Other species endangered by the oil spill are American oystercatcher and Wilson's plover.

Sea turtles

As several species of sea turtles move through the Gulf during their spring nesting season, they need to surface to breathe.

Toxic oil spill rain

A report prepared by the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources warned that the leaking crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico is about to become the worst environmental catastrophe in all of human history, threatening the entire eastern half of North America with “total destruction.” Russian scientists based the assessment on the use of millions of gallons of the government approved chemical dispersant Corexit.

The Russian scientists outlined that Corexit, with its 2.61ppm toxicity level, combined with the seasonal warming of Gulf of Mexico waters, the molecules will be able to “phase transition” from their present liquid to a gaseous state allowing them to be absorbed into clouds and released as “toxic rain” upon all of Eastern North America.

The scientists warned should a Hurricane Katrina like storm form in the Gulf while tens of millions of gallons of Corexit are floating on or near the surface, the resulting “toxic rain” falling upon the North American continent could “theoretically” destroy all microbial life to any depth it reaches resulting in an “unimaginable environmental catastrophe” destroying all kinds of life forms.[73]

The response

Initially Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Coast Guard reported on 23 April 2010 there was no leak from the sunken oil rig.[74] The next day the Obama administration officially estimated a leak from the sunken well at 1000 barrels per day.[75] The Associated Press reported it took nine days after the explosion and the tragic loss of 11 workers lives before Obama made public commenta and acknowledged the disaster[76] and appointed a national incident commander.[77]

BP's stock fell[78] on news of the "the worsening oil spill. " Administration estimates were raised to 5000 barrels per day.[79]

U.S. Government dumps toxic dispersants into the Gulf of Mexico

After President Obama's approval of the Deepwater Horizon's drilling rig permit and regulatory failures costing 11 workers their lives, the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico continued unabated for 86 days.

Wired Science reports the Obama administration disaster-relief agencies are using a toxic chemical to disperse oil in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster. Use of dispersants are said to be a public relations strategy.[80] Secretary Janet Napolitano of the Department of Homeland Security acknowledged[81] the U.S government was dumping toxic chemicals from C-130 cargo aircraft onto the spill.[82] Jackie Savitz of the ocean-conservation group Oceana stated the use of dispersants is only slightly less horrendous than the Gulf oil spill itself. "You're basically pouring chemicals into the ocean, which is never a good thing."[83] According to a 2009 Environmental Protection Agency report dispersants have not been used in the United State prior to the Obama administration's approval at BP'S request "because of possible long-term environmental effects, difficulties with timely and effective application, disagreement among scientists and research data about their environmental effects, effectiveness, and toxicity concerns" and the effects "are still unknown."[84] Residents in areas close to the oil spill have reported odors and symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, eye irritation, and respiratory problems.[85]

Disregard for worker safety

Cleanup workers exposed to the Obama adminsitration's decision to use known toxic substances to disperse the spill. Critics allege dispersants are ineffective and largely for cosmetic purposes.

The Guardian (uk) has reported the controversy over Corexit exposes the Obama administration to criticism that its scientific agencies have been too accommodating to BP's strategy. In addition to the use of Corexit, the Obama Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came under fire for withholding test results on the toxicity of the water close to shore.[86]

The dispersant 2-BE is known to cause heath dangers to clean up workers[87] and wildlife alike.[88] 2-BE has been documented to cause the breakdown of red blood cells, leading to blood in urine and feces, and can damage the kidneys, liver, spleen and bone marrow of humans – effects not included on the information sheet for workers.[89] The dispersant Corexit 9500 is associated with headaches, vomiting and reproductive problems as sides effects to clean-up workers.[90] Lawrence Duffy of the University of Alaska claims dispersants "are more a public relations measure than a preventive one. It has an effect on our psychology because we don't see the oil slick,"[91] though oil particles continue to do damage.[92]

Government mismanagement of relief efforts

Three weeks into the disaster National Public Radio reported the Obama administration's official figures were still grossly underestimated[93] and after the first month it was finally admitted the spill was nearly three times larger than earlier thought.[94]

Federal officials did not begin burning the leaking oil off the surface of the water until one full week after the rig collapsed.[95] Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal criticized President Obama for his slow response.[96] The New York Times castigated the White House for delays and not moving quick enough, calling the evidence "damning" and declaring the Gulf oil spill a "huge disaster whose consequences might have been minimized with swifter action" from the Obama administration.[97] One month into the spill, Democratic stalwarts James Carville,[98] Chris Matthews,[99] and Donna Brazile[100] criticized the inept and bungled response to the spreading catastrophe.

Chris Oynes (left) of the Mineral Management Service presents Keelan Adamson (right) of Transocean the MMS's,
Safety Award for Excellence (SAFE),[101] at the MMS National Award luncheon, 7 May 2009.[102]
Source: Beacon magazine

The White House lacked any type of plan to combat the disaster. House Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer publicly admitted that the Obama Administration was ill-prepared to deal with the situation. [103] While the disaster steadily grew, Obama did not discuss the crisis at length until he appeared at a photo op at Venice, Louisiana on 3 May 2010.[104] He would order a moratorium on all future deep sea oil platforms until they determine the problems associated with the current situation. As to be expected, Obama tries to remove himself from blame saying "the system failed", this despite the fact the he heads the system. Then he pointed fingers of blame at oil companies while taking an indirect jab at the Bush administration. [105]

For too long, for a decade or more, there has been a cozy relationship between the oil companies and the federal agency that permits them to drill. It seems as if permits were too often issued based on little more than assurances of safety from the oil companies. That cannot and will not happen anymore.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs did his best to put a good spin on the disaster claiming the response was "comprehensive and fast." Meanwhile, the Democrat-led Congress ordered public hearings from oil executives. President Obama blamed others saying the answers from oil executives were a "ridiculous spectacle," "You had executives of BP and Transocean and Halliburton falling over each other to point the finger of blame at somebody else." [106] As the disaster progressed and questions arose over the government's misreporting and withholding[107] of information from the public about the true dimensions of the calamity, the Associated Press noted,

First [Obama] was going to make BP pay for the Gulf oil mess. Then he declared himself in charge. Now he's trying to find out 'whose ass to kick' and making clear he'd fire BP's chief if only he could.[108]
Estimated impact of Obama Energy Tax in job losses.
Total job loss: 2.2 million.
Source: National Black Chamber of Commerce [7]

Revitalizing cap and trade energy tax

Main article: Cap and trade

President Obama has been roundly criticized by Democrats and Republicans alike for attempting to use the national tragedy to revitalized his failed Cap and Trade energy proposals. The Obama proposal, widely perceived as a job-killer tax increase, has stalled in the U.S. Senate. California Senator Dianne Feinstein has stated the climate bill "isn't going to stop the oil leak."[109]

Environmentalists want the President to push the program. Fred Krupp of the Environmental Defense Fund calls the opportunity "a political moment" to pass a carbon tax estimated to cost the average U.S. household $4300 per year.[110]

Joel Benenson, who conducted polling for Obama’s presidential campaign, thinks the tax increase could pass, but wary Senate Democrats say otherwise. “There’s not a great call for it" said West Virginia Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller. “It’s unrelated” to the immediate crisis in the Gulf noted Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat from Nebraska.[111]


Assistance of foreign governments

Nearly two-months after the disaster took place, the Obama administration decides to utilize the assistance offered by 17 countries, the U.N and the European Union. [112] International aid offers already accepted include two skimmers and 2.6 miles (4.2 kilometers) of boom from Mexico, three sets of sweeping arm systems from the Netherlands and 1.86 miles (3.0 kilometers) of boom from Canada, the State Department said. The State Department noted that it has assisted BP in directly sourcing equipment and technical experts from around the world, including from Algeria, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Latvia, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. [113]

Public relations offensive

Faced with declining poll numbers and a public relations calamity, President Obama took to the airwaves nearly 60 days into the spill. A New York Times Op-ed commented,

All we got from President Obama was a vague call for some sort of new energy policy. Plus a Gulf Coast Restoration Plan, an oil spill study commission, a reminder that the secretary of energy won a Nobel Prize in physics and 17 references to God, prayer, blessings or faith.[114][115]

Former speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter, Chris Matthews, chided the President after his address to the nation,

Ludicrous that he keeps saying [Secretary of Energy] Chu has a Nobel prize. I'll barf if he does it one more time.[116]

Misrepresentation of evidence

Drilling moratorium based on junk science

The Washington Post reported in Novemeber 2010 the oil spill that damaged the Gulf of Mexico's reefs and wetlands also threatens to stain the Obama administration's reputation for relying on science to guide policy. The Department of Interior's concluded that the White House edited a drilling safety report in a way that made it falsely appear that scientists and experts backed the administration's six-month moratorium on new deep-water drilling. The editing changes by the White House resulted "in the implication that the moratorium recommendation had been peer reviewed." But it hadn't been. Outside scientists were asked only to review new safety measures for offshore drilling.[117]

In October 2010 the Presidential Oil Spill Commission said that the White House Office of Management and Budget delayed publication of a scientific report that forecast how much oil could reach the gulf's shores. The report said that President Obama's energy adviser and Socialist International operative Carol Browner,[118] mischaracterized on national TV a government analysis about where the oil went, saying it showed most of the oil was "gone." It also said Browner and the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Jane Lubchenco, contributed to the public's perception that the report was more exact than it was.

Academics, environmentalists and federal investigators have accused the administration since the April 2010 spill of downplaying scientific findings, misrepresenting data and misconstruing the opinions of experts it solicited.[119]

Economic impacts

Oil slick map as of May 30, 2010.

The economic impact of the Gulf of Mexico oil drilling disaster will be large and devastating to several key industries, including fishing, tourism, and transportation.[120]

The top commercial species in terms of value are shrimp ($367 million), menhaden ($64 million), oysters ($59 million), and blue crab ($38 million).[121] As of 25 May 2010, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) closed 54,096 square miles to commercial and recreational fishing.[122] These areas are some of the richest fishing grounds in the Gulf of Mexico for major commercial species such as white shrimp, blue crab, and oysters.

Employment in fishing

The most immediate economic impact of the oil spill has been on the Gulf fishing[123] industry. The number of jobs at stake, which includes seafood processing and related wholesale and retail, is over 200,000 with related economic activity of $5.5 billion.[124]

Dockside sales in Louisiana are approximately $660 million.[125] Loses to the Louisiana fishing could be as high as $2.5 billion.[126]

Employment in tourism

The tourist industry employs 620,000 people who earn over $9 billion in wages in the Gulf of Mexico region. Analysts say Florida alone could lose $3 billion in tourism.[127]

In 2008, recreational anglers took 25.4 million fishing trips and spent over $12 billion on equipment and trips in the Gulf region.[128] Some of the most popular recreational species include snappers, several types of drum, sheepshead, and Spanish mackerel. Recreational fisheries support businesses such as charters, bait and tackle, and services such as restaurants and hotels.

In 2000, 21.9 million people visited Gulf beaches and accounted for 177.2 million beach days.[129]

Transportation

The Offshore Marine Service Association (OMSA),[130] the national trade association for U.S. flag vessels in the energy sector, criticized the Obama administration's moratorium on offshore drilling projects. 100,000 jobs were immediately affected by the president's decision as companies began cancelling contracts to carry supplies, forcing layoffs. "The industry has struggled to climb out of a severe economic downturn. The moratorium threatens any hope of recovery and creates the potential for economic hardship that could last a decade or longer," remarked OMSA President Ken Wells.

OMSA estimates that for every mariner who works on-board a vessel, there are nine other Americans working in shore-side jobs that support vessel operations. Beyond the vessel crew, the negative consequences of the moratorium could impact everyone from service technicians supporting everything from diesel engines to the air condition systems to the local grocer who supplies food for the boat's galley.

Offshore vessels are a major part of the tax base in many coastal communities. Gulf Coast state and local government revenues will also decrease due to lower income tax and sales tax collections.

Disruption of shipping traffic in and out of the Port of New Orleans will impact barge, container, and tanker traffic in the Mississippi Delta and along the Mississippi River. Prices of all types of commodities would affected.

Insurance industry

BP, the operator on the oil drilling lease with a 65% stake, insured itself, rather than buying coverage from insurance companies. Industry analysts estimate total costs related to the oil spill cleanup and damages could exceed $14 billion. [131]

Lost revenue to state and local governments

Louisiana

A Greater New Orleans study indicates the Obama administration's moratorium could cost Louisiana as many as 22,000 jobs and more than $782 million in revenues.

With the average deepwater rig employing 230 workers with an average salary of $98,000, the study puts the tax revenue impact at $151 million if drilling were to resume within 18 months. Greater New Orleans President and CEO Michael Hecht says it’s difficult to be optimistic based on President Obama’s Oval Office address on 15 June 2010. President Obama's action “has the potential to turn an ecological tragedy into an economic calamity,” Hecht said.[132] The study foresees in a worse case scenario the loss of more than 22,000 jobs, 3,450 of them directly tied to the operating rigs and 18,945 with indirect ties such as catering firms and other companies that serve U.S energy producers.

Fearing that the drilling moratorium "could exacerbate, rather than alleviate, the impacts of this spill upon both our economy and our environment," U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu wrote to President Obama on 11 June 2010.[133] Landrieu stated,

more than 300,000 Louisianians are employed either directly or indirectly by the oil and gas industry. ..The immediate impacts to the economy are devastating enough: idling the 33 rigs currently permitted to drill in the deepwater Gulf would immediately impact employment for roughly 38,000 crewmen, deck hands, engineers, welders, ROV operators, caterers, helicopter pilots, and others who operate and service these vessels. That's like closing 12 large motor vehicle assembly plants in one state, all at once.

Lost state and local tax revenues will accrue at a rate between $8 million and $15 million a month. Federal royalty losses will be substantial and a significant drop in tolls collected for the Louisiana Highway 1 bridge at Leeville, the main artery to the Port Fourchon energy port is projected as well.

Texas

The Texas state comptroller’s office reported collection of $2.3 billion in oil and natural gas production taxes in fiscal year 2009 and $4.1 billion in 2008. The tax revenue is used to repair roads and fund schools, among other state services. Although no official analysis of President Obama's decision to place a moratorium on offshore production has been compiled yet, the Texas comptroller’s office said it’s unclear how much of an impact the president's decision will have on state services. Experts warn the president's decision could threaten tens of thousands of jobs in the Houston area.[134]

Alabama

Manufacturing jobs in Alabama are at risk as a result of President Obama's actions, as no new orders for equipment are coming in.[135]

Increased dependency on foreign oil

New Jersey Democrat Senator Robert Menendez proposed a ban on new offshore drilling permits and submitted a bill that would retroactively raise the financial liability of BP from $75 million to $10 billion. [136] Oklahoma Republican Senator James Inhofe successfully killed the bill saying it would reduce competition and shut down smaller independent oil companies in favor of larger companies.

Too big to fail

An oil industry trade publication[137] reports President Obama and senior White House staff, as well as Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, are working with BP on legislation that would raise the cap on liability for damage claims from those affected by the oil disaster from $75 million to $10 billion. However the disaster has the real potential of costing nearly $1 trillion. Critics point out that in the deal between Obama and BP, $10 billion is a drop in the bucket for a trillion dollar disaster. Talk is noted in government circles, including FEMA, of the need to nationalize BP in order to compensate those who will ultimately be affected by the worst oil disaster in the history of the world, and BP would, if its assets were nationalized, be credited with almost a trillion dollars for compensation purposes.[138][139]

After Obama charged Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the disaster, BP establish a $20 billion extrajudicial fund managed by an Obama appointee.[140] Former CNN news writer and radio talk show host Mike Malloy suggested Holder is beholden to corporatist interests.[141]

Criticism of the Obama administration's handling of the disaster

Memorial service for the 11 workers killed in the explosion.
Reuters [8]

Former top adviser to President Bill Clinton, James Carville, turned visibly emotional in a interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's Good Morning America over President Barack Obama's "lackadaisical" response to the Gulf oil spill disaster.

The political stupidity is unbelievable. ... The President of the United States could have come down here. He could have been involved with the families of these 11 people...... He could have implemented a plan in anticipation of this... He could be commandeering tankers and making BP bring tankers in and clean this up.... He could be deploying people to the coast. He could be with the corps of engineers and the Coast Guard with these people in Plaquemines Parish, doing something about these regulations. These people are crying. They're begging for something down here. And it just looks like he's not involved in this! Man, you have got to get down here and take control of this! Put somebody in charge of this and get this thing moving! We're about to die down here![142][143][144]

Carville also said in a separate interview on CNN with Anderson Cooper,

They are risking everything by this ‘go along with BP’ strategy they have. They seem, like, lackadaisical on this...they seem like they’re inconvenienced by this, this is some giant thing getting in their way and somehow or another, if you let BP handle it, it’ll all go away. It’s not going away. It’s growing out there. It is a disaster of the first magnitude...the government thinks that they are partnering with BP. I think they actually believe that BP has some kind of a good motivation here. That’s one of the, sort of, whole flaws is they're naïve.[145][146]

Obama acknowledged the criticism days later in a televised press conference:

Where I was wrong was in my belief that the oil companies had their act together when it came to worst-case scenarios.[147]
Day 12 of the Disaster: Obama enjoys an evening of levity and banter with the Washington Press Corps at the White House Correspondent's Dinner.

MSNBC talk show host Chris Matthews[148] said on Jay Leno's Tonight Show,

The president scares me. He's been acting a little like a Vatican Observer here. When is he actually going to do something? And I worry. I know he doesn't want to take ownership of it. I know politics. He said the minute he says, 'I'm in charge,' he takes the blame.[149]

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign manager in 2008 questioned if Democratic primary voters had

underestimated the value of experience and crisis management as important attributes for their president.[150]

Donna Brazile, who managed the presidential campaign of Democratic candidate Al Gore in 2000 said on ABC's This Week,

One of the problems I have with the administration is that they're not tough enough. They are waiting for BP to say, ‘oh, we've got a new plan to stop the oil leak.’ They need to stop it, contain it, clean it up, and try to help us conserve our coastal wetlands.[151]

Dick Morris, an intimate adviser to President Bill Clinton observed,

these failings show that Obama is in over his head. But to the left, which bleeds for each drop of water in the gulf and cries over every turtle or shrimp or sea bird, it is an unpardonable sin...Obama's incompetence and inexperience is causing liberals to see him as arrogant, aloof, removed, conceited, suspicious of outside advice and even lazy...these character defects will haunt the president until 2012 and beyond.[152]

David Gergen worked in the Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton White House remarked,

If our government had fought WWII like the way we’re fighting the oil spill, there’s a good chance many of us would be speaking German today.[153]

Republican Chairman Michael Steele criticized the president for golfing while the oil crisis worsened. [154]

Until this problem is fixed, no more golf outings.

Peggy Noonan, a speech writer for President's Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, summed up public perceptions with,

The president, in my view, continues to govern in a way that suggests he is chronically detached from the central and immediate concerns of his countrymen.... he has not, almost from the day he was inaugurated, been in sync with the center....The American people have spent at least two years worrying that high government spending would, in the end, undo the republic. They saw the dollars gushing night and day...And now we have a videotape metaphor for all the public’s fears: the well gushing black oil into the Gulf of Mexico ...His philosophy is that it is appropriate for the federal government to occupy a more burly, significant and powerful place in America—confronting its problems of need, injustice, inequality. ... Then the oil spill came and government could not do the job, could not meet the need ...Katrina illustrate[d] that even though the federal government in our time has continually taken on new missions and responsibilities, the more it took on, the less it seemed capable of performing even its most essential jobs. Conservatives got this point—they know it without being told—but liberals and progressives did not. They thought Katrina was the result only of George W. Bush’s incompetence and conservatives’ failure to “believe in government.” But Mr. Obama was supposed to be competent....It’s not good to have a president in this position—weakened, polarizing and lacking broad public support—less than halfway through his term. That it is his fault is no comfort.[155]

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote,

Obama and top aides who believe in his divinity make a mistake to dismiss complaints of his aloofness as Washington white noise. He treats the press as a nuisance rather than examining his own inability to encapsulate Americans’ feelings.[156]

Actor Robert Redford demanded action from the Obama administration. The liberal special interest group Natural Resources Defense Council has Redford in a new ad decrying the lackluster response.[157] Redford made an appearance on MSNBC and said there is no one manning this ship,

In this case, we don’t need a disaster manager, we need a leader.

Liberal Hollywood director James Cameron says;

Over the last few weeks I've watched, as we all have, with growing horror and heartache, watching what's happening in the Gulf and thinking those morons don't know what they're doing. [158]

Obnoxious Hollywood liberal Rosie O'Donnell said, "We broke the womb of freaking mother Earth." [159] In addition, O'Donnell accused BP of

willful homicide, willful mass murder" and demanded BP be nationalized immediately: "I say seize their assets. Right now. Seize their assets today. Take over the company.

Brad Pitt, appears in a Spike Lee film denouncing the oil spill and his desire to see BP executives get the death penalty. [160]


Foreign reaction

Relations between allies the U.K. and U.S. are now at historic lows thanks to Barack Obama's mishandling of the oil spill. Britain had been repeatedly mocked by Obama prior to the spill[161] [162] [163] but now find themselves subjected to endless propaganda. Prominent foreign dignitaries have expressed the public's growing frustration with the administration's posturing and hunt for scapegoats. The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who supported Obama in 2008, decried "anti-British rhetoric, buck-passing and name-calling" while Lord Tebbit branded Mr Obama's conduct “despicable” and the president's rhetoric

a crude, bigoted, xenophobic display of partisan political Presidential petulance."[164][165]

The atmosphere Obama created in Britain is so toxic that the British press has labelled Barack Obama the most unpopular man in England. [166]

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  156. Once More, With Feeling, Maureen Dowd, New York Time Op Ed, 29 mMay 2010.l
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  159. Rosie O'Donnell Wants BP's Assets Seized, NewsBusters.org, June 8, 2010
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  161. Obama's DVD gift to Brown - it's the thought that counts, Guardian UK, March 6, 2009.
  162. Barack Obama sends bust of Winston Churchill on its way back to Britain, Telegraph UK, February 14, 2009.
  163. Obama disses Brit PM, American Thinker, March 5, 2009.
  164. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1285467/BP-OIL-SPILL-Lord-Tebbit-Boris-Johnson-attack-Obamas-anti-British-rhetoric.html#ixzz0rK7zthtN
  165. Boris Johnson tells Barack Obama: Stop bashing Britain, London Evening Standard, June 6, 2010.
  166. Barack Obama: the most unpopular man in Britain?, Telegraph UK, June 17, 2010.

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