Senate Report Criticizes Administration for Flawed Federal Response to Oil Spill
Kristin Gilbart /
A new report from the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee details startling facts about the Obama administration’s failed leadership in response to the Gulf oil spill, the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), ranking member on the Environment and Public Works Committee, released a report aptly named, “Failure of Leadership: President Obama and the Flawed Federal Response to the BP Disaster.”
Inhofe’s report details the many ways in which “…administration officials failed in several instances to remove regulatory and bureaucratic impediments and to ensure that proper and adequate resources were brought to bear in addressing the BP disaster.”
The report lays out four specified areas in which the president’s failures are most evident.
- Assistance: As the Macondo well leaked a total of 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf, the White House failed to react quickly or urgently. In his first public address, Obama assured the nation, “I’m not going to rest … or be satisfied until the leak is stopped at the source, the oil in on the Gulf is contained and cleaned up, and the people of this region are able to go back to their lives and their livelihoods.” Despite Obama’s apparent sincerity, his actions spoke louder than words. Instead of using his executive power to cut through bureaucratic red tape and thrust ideas into results, he established a partisan commission to investigate the cause of the spill.
- Skimmers: After the explosion, there were 2,000 available skimmers in the United States. Specifically, there were 850 in the Gulf coast, Texas and Florida, yet only 108 were in use. When Sen. George Lemieux (R-FL) asked where the other 742 skimmers were, he was told a range of answers from, “some are obligated to be in other places in case there is an oil spill” to “they are legally constrained.” Obama also refused to waive the Jones Act, easing the way for foreign vessels to help.
- Dispersants: The EPA’s management of dispersants was “unfocused, and its communications about their safety and effectiveness was contradictory — all of which created confusion about their use.” While dispersants were finally used in order to prevent oil from reaching the shores, the federal government wrestled to assist BP with use of the dispersants in the early stages of the spill.
- Workplace rules: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) prevented legal and operational flexibility that was needed for quick and efficient response efforts. For example, OSHA mandated short, 20-minute clean-up shifts for workers, and required an extensive 40-hour training course for potential supervisors. Other ridiculous constraints can be found in OSHA’s “Heat Stress Management Plan,” all of which were strongly opposed by local officials and workers alike.
In a video Inhofe released in conjunction with the report, he concludes, “Sadly, the reality in Washington is that the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress were more anxious to exploit the disaster in an attempt to pass their liberal agenda than to respond to the Gulf tragedy.”
The proof is in the pudding. Obama and his administration failed to take the necessary steps to react quickly, efficiently and thoroughly and instead added to the complications of the spill by failing to act, keeping unnecessary regulations in place and instead formulating how the spill could behoove their liberal environmental agenda.
Kristin Gilbart is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.