Thursday, May 27, 2010

5-27-10: The Federal Response to the Gulf Oil Spill

I read something today saying the majority of people responding in a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll (six out of ten respondents) disapproved of the Federal response to the Gulf Oil Spill.

I’m a bit torn on this. It could be because I’m from the north, far from the Gulf Coast, but I’m of the opinion that, for a few weeks at least, the people in charge underestimated the volume of oil coming from the leak. I have no idea if it was deliberate or not; that’s another issue altogether. But let’s assume you’re Obama. The timing isn’t great. You had announced recently plans to continue off-shore oil drilling when an oil platform in the Gulf exploded. As easy as it would be to blame the Bush Administration for allowing the safety regulations to be ignored by oil companies, your administration is on the hook for approving the permit for the platform that exploded over a month ago. Now you’ve got Bobby Jindal, the Republican Governor of Louisiana – who coincidentally has been called the “Republican Obama in waiting”, and James Carville, a renowned Louisiana native and Democratic television personality who advised Bill Clinton, saying the Federal response has been severely lacking. What do you do?

At first this looked like a state problem. Then, once the amount of oil entering the Gulf was found to be vastly underestimated, it became a regional disaster. Louisiana is the hardest hit thus far, but it could become an issue for other Gulf states soon. As a Libertarian, I’m normally of the opinion that, if a state can handle it, let them. But Louisiana has been shouting for help, and Jindal has been very vocal in saying: “Just let us do what we can.” He’s blaming the Federal Government for holding back the relief effort. Many people are still blaming BP for their problems; not many can outright blame the Feds for the oil reaching the coastline. I think Obama is in a bit of a pickle. All he can do is hope the measures being taken by BP – the “Top Kill” is the latest attempt – works, and soon. Then, he can focus on drilling safety to help prevent future disasters.

In the end, there are faults in the Federal response, but I see a lot of it as just acts of frustration. I like what Jindal is doing, and I feel for what Carville is expressing. I was at the beach yesterday afternoon nearby, and couldn’t help but think of the oil in the estuaries and marshes in the Gulf. It’s sad.

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