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Obama's Oil Spill PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Sunday, 09 May 2010 13:43
Obama's Oil Spill

Margaret Kimberley
President Obama cannot avoid political responsibility for the latest disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, or the future catastrophes that will inevitable flow from his acquiescence to Big Oil. 

Fossil fuels are quite literally killing this planet. The explosion of British Petroleum’s Deep Water Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico killed eleven workers on April 20th, and the resulting oil spill is now killing wildlife and the livelihoods of thousands of people. Every day 5,000 barrels of crude oil, equal to 200,000 gallons, gush into the water and spread like a cancer across the gulf. The first victims will be in Louisiana and the rest of the gulf coast states, but damage will not be confined to that region either. This spill, perhaps worse than the infamous 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, may spread to the east coast of the United States as well.
President Obama made the requisite journey to Louisiana, where he looked serious and gave the impression that his presence would somehow be helpful. In reality, Obama has already announced an end to the moratorium on off-shore oil drilling. Liberals who ordinarily sneer at Sarah Palin and others who cry “Drill baby, drill,” zipped their lips when Obama supported the same dangerous policy.

The response to this particular crisis is typical of the Obama administration. The president has been a one-man disaster wreaking havoc on the world’s environment. At the world climate conference in Copenhagen, Obama went behind the backs of the world community and sabotaged efforts to limit the damage of climate change. The peace prize winner literally bum-rushed a meeting convened by Brazil, China, South Africa and India in order to twist arms and win an agreement which allows world temperatures to climb two degrees.
Two degrees may not seem like much, but temperatures were less than two degrees cooler during the last ice age. That seemingly small difference will mean disaster for humanity. Crop failures, droughts and rising sea levels are already creating life threatening conditions for the poor nations of the world. An African diplomat put it bluntly. The United States and other rich nations asked developing countries "…to sign a suicide pact, an incineration pact, in order to maintain the economic dominance of a few countries."

More oil drilling means higher temperatures and more pollution. Drilling accidents mean more environmental destruction. Instead of solar panels and wind mills Americans get ever worsening calamities. The disaster is usually invisible, but this spill puts the truly destructive nature of oil front and center for all to see.

The depths of the failed American state will be visible too. As if residents of Louisiana and the rest of the gulf hadn’t suffered enough after the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina, they will once again fall victim to a system which long ago chose to completely disregard the needs of its citizens.

The same system that allowed levees to break and let people die in their communities or be pushed out of them, will now be responsible for the thousands whose lives will be upended by this catastrophe. We already know that this country has no infrastructure to assist human beings in times of disasters, whether those calamities be natural or man made.

In his gravitas trip to Louisiana, Obama claimed that “BP is responsible for this leak; BP will be paying the bill.” Not likely. Exxon paid only $500 million of an estimated $2.5 billion cost of clean up after the Exxon Valdez spill which sent 10 billion gallons of oil into the waters of Alaska. It is certain that any courtroom victories for plaintiffs will be appealed in the same way that verdicts against Exxon were successfully appealed over the course of 20 years.

Current federal law caps liability for oil spill damages at $75 million apart from clean up costs. BP is already using weasel words to keep as much of its money as possible, pointing out that TransOcean leased the rig and is therefore more to blame, and confirming only that it "will pay all necessary and appropriate clean-up costs" and "legitimate and objectively verifiable" claims.BP has already been caught red handed, asking clean up volunteers to sign waivers of liability limiting payments to $5,000. Anyone who sends an invoice to British Petroleum will need divine intervention if they ever expect to collect.

The Deep Water Horizon rig existed before Obama became president, but he has pledged to continue this awful business which made this accident possible. He cannot now appear to be the great crusader for the environment when we get an up close and awful preview of what his policies will do to the world. This oil spill doesn’t just belong to TransOcean and British Petroleum. It belongs to Barack Obama too.

Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.com

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