Dwarfing previous estimates, crude oil from the Deepwater Horizon leak is now escaping into the Gulf of Mexico at an estimated 1.2 million gallons a day – equivalent to the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska happening every 8 to 10 days.
A recent Quinnipiac poll found that only 37 percent of Floridians approve of President Barack Obama’s handling of the spill, and an estimated 71 percent feel his actions toward BP have not been “tough enough,” according to a UaSA Today/Gallup poll.
When considering the limited capabilities of one man and the ticking time bomb of deepwater drilling in the gulf that he inherited, the negativity toward Obama is unwarranted.
Shortly after visiting the Florida panhandle to reassure tourists of the beach’s safety, Obama spoke Tuesday from the Oval Office for the first time, a location traditionally reserved for serious national addresses.
He called for a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan, which would be designed by scientists and industry leaders affected by the spill, as well as state and local officials.
He also called for tighter restrictions on the oil industry’s regulation – which is desperately needed after a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing Tuesday found that the entire industry is unprepared for another similar spill – while pressing for bipartisan changes in energy policy to end the nation’s fossil fuel dependency.
Most importantly, he met with BP officials Wednesday and organized a $20 billion account, paid for by BP, to work toward compensation for those affected – including a $10 million grant for USF’s research efforts in the gulf.
Opportunistic Republicans predictably portrayed the president’s response in a negative light.
“Manipulating this tragic national crisis for selfish political gain not only demonstrates President Obama’s inability to aptly lead our nation out of a disaster, but also reveals the appallingly arrogant political calculus of this White House,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.
Some in the GOP even referred to potential energy legislation as a “job killing tax.”
Beyond politics, many are upset because the spill is not being contained fast enough and are disillusioned and panicked by the inability to control a situation of man’s own making.
For more than 70 years, the gulf has been home to oil platforms. Faith in science kept fears of monumental spills out of the heads of many – until now.
Faith in science led passengers of the Titanic to board a ship without enough lifeboats, it leads air travelers to fly without parachutes and now, it has led to the largest oil spill ever in the gulf.
Surely, the president cannot be blamed because 30,000 workers, 17,000 National Guardsmen and the most innovative and advanced technological breakthroughs of our day cannot stop the chaos created by generations of collective indifference toward the risks associated with gulf drilling.