Fresh from a trip to the Gulf Coast, President Obama addressed the nation Tuesday regarding the BP oil spill, now referred to as the worst environmental disaster in American history.
The President acknowledged that “for decades we’ve known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered,” and that as a nation, our unwillingness to turn away from oil-based energy directly contributed to the unsafe deepwater practices that caused the disaster in the Gulf.
During his speech, Obama referred to the oil spill crisis not as a natural disaster, which often comes and goes in a matter of hours, but as an “epidemic” that the country will be fighting for years to come.
The President also assured the fisherman, hotel owners, and the thousands of others that depend on the water for their livelihoods, that he is committed the Gulf Coast’s recovery, and that BP will pay in full for the environmental devastation it has caused.
To demonstrate his commitment to long-term restoration in the Gulf, the President announced that he has appointed former Mississippi governor and current Secretary to the Navy, Ray Mabus to oversee a new committee that will be responsible for developing a plan to clean-up and protect the area’s delicate marine ecosystems and wildlife.
But other than stating that this plan would be formulated cooperatively by states, communities, tribes, fishermen, and others, the President made no mention of particular restoration tactics that would be employed, or ecosystems that would be given priority.
While a commitment to restoration is important, a committment to ending offshore drilling once and for all is what’s really needed. Unfortunately, that was one promise the President wasn’t willing to make during Tuesday’s speech.
Instead Obama reiterated his six month moratorium on offshore drilling in deep water. He did not, however, mention the fact that he lifted ban on drilling in the Gulf’s shallow water just weeks ago, allowing oil companies to plan new wells just miles from the Louisiana shoreline.
Obviously, a temporary moratorium isn’t enough to worry the world’s major oil companies, but maybe a complete overhaul of the Minerals Management Service (MMS) will be.
As the government agency responsible for granting drilling permits, the MMS should have been working day and night to make sure that safety and the environmental impact of offshore drilling were thoroughly researched.
Instead, the MMS has become, as the President stated, “emblematic” of a failed philosophy which views all regulation in a hostile light. Under newly appointed head Michael Bromwich, however, Obama hopes that the agency will serve as “the oil industry’s watchdog, not it’s partner.”
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Find full Care2 Coverage of the Spill here.
Image Credit: Flickr - Deepwaterhorizonresponse
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Caleb Critchfield.