Patterico's Pontifications


Obama’s Katrina (Updated x3)

Filed under: Environment,Obama — DRJ @ 1:42 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Doug Ross posts the pictorial timeline of Obama’s response to the BP oil spill. He concludes the post with this statement:

“Perhaps if the oil breached the Louisiana levees, then caught on fire, and then then turned New Orleans into a Dresden-like inferno, the President would stop campaigning for a couple of days and actually pay attention to his own, personal Katrina. Even The New York Times has noticed, decrying the President’s lackadaisical response. But I’m guessing that somehow, someway, it’s all President Bush’s fault.”

Offshore drilling and exploration is the responsibility of the federal government and the drilling companies. Thus, unlike Katrina where the responsibilities were spread among local, state, and federal governments, the Obama Administration’s Department of the Interior and its Minerals Management Service are directly and solely responsible for offshore energy regulation and management:

“The Minerals Management Service (MMS), a bureau within the Department of Interior, regulates and manages the development of energy and mineral resources in the Federal waters off the nation’s shores. MMS also collects, audits and distributes all energy and mineral revenues from these federal waters as well as from energy and mineral resources on both Federal and Indian lands.”

From the Minerals Management Service website:

“The OCS Lands Act requires the Department of the Interior (DOI) to prepare a 5-year program that specifies the size, timing and location of areas to be assessed for Federal offshore natural gas and oil leasing. It is the role of DOI to ensure that the U.S. government receives fair market value for acreage made available for leasing and that any oil and gas activities conserve resources, operate safely, and take maximum steps to protect the environment.”

That’s why the MMS has an offshore Oil Spill Program including specific provisions relating to Oil Spill Responses:

“An effective response is an amalgam of orchestrated actions by private and/or public entities that have been trained to control, contain, and clean up an oil spill as quickly and effectively as possible. For all oil spills in navigable waters of the U.S., including State and Federal offshore waters, the U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port is the designated Federal On-Scene Coordinator (FOSC) and has the authority to direct most spill response activities. Based upon the current Memorandum of Agreement between the MMS and USCG – OCS-03: Oil Discharge Planning, Preparedness, and Response (582.90 KB PDF file), however, MMS has primary responsibility related to spill abatement, and facility shutdown and/or startup.”

The MMS is a bureau of the Department of the Interior. President Obama appointed Ken Salazar as DOI Secretary. Attorney Liz Birnbaum is Obama’s Director of the MMS and her Deputy Director is also an attorney, Mary Katherine Ishee. The head of the offshore energy division is a lawyer and political scientist. With that leadership, no wonder part of the federal government’s initial response has been to call the lawyers:

“Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that he is dispatching a team of attorneys from multiple divisions within the Justice Department to New Orleans to meet with the U.S. Attorney and response teams and to monitor the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.”


UPDATE: BP, the Coast Guard, and the MMS have established a unified command to respond to this incident. Work on a relief well may start as soon as Monday but this MMS safety alert suggests the blowout preventer (BOP) may have failed:

“At the time of the accident, the Deepwater Horizon was operating 52 miles from shore in 4,992 feet of water with a subsea BOP stack. After the Deepwater Horizon sank, ROV’s confirmed that the riser was bent over and still attached to the BOP and that oil is flowing from leaks in the riser above the BOP. Numerous attempts to actuate the BOP have failed.”

BP, as lessee, may be legally responsible for the spill but it probably has contracts and indemnity agreements with its subcontractors. If so, additional focus will be on the companies that designed, manufactured, installed, and operated the blowout preventer or any action that may have kept the blowout preventer from operating.

UPDATE 2: But listen to this Mark Levin interview, which suggests the problem may be a pressure issue.

UPDATE 3: BP official blames failed blowout preventer.

11 Responses to “Obama’s Katrina (Updated x3)”

  1. Sorry, personally I’m glad he has stayed out of this. It irks me big time when politicians go to the scene of a disaster that they can do nothing about but get in the way. Bush’s trip to the twin cities to view the bridge collapse via helicopter comes to mind as an easy example of this behavior.
    Now, whether the cleanup effort has been reasonable or not is a separate question. And it may well be that the effort has been entirely reasonable but that conditions just aren’t conducive to more. Stuff happens and all that. Too bad this had to happen at at time when justifying more off shore drilling was gaining some steam, the nimbies are going to be able to use this for the next twenty years.

    Soronel Haetir (27507e)

  2. I’m in favor of effective responses by the responsible parties, and the federal government is clearly a responsible party as owner/lessor of the minerals and administrator of the waters in that region.

    DRJ (d15e92)

  3. Louisiana folks love oil (“Drill baby, drill!”) now they have a taste of it! Oil is a threat to our environment and the sooner we realize it the better! Maybe the spill is God’s way to get us the lesson!

    Triumph (b66fe4)

  4. I’m with DRJ on this one. No mayor or governor on this, just Obama, and he failed the test.

    Too busy criticizing and responding to those who disagree with his policies. The man cannot take criticism… not even a little bit.

    GeneralMalaise (53ce9e)

  5. When will we find out from an IG how many man-hours were spent at MMS web-surfing for porn?

    AD - RtR/OS! (334ea3)

  6. “Oil is a threat to our environment and the sooner we realize it the better!”

    Triumph – Should we go back to heating our homes with wood and using horses and buggies? Are you nuts? Oil has given us tremendous standards of living. The sooner you realize that, the better!

    daleyrocks (1d0d98)

  7. I guess Triumph thinks its a contest to see who can say the silliest thing.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  8. I updated the post.

    DRJ (d15e92)

  9. Those who can, do.
    Those who can’t, cant.

    ras (88eebb)

  10. Interesting Mark Levin interview linked in Update 2.

    DRJ (d15e92)

  11. During the 2008 election cycle, BP-linked donors gave $71,051 to Barack Obama’s senate campaign, more than they gave to any other senator that cycle.

    BO+BP=Destruction of our environment!

    ned (8c252d)

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