Instead of trying to hijack BP’s capital or to use the disaster to advance Cap and Trade, Obama should be trying to stop the leak.
Since the April 20 disaster, I have made separate trips to West Texas and Tulsa. Oil men in both places were full of ideas about how to deal with this crisis. Obama should have put together a commission of technical experts so that the decisions of BP can be critically evaluated. Right now, Obama claims that the U.S. government is in charge of the operation, but it is really at the mercy of BP’s decision making at the well site.
Instead, Obama prematurely created a commission to review the disaster. On Monday, Obama appointed Frances Beinecke, the president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, to the Commission. Beinecke is an activist who opposed deep-water drilling BEFORE the disaster. This Commission has nothing to do with stopping the leak and no doubt will become a platform for Obama’s political allies.
Yesterday, the National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society and the Environmental Defense Fund asked Obama to allocate $5 billion from the $20 billion escrow fund that doesn’t even exist yet for environmental restoration, to be spent presumably with their help.
How would Obama be reacting if the company were Pemex, and not BP? Pemex is Mexico’s government-owned oil company. In 1979 and 1980, Pemex’s Ixtoc I deepwater well spewed oil into the Gulf for almost 10 months. Pemex spent $100 million on clean up but paid no compensation whatsoever, asserting sovereign immunity. Would Obama vilify Mexico and its President, Felix Calderon, who he recently wined and dined in Washington? Would Mexican officials be called on the carpet like BP executives today at the White House? I doubt it.
Like other Obama initiatives like TARP and the auto bailout, this is all about the money, and steering it to his political advantage. This is not leadership. It is politics.