The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been in the news since an explosion on the platform destroyed it on April 20th. At first, no leaks were detected, then 1,000 barrels a day, now the leak is estimated to be at 5,000 barrels a day. Today, ten days after the event started, the oil spill is reaching the coastline of Louisiana. The Obama administration is now finally taking action. But is it already too late? Has the Gulf oil spill become Obama’s Katrina?
Barack Obama was a critic of the Bush Administration’s handling of the Katrina hurricane in it slammed into the Gulf coast. New Orleans was hit hard, as was much of the region from Katrina. Obama and others criticized Bush for not acting faster in responding to the disaster. However, Bush did order National Guard units into the area days before Katrina came ashore. The ferocity of the hurricane delayed their reaching New Orleans as roads were fouled with debris. Two days before Katrina made land-fall, then governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Blanco, rejected Bush’s offer of deploying troops in New Orleans before the hurricane arrived.
Yesterday, Obama did suspend plans for adding to off-shore drilling, announced earlier this month. The Coast Guard, which did aid during the initial explosion and fire on the BP platform, did not establish a ring around where the oil rig collapsed to contain a possible spill, a team of fishing boats deployed a boom ring. But when the oil began to flow, it quickly overcame the precautions in place.
Only today has the White House called the oil spill a ‘National significance’. Current Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal, has been asking for a detailed plan from the Coast Guard and Federal agencies on handling the situation but none has yet been made. Some estimates are that it could take another month to contain the oil spill and three months to drill a relief well to help reduce the oil leak.
Currently, it appears that the only thing the Federal government is doing is preparing to launch an investigation by the Justice Department to determine if any criminal or civil charges should be levied against British Petroleum and others. The White House says they will “aggressively confront” this disaster. Meanwhile, BP’s Deepwater Horizon well continues to spew over 200,000 gallons of crude a day. All the Gulf states, from Texas to Florida, will see oil hitting their shores by as early as this weekend. President Obama did call all five Gulf Coast governors on the telephone today. In the days and weeks to come, the oil spill may become Obama’s Katrina due to the slow response to the disaster.