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AP Calls Obama ‘Aggressive’ In Oil Crises

From the Associated Press:

Obama oil response: aggressive as crisis unfolded

By H. Josef Hebert And Erica Werner, Associated Press Writers Sat May 8

WASHINGTON – It was a two-day trip to the Midwest to talk about jobs and clean energy. President Barack Obama didn’t mention the drama unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico, where oil was gushing from a broken well pipe a mile beneath the sea.

The situation hadn’t become a priority. Soon it would.

On the return to Washington aboard Air Force One, Obama learned the spill had become more worrisome. A third break was discovered at the destroyed well pipe on the ocean floor 40 miles from Louisiana’s precious coastal marshes. Federal scientists believed at least 5,000 barrels of oil a day were being released — five times more than original estimates.

And there was no way to stop the flow.

The Gulf region, ravaged five years earlier by Hurricane Katrina, was on the verge of a second ecological disaster. Would there be a repeat of the bureaucratic bungling that marked President George W. Bush’s response to the hurricane?

While the Obama administration has faced second-guessing about the speed and effectiveness of some of its actions, a narrative pieced together by The Associated Press, based on documents, interviews and public statements, shows little resemblance to Katrina in either the characterization of the threat or the federal government’s response.

On April 20, an explosion engulfed the floating BP oil rig in fire, toppling it into the sea and sending 126 workers fleeing. Eleven never made it and are presumed dead.

Eight days later, from Air Force One, Obama told advisers he wanted an aggressive response to what had suddenly become a more menacing threat to the ecology and economy of the Gulf Coast. The president made no mention of the new developments when he strolled to the back of the plane to chat with the traveling press pool.

The fresh concerns would be outlined by the Coast Guard at a news conference that evening. It was not until the next day — nine days after the explosion and five days after first word the well was spewing oil — that the government would declare it a "spill of national significance."

Critics have asked why the administration did not move more quickly on that declaration, even though the real-world impact is viewed by many as largely symbolic.

This came from Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind.: "The American people deserve to know why the administration was slow to respond, why necessary equipment was not immediately on hand in the area and why the president did not fully deploy Cabinet-level federal officials" to the Gulf Coast until April 30.

The AP review found that the administration — aware of the political scars left on the Bush White House over Katrina — moved early with rescue efforts. Also, the government knew within days that while no leak had been found, the potential for environmental harm existed.

From day to day, as the situation evolved from devastating fire and dramatic rescue to a possible environmental hazard, the response activities changed, too, according to documents and interviews.

___

Word reached Washington at 10:30 on the night of Tuesday, April 20, that the floating drilling rig Deepwater Horizon was on fire. Its workers scrambled to be rescued. The Coast Guard sent a pair of ships and four helicopters.

For a time, it was a rescue operation, and nothing more. The president was alerted because of the potential for great loss of life.

Before noon the next day at the Interior Department, which oversees offshore drilling projects, the department’s No. 2 official, Deputy Secretary David Hayes, raced to grab a commercial jet for New Orleans without even time to pack a bag. He sets up shop at a government command center already monitoring events.

"We obviously knew this was a bad situation," Hayes said in a recent interview. "But we were not in a mindset where we thought we were dealing with a major oil spill."

Underwater surveillance showed no active leak from the wellhead. Oil on the water surface was determined to be residual from the pipe and the burned out rig, now floating precariously.

Hayes and other officials were confident the blowout preventer would keep any spill to a minimum. But it failed catastrophically, allowing 3 million gallons of oil into the Gulf so far.

Asked why he flew to Louisiana so soon after the explosion, Hayes said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was concerned about potential deaths of 11 workers, especially so soon after the April 5 mine collapse in West Virginia that killed 29 workers.

Two days after the fire erupted, Obama convened an Oval Office meeting to get the latest on what still was viewed largely as a major accident and rescue effort — 11 workers could not be found.

He asked departments to respond aggressively to help in the rescue and assess the environmental fallout. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs in a statement called the response "the No. 1 priority."

A team representing 16 agencies and offices that included the Pentagon, the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Interior and Homeland Security was formed. As a precaution, 100,000 gallons of chemicals to break up oil on the waster was sent to three Gulf Coast locations.

By Friday, the rig toppled to the sea floor. Efforts to rescue the 11 missing workers ended. BP, which leased the rig for exploratory drilling, insisted that based on remote monitoring, there was no leak from the well pipe. Officials believed they may have dodged a bullet.

But that changed abruptly the following day when Rear Adm. Mary Landry, commander of the Coast Guard’s Gulf region, called Hayes, back in Washington, with some bad news. "We found a leak," she told him.

A new centralized command was set up in Robert, La. While the possibility of a major spill never was dismissed, it now became a much greater worry.

Obama had yet to speak publicly about the issue.

For Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, later named as overall head of the response effort, the tipping point from rescue to potentially major environmental crisis came Thursday, April 22. That’s when the rig, with 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel, sank to the sea bottom, raising the potential for more damage to the pipe and a worse release of oil.

"At that point we knew this could go very, very bad. We were moving into a much more vulnerable potentially catastrophic situation," he said in a recent interview.

___

Come Saturday, April 24, with the spill estimated at 1,000 barrels a day, containment efforts were stepped up. The number of vessels sent to the scene tripled to 30 and more chemicals were dumped on the growing oil slick.

By Tuesday, April 27, 20 more vessels had been added to skim oil and help out. In Washington, BP’s chief executive, Tony Hayward, and other company officials were asked to the White House to describe their latest efforts to plug the leak and their plans to mitigate the spill’s impact. Officials were told a relief well to stop the oil could take three months to drill.

Obama was briefed, although he did not meet with the oil company executives.

At the same time, an internal report at Homeland Security brought more ominous news. It concluded that marine ecology along the Gulf "may be significantly more impacted than originally estimated" by the volume of oil now believed being released with a high risk of environmental contamination in the Gulf.

The next day Interior Secretary Ken Salazar flew to the BP command center in Houston to review BP’s plans to deal with the leak and response efforts.

The news got worse on Wednesday, April 28.

In Washington, senior advisers and department officials were holding their daily meeting in the White House Situation Room when word came in from the Gulf of a third leak found in the submerged pipeline. Separately, government scientists monitoring by air the oil plume already on the water concluded BP’s estimate of release was far too low and revised the estimate to 5,000 barrels a day instead of 1,000.

That’s when the call was made to Air Force One.

On Thursday, the administration’s team participated in a news conference at the White House, followed by Obama in an appearance in the Rose Garden, where he commented publicly for the first time on what he characterized as "the worsening oil spill."

The next day, Friday, April 30, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Salazar and other administration officials flew to the Gulf Coast. The Pentagon made available two C-130 aircraft to drop chemicals on the oil. A quarter-million feet of boom was on site, but in the coming days it grew to 1 million feet, and the number of vessels increased from 75 to 200.

Into the weekend, the weather turned rainy and the wind picked up, bringing the forward fingers of the oil slick within 9 miles Louisiana’s eastern wetlands.

On the rainy wind-swept Sunday, 12 days after the $350 million Deepwater Horizon was consumed by flames, Obama flew to the Gulf to get a firsthand look. He took a helicopter flight over the ecologically precious wetlands that may be tarnished by the oil.

As Air Force One returned to Washington, press secretary Gibbs got the question he knew was coming.

Was the president mindful of some people wanting to make comparisons to the Bush administration’s Katrina response?

Other than geography, Gibbs insists there is no connection: "We’ve done everything that we could."

We are reposting the entire article without comment.

You can draw your own conclusion as to whether the Associated Press is a new organization or a shameless propaganda arm of the Democrat Party.

(Thanks to Franco for the heads up.)

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Saturday, May 8th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

12 Responses to “AP Calls Obama ‘Aggressive’ In Oil Crises”

  1. Rusty Shackleford

    “WASHINGTON – It was a two-day trip to the Midwest to talk about jobs and clean energy. President Barack Obama didn’t mention the drama unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico, where oil was gushing from a broken well pipe a mile beneath the sea.

    The situation hadn’t become a priority.”

    But soon it would be? Excuse me?

    I do believe it did become a priority but not from a protect the people, the fisheries, or even the environment perspective.

    It became a priority on how the boy who sits in the president’s chair could make himself come out on top. How the bad, evil Halliburton supplied the concrete at the head of the well, how it was Bush’s fault (for the 3,576th time) and on and on and on.

    Clearly, there’s nothing he won’t TALK about. Actions are the tellnig things though and he truly does believe that telling the American people a thing is the same as making it so.

    He may be cunning, crafty and a Marxist but he’s also downright naive on the most basic of levels be-cause ladies and gentlemen, he has been coddled his entire life and cannot fathom anyone who doesn’t believe a word he says. To him, such a thing is impossible.

    It will be his downfall and when we win in November, he will find himself hamstrung, hogtied, lame and silenced. But watch out for the REAL angry mobs to appear then. Whenever congress stops him from more stupidity, the riots and the mobs will act in earnest. They will torch anything and anyone who stands in this child’s way.

    We haven’t heard the real screaming from the left yet for they are still partly getting their way and satisfying that inner child. But when mom and dad come back and tell them “no” the ensuing tantrum will be astronomical.

    Aggressive on oil crises. PHAGH!

  2. U NO HOO

    I wonder if Obama sent letters of condolence to the victims’ families or words of “I told you so” for drilling off shore in pristine waters.

  3. proreason

    T o t a l d i s c o n n e c t f r o m r e a l i t y.

  4. canary

    Interior Secretary Salazar’s chief of staff took families & spouses rafting trip “after” oil ship explosion as spill became worse.
    &
    Director of National counterterrorism took snow-ski trip after Christmas Eve airplane bomb attempt, while Obama filmed documentary of mother on Hawaii vacation.

    FOXNews.com Interior Secretary’s Chief of Staff on Grand Canyon Trip During Oil Spill
    May 6 2010

    The interior secretary’s chief of staff went on a trip to the Grand Canyon last week as the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico worsened, marking the second time in recent months that a top-level official has taken off in the middle of a major security incident.

    Tom Strickland, who serves as chief of staff to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, had to cut his trip short as the administration upped its response to the spill. A Park Service helicopter was used to airlift him out of the canyon and bring him directly to the Gulf.

    ABC News first reported that Strickland was on the trip with his wife and that it included a white-water rafting excursion.

    But Interior Department spokeswoman Julie Rodriguez said…

    “As part of his official duties as assistant secretary, he participated in an official trip to the Grand Canyon to investigate issues related to that park’s management,” she said in a written statement.

    She said the review covered everything from beach erosion to safety to wilderness management and that Strickland was accompanied by National Park Service staff members. She noted that spouses on the trip “covered their own personal expenses.” ….

    It comes after Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, took heat for going on a ski trip after the attempted bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit on Christmas Day.

    “He’s a part of the response,” Karl Rove, former Bush White House adviser and a Fox News analyst, said Thursday of Strickland….

    http://www.foxnews.com/politic.....oil-spill/

  5. canary

    ABC News: While Oil Slick Spread, Interior Department Chief of Staff Rafted with Wife on “Work-Focused” Trip in Grand Canyon
    by Jack Tapper May 05, 2010

    Though his agency was charged with coordinating the federal response to the major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Department of the Interior chief of staff Tom Strickland was in the Grand Canyon with his wife last week participating in activities that included white-water rafting, ABC News has learned.

    Beth Strickland paid her own way, Obama administration officials said.

    One government official, asking for anonymity because of the political sensitivities involved, told ABC News that some Interior Department employees thought it was “irresponsible” for Strickland to have gone on the trip, given the crisis in the Gulf, which was fully apparent at the time he departed for the Grand Canyon.

    …and they discussed matters such as river flows, beach erosion, humpback chub, tamarisk control, overflights, safety, motor boats, and wilderness management.

    On January 22, 2009, Salazar said that at the department he and Strickland – as a former US Attorney and a former Attorney General, respectively –
    “will hold people accountable. We will expect to be held accountable.”

    http://blogs.abcnews.com/polit.....nyon-.html

    Who will be held accountable for the lack of mandatory EPA inspections not performed on the ship.

    I wonder if the undried super glue let off combustable fume bubbles. Small leaks crumbled to major leaks.

  6. Petronius

    This appears to be inside White House information that has been abstracted from the Situation Room logs and spoonfed to the AP reporters.

    No way AP reporters came up with this sort of detail on their own –– precise locations of regime insiders at certain hours of the day, their travel arrangements, who was briefed and when, who they were in contact with at certain times, and what they said to each other, points of contact, formation of work teams, etc.

    That is precisely the kind of detail that is found in the logs in the White House Situation Room.

    • TwilightZoned

      Good call, Petronius. I totally agree and would add they (WH) are masters of propaganda pulling the strings of their puppets-the MSM.

      “The AP review found that the administration…moved early with rescue efforts.”

      Are you kidding me?! People actually believe this BS?

    • bill

      Read carefully … Obama-speak, the fusion of sophistry and Newspeak.

      The statement is technically correct, the US Coast Guard was part of the rescue efforts.

    • TwilightZoned

      “Read carefully … Obama-speak, the fusion of sophistry and Newspeak.”

      Spot on Bill, spot on!!!

  7. bill

    AP bin talked to … now bin lying like the rest.

    So where are the firebooms, sir? You know, the ones spelled out in your 1994 oil containment plan. If your big, fat, flabby, useless do nothing government had some on hand the oil may never have made it to shore ….

    Obama-speak, the fusion of sophistry and Newspeak.

  8. canary

    Let’s not criticize Obama for playing golf after oil spill. OJ Simpson and Scott Peterson both had no problem playing golf after murdering & chopping up their wives.

  9. AcornsRNutz

    And of course, this is moments away from being spun as just the inherit dangers of offshore drilling, which will get the population all upset, and of course they will then fully support the increase in drilling regulations and decrease in what little drilling is going on now. This stuff is getting so routine its not even an aha moment when they do it anymore. I no longer gloat about predicting the regime’s next move, nor the media’s. God help us all.




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