BP, Obama, and the EPA

BP’s Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill has caused environmental and economic damage and a political circus. Have you ever heard of the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Contingency Plan Act? This law was passed in 1994 and it specifically charges the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with mitigating damage from major oil spills. In response to that act, the EPA, itself, says, “When a major oil spill occurs in the United States, coordinated teams of local, state, and national personnel are called upon to help contain the spill, clean it up, and ensure that damage to human health and the environment is minimized. Without careful planning and clear organization, efforts to deal with large oil spills could be slow, ineffective, and potentially harmful to response personnel and the environment. In the United States, the system for organizing responses to major oil spills is called the National Response System.” The Act makes a prompt and effective response to a major oil spill a national priority. So how are they doing?

Some (mainly conservative) columnists have attributed Obama’s Nero-like lack of concern to ulterior motives. For instance, Obama’s refusal to accept aid from the Dutch government is said to be a sop to the labor unions. And, Obama is using the oil spill disaster to renew his push for Cap & Trade climate legislation.

Maybe there are ulterior motives, but more likely, the less-than-prompt and effective response is probably due to incompetence by Obama and his bureaucracies, just like FEMA’s failure after Katrina. For instance the EPA dithered while considering the possible toxic effects of an oil dispersant that BP wanted to use. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is incensed with the Coast Guard because they stopped cleanup efforts to check whether the crews had proper fire extinguishers and life vests.

Meanwhile, Congress is holding hearings, with all their sound and fury, in a feigned effort to investigate BP (and give “face time” to legislators). Such hearings have no practical value in mitigating the oil spill.

Obama used the oil spill as an excuse to impose a six-month moratorium of deep water drilling, possibly to promote more “alternative energy” schemes. Obama said is was for “safety” concerns by the Department of the Interior, but analysis by the Wall Street Journal shows that this was all about politics. Another possible ulterior motive: the oil spill and Obama’s moratorium will aid Obama contributor George Soros who is heavily involved in Brazilian oil. Brazil stands to benefit from the BP oil spill catastrophe as the US moratorium makes more rigs available for other countries.

Yes, BP should be held responsible for the loss of economic activity caused by the accident. But government action, and inaction, is making things worse. They are not letting a good crisis go to waste.