Wednesday, June 16, 2010


The merciful thing about President Obama's Oval Office speech Tuesday was short. It was filled with the usual platitudes but sadly, minus any meaningful plan. So America's Riviera will continue to be despoiled by oil.
That oil should never have reached the fragile Louisiana marshes. And never the pristine beaches that wrap America's southeastern border in a sandy ribbon.
Obama could have accepted the help extended immediately after the oil rig explosion by England, Holland, Norway and other European countries to send large ships equipped to suck up the thick sludge formed by the oil gushing from 5000 feet below the Gulf, 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana.
Even last night - 57 days into the worst environmental crisis in this nation's history - Obama stood by his union supporters and refused to waive the 1920 Jones Act which bans any ship not made in America, with an American crew on board, from performing such duties as keeping oil from reaching American shores.
Since America now accounts for only one percent of the world's shipbuilding, it is unlikely there would be enough American-made ships available for such duty.
And the oil continues to gush from the deep.
Evoking his familiar stern demeanor, Obama demanded BP put billions in a fund to pay for damage to the Gulf Coast and the people who make their livelihood from its natural beauty and bounty. The President even demands BP pay oil workers idled by his ill advised moratorium on deep water drilling that has idled 40-plus rigs in the Gulf.
What! I would like to see how a fair minded judge rules on that one.
And there is another problem with your escrow plan Mr. President. BP may be having money troubles. It reportedly is seeking a several billion dollar line of credit from European banks. Yes, it was a highly profitable oil company. But the crisis in the Gulf and Obama's constant vilifying of the oil company has sent its stock tumbling by more than half. A better strategy might be to work with BP and help maintain its financial viability. Keeping vitriolic pressure on BP could force it to seek bankruptcy protection. Then who pays, Mr. President. And what about the 12,000 BP service stations in America; and the 31,000-plus employees in America.
Under American law, BP is legally responsible for only 75,000,000 in damages. BP has publicly promised to pay for the damages to the Gulf Coast and in the words of its CEO, "make things right."
If BP gets its back up because of Obama's rails and threats, it could force the matter into the courts and that could leave the people of the Gulf Coast hanging financially for years.
What should Obama have done?
Waive the Jones Act and get those European skimmers over here immediately to keep more oil from reaching coastlines.
Lift the moratorium on deep water off-shore drilling. Put oil workers back to work and the businesses on shore that supply those 40-plus rigs back in business. Send federal inspectors to each rig to assess any safety or environmental issues and fix problems immediately - but keep the oil pumping and workers working.
Scrap Cap and Trade. It is a scam. Instead, take a hard look at a proposal from Senator's Lieberman and Kerry that would make natural gas the fuel of choice to power our vehicles and power plants. It is abundant and easier to find. And is often burned off at oil well drill sites. Capture that natural gas and it could replace the oil.
Open Anwar to oil and natural gas drilling now. Some engineers have said oil could be flowing to the lower 48 within six months to a year. Thousands of American workers would be back on payrolls and many of those workers would carry union cards, Mr. President. And both the Alaskan and Federal governments would reap windfall taxes from the oil flowing out of Anwar. Of course, that would go against the environmental lobby. And that would require political courage from a President who has so far been devoid of any such courage.
Instead of appointing another expensive and useless commission to look into the Gulf Coast crisis, bring the best engineering and inventive minds in America together to formulate an energy plan that would once and for all free this nation from its dependence on imported oil. President Kennedy took that route in the space race in the 1960's and in less than a decade we overtook the Soviet Union and landed a man on the moon.
Left to their own resources, with financial help from BP and the federal government, the people of the Gulf Coast and their governors will solve their own problems. They've already shown their fellow Americans what they can do in the face of this disaster.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal called for the federal government and its cumbersome bureaucracy to "get out of the way" early on in the crisis. Why do I think things on day 58 would be much better had those in the White House listened to Jindal.

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