Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What Obama Should NOT Say

 Here's what I don't want to hear from President Obama in his Tuesday night address to the nation on the BP oil spill, the worst accidental environmental disaster in U.S. history.

That is, the government will "leave the Gulf Coast in better shape than it was before."

That's poppycock, Mr. President, in all due respect. I don't believe it. Shrimp and oyster fisherman don't believe it.

Even the U.S. geological experts don't believe it and will prove it after the tropical storms and hurricanes sweep the polluted water inland and the surges will reach and seep into water tables local residents use for drinking water.

Even those who believe the government can do everything -- which it can't -- have no answers how long the oil choking oxygen from plant and sea life and settling on the Gulf floor will endure after killing off the plankton shrimp and oysters need for its very existence.

The Gulf Delta is the cesspool of agricultural soil and chemical runoff eroding down the Mississippi River that man has worsened but the natural force of nature corrects over time.

Add toxic oil coated in chemical dispersants into the equation and the ecological balance is shot to hell for generations for man and untold plant and wildlife species, some possibly for ever.

So, Mr. President, don't tell me the Gulf will return to normal as if you waved some magic wand.

Nor, Mr. President, do I want to hear you say one word that smacks of political overtones or decisions based on such.

Decisions made to mitigate the Gulf disaster should not be based on polls or political calculations.

I'm talking about you seizing the occasion to implore Congress to adopt climate change legislation that includes a tax on carbon. The Atlantic described it better than I could:

The pivot from gushing oil to climate change is at once harder than it seems and blindingly obvious. Oil is polluting the Gulf; it's not raising temperatures.

Nor, Mr. President, do I want to hear BP is the evil empire. We know that. Stop beating a dead horse.

Instead, I do want to hear Tuesday night or Wednesday after the face-to-face with BP brass bigger than Tony Hayward that you used your bully pulpit to force the company to place $20 billion in escrow for interim claims, cleanup and damage liability with the proviso that fund be increased if needed.

BP is unlikely to go broke for it is a money making machine the extent of which can be summarized in this article.

It could create a sticky widget, as the Brits says, if it filed under one of numerous options of Chapter 11 bankruptcy for its North America subsidiary.

No, what I want Obama to explain is how he plans to untangle the bureaucratic red tape in the decision-making process to provide which laughingly is referred to devices that capture the oil spill before most of it reaches into the marshes and estuaries.

As reporters followed Obama during his two-day visit to the Gulf, one filed this anecdote that illustrates the confusion and frustration of local residents:

Watching oil flow through Perdido Pass in Alabama's Gulf Coast, former Navy firefighter Clayton Ard said he wished Obama would break up the unified command responding to the crisis and let local governments handle it with more autonomy.
"It's just a huge bureaucracy that's slowing things down. ... We want to stop the oil now, but we can't do anything," Ard said.



Those who cover the president's every move including the White House political staff are fussing over what a big deal it is that Obama's televised Tuesday address will be delivered from the Oval office. Big frigging deal. Neither myself nor the residents of the Gulf coast gives a damn if he addresses the nation from New Orleans or from riding the back of Shamu at Sea World. We're not seeking perceptions and graphic images of grandeur. The time has come for words reinforced with action.

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