Salazar on Oil Spill: U.S. Must ‘Keep the Boot on the Neck of BP’
May 2, 2010
(ChattahBox)—The Southern Gulf region centered in Louisiana, a haven for commercial and recreational fishing, resplendent with rich oyster beds, as well as shrimp and crab is facing an economic and environmental disaster from the oil spill that will be felt for years, say experts. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, said on Sunday that the massive oil spill leaking from the sunken Deepwater Horizon oil rig “potentially is catastrophic.” And he echoed the tough talk from the White House pledging to hold BP oil accountable for the spill. BP PLC leased the mobile oil rig from Transocean Ltd. and is being criticized for its slow response to the disaster, after the rig exploded and later sunk, spewing out crude oil, killing 11 workers.
During an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, Salazar referred to the oil spill, as “a massive oil spill,” adding “I think we have to prepare for the worst.”
And Salazar took direct aim at BP’s malfeasance in operating defective equipment and being slow to respond to the developing oil slick:
“There is no doubt at all here that what has happened is the blowout prevention mechanism at the bottom of the well … is defective,” Salazar said. “While there have been blowouts in the past, we have never seen anything that has been quite of this magnitude. The Obama administration has ordered inspections of “blowout preventers” on other Gulf rigs, Salazar said. He noted that BP, which operated the destroyed rig, is legally responsible for the spill and any resulting damage. So our job is to keep the boot on the neck of” BP to ensure it meets its obligations, Salazar said.”
BP executives, together with government officials held a series of town meetings in affected communities, to provide information to commercial fishermen and small business owners relying on tourism for their livelihood. But residents are becoming increasingly angry over their loss of income and the potential destruction of their fragile ecosystems and wildlife.
Gov. Bobby Jindal warned that the disaster could destroy the region’s way of life.
“The oil that is leaking offshore, the oil that is coming onto our coast threatens more than just our wildlife, our fisheries, our coast,” Jindal said at a news conference. “This oil literally threatens our way of life.” And he was critical of BP’s response to the environmental disaster, adding “we continue to be concerned with BP’s ability to respond to this incident.”
The Coast Guard estimates about 1.6 million gallons of oil have spilled into the Gulf waters, since the explosion. And efforts to stop the flow of oil could take weeks and even months.
By all accounts, the outlook is grim. Environmentalist Richard Charter of the Defenders of Wildlife organization, said “This event is a self-feeding fire.” “It is so big and expanding so fast that it’s pretty much beyond human response that can be effective. … You’re looking at a long-term poisoning of the area. Ultimately, this will have a multidecade impact,” he said.
The federal government should indeed beep its boot firmly on BP, to ensure the oil company bears the financial costs of the disaster.