Thursday, May 27, 2010

Do What?

The meme du jour on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is to go on TV and rant and rave about what the Obama administration is or isn’t doing to stop it. But as TPM Reader ML, who knows a great deal about drilling technology, points out, what exactly is the President supposed to do?

Everybody seems to be calling for more fire in his belly and scary, threatening speeches. What does that accomplish? It’s like people want him to do a dramatic speech like post-9/11 about bringing the criminals to justice. It does nothing to actually plug the damn well. The government does not have the expertise to do more to stop this gusher. It’s in BPs interest to stop the gusher. All the conspiracy theories about wanting to preserve the well for future production are technically wrong and ignore that NOBODY in the industry benefits from this gusher continuing. BP wants what everybody else wants, though I’ll concede that I suspect dispersants are about killing life where it’s less easily photographed. Dispersants aside, the only conflict of interest is regarding the causes of the blowout, not the capping of the well. Fed investigations are already taking care of that part.

On the pace, I’m pissed because I thought top kill should have been the first thing they tried after the ROVs failed to close the BOP. The reason for delay was partly because it looked like a war zone down there initially due to all the debris from a mile long riser coming down with the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon. So there was cleanup to make everything accessible. Also, one issue with the top kill is that it does have some risk of making the leak worse by eroding whatever blockages exist to limit the blowout rate. It could also overpressure the wellhead to open up new leaks upstream of the current ones. My guess is they wanted a better understanding on the chance of success before taking those risks.

Steven Weber has a passionate and powerful post over at Bob Cesca’s place.

Make the loudmouths on the right and the traitors on the left—-the Fox News flunkies and the AM radio thugs—clean flapping, writhing birds and bag diseased fish and then sit there while the fishermen and their families tell them their stories, show them pictures of how it used to be before the drunken, sloppy surgeons nicked the main artery and exposed their practice for what it always was.

So, no, I do not blame Obama. I see him hampered by the bureaucracy, hobbled by the web of backroom deals and under-the-table favors that has defined governance.