President Has Another "Skip Gates Moment", Declares BP Will Pay All Costs Of Spill

President Obama found time in his schedule (after the White House Correspondent’s Dinner last night) to fly over an oil spill caused by the catastrophic failure of the Deep Water Horizon rig owned by Swiss based Transocean Ltd and leased by oil giant British Petroleum. Speaking to reporters after the tour Obama declared:

The president vowed that the administration, while doing all it could to mitigate the environmental and economic disaster, would require well-owner BP America to bear all costs.

“BP is responsible for this leak. BP will be paying the bill,” Obama, with rain dripping from his face, said in Venice, a Gulf Coast community serving as a staging area for the response.

In a reminder of his “Cambridge Police acting stupidly” moment last year, the President is once again acting like the Red Queen: “sentence first, verdict later”. How does he know BP is solely responsible? Why is he poisoning a potential jury pool when the facts of the accident are not known? Here is a more responsible analysis that gives another side to a matter that will undoubtedly be litigated for years:

BP America Inc. Chairman Lamar McKay, appearing on ABC’s “This Week” program, said fail-safe mechanisms on the rig that were designed to prevent an oil spill had not worked as predicted and that a “failed piece of equipment” was to blame for the spill, according to the New York Times and other media outlets.

BP spokesman Bill Salvin said McKay was talking about the blowout preventer as the failed equipment that caused the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, which killed 11 people. The blowout preventer typically activates after a blast or other event to cut off any oil that may spill.

The cause of the blast remains undetermined, and Salvin said, “We’re not ruling anything out.” The leak began on April 20 after a device on the BP rig exploded.

The rig, Deepwater Horizon, was owned by Transocean Ltd. and leased by U.K.-based BP PLC to drill the test well.

I suspect the Obama administration is lining up BP for the public firing squad because they know a villain must identified, and quick, or people might start asking questions about the administration’s slow response to this disaster. Doug Ross is asking why the pre approved emergency plans to deal with a catastrophic event such as this were not implemented.

On April 29th, Ron Gouget, who once managed Gulf spill response teams, publicly pilloried the administration’s response to the tragic oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. Gouget is an expert when it comes to these matters: he helped create the 1994 plan that allowed expedited burning of oil as soon as a major spill had occurred — without having to wait for permission or approvals.

…”They had pre-approval. The whole reason the plan was created was so we could pull the trigger right away instead of waiting ten days to get permission,” Gouget said. “If you read the pre-approval plan, it speaks about Grand Isle, where the spill is. When the wind is blowing offshore out of the north, you have preapproval to burn in that region. If the wind is coming onshore, like it is now, you can’t burn at Grand Isle. They waited to do the test burn until the wind started coming onshore.”

Asked why officials waited for a week before conducting even a test burn, Gouget said, “Good question. Maybe complacency was the biggest issue. They probably didn’t have the materials on hand to conduct the burn, which is unconscionable.”

He said the NOAA officials involved at the Unified Command Center in Louisiana know how to respond to spills, and know burning should have started as soon as possible after the initial release was detected. Gouget said they may have been overruled… “This whole thing has been a daily strip tease. At first they thought it was just the diesel, then they said the well wasn’t leaking. It’s unfortunate they didn’t get the burning going right away. They could have gotten 90 percent of the oil before it spread.”

I think the media would be all over this angle but for two missing words which drain the story of the motive they require: Cheney and Halliburton. Meanwhile, President Obama, being the brilliant constitutional law professor that he imagines he is, says the bill is already on the way to BP. There are several hundred maritime law experts in Houston and New Orleans that beg to differ with this hasty judgment and perhaps will use the President’s words to establish prejudice against their clients.

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