Obama's Speech on the Oil Spill: What Do You Think of His "Battle Plan"?

By Joseph Calamia | June 16, 2010 11:15 am

Last night, President Obama made his first Oval Office speech. In it, he described the BP oil spill as an assault on “our shores and our citizens” and outlined his “battle plan.” He discussed the immediate cleanup of the spill, the repayment he’ll insist on from BP for harm done, and the future of U.S. energy.

Katie Couric compared Obama’s speech to others issued from the Oval Office.

“The disaster in the Gulf may or may not be President Obama’s Katrina, but, tonight, it will be his Challenger explosion, his Cuban missile crisis, his Sept. 11. Unlike those events, this is a long simmering disaster, getting darker by the day.” [CBS]

Here are some of the major points covered in the speech:

Immediate Clean-up

Obama started by discussing BP’s current efforts to stop the leak and assuring the public that the company’s work will soon pay off. Obama wasn’t specific on how the company will finally stop the oil flow, but only said that the company will use “additional equipment and technology.”

“In the coming weeks and days, these efforts should capture up to 90 percent of the oil leaking out of the well. This is until the company finishes drilling a relief well later in the summer that’s expected to stop the leak completely.”

How BP Will Repay Victims

Though he didn’t specify an amount, the president also wants to put aside BP funds (The New York Times reports that Senate Democrats have called for $20 billion) in an account managed by a “third party” to fairly distribute to victims. BP has confirmed a meeting with the president at the White House today, in which this escrow account will be discussed. Said Obama:

“I will meet with the chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company’s recklessness. And this fund will not be controlled by BP. In order to ensure that all legitimate claims are paid out in a fair and timely manner, the account must and will be administered by an independent third party.”

Relationship Between Companies and Watchdogs

He spoke of earlier efforts to clean up corrupt relationships between big companies, like BP, and the agency meant to monitor them–the Minerals Management Service (MMS) within the Department of the Interior. Obama said his administration began cleaning out the MMS when he took office:

“But it’s now clear that the problem there ran much deeper, and the pace of reform was just too slow. And so Secretary [Ken] Salazar and I are bringing in new leadership at the agency — Michael Bromwich, who was a tough federal prosecutor and Inspector General. And his charge over the next few months is to build an organization that acts as the oil industry’s watchdog — not its partner.”

A Green Energy Future?

He also spoke of a need to adopt greener energy sources and described our slow transition to these energy sources compared to China, for example.

“We cannot consign our children to this future. The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now. Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash America’s innovation and seize control of our own destiny.”

Some have criticized Obama for not being more specific; others hope that his speech will incite change after the clean-up.

Still, some polls suggest a national willingness to make economic sacrifices for the sake of kicking the oil addiction. And the first step need not be too expensive. A new study from the Environmental Protection Agency shows that one proposed energy bill, which includes a carbon emission trading scheme, would cost the average American household only about $100 a year. [Reuters]

DISCOVER wants to know what you think. Please comment below.

Recent posts on the BP oil spill:
80beats: Should We Just Euthanize the Gulf’s Oil-Soaked Birds?
80beats: “Top Cap” Installed on BP Oil Leak; Effectiveness Remains to Be Seen
80beats: This Hurricane Season Looks Rough, And What If One Hits the Oil Spill?
80beats: We Did the Math: BP Oil Spill Is Now Worse Than the Exxon Valdez
80beats: Oil Spill Update: BP to Switch Dispersants; Will Kevin Costner Save Us All?

  • Lawrence Baker

    What is outrageous are the Lies, Secrets and Cover-Up coming from BP and our failed, subservient government in response to this National disaster.

    Science, technology and regulation has been neutered, gagged and is but a myth.

    The in-house world criminals of Big Oil and World Banksters are in charge with the controlled mass media; Truth is powerless against them.

    World chaos, control and profit are their game and only revolution will set things right again. Nationalize Big Oil, World Bankers, and World Insurance for the public good and bring the criminals to justice!

  • JJ

    Nationalizing? That’s an absolutely terrible idea.

    First, the mainstream media primarily favors those on the left and left-wing politicians have done nothing but criticize “Big Oil” and “lack of regulation”, blaming Bush (he’s been out of office nearly 2 years now) yet again for not imposing strict regulations…blah blah. Fact is, there’s plenty of regulations and BP was undoubtedly negligent in adhering to general safety standards, much evidence points to that conclusion. Oil spills of this magnitude also do not happen on a regular basis, this is only the 3rd major spill in over 30 years. Wouldn’t you think regulations have only gotten more strict over the last 30 years? You bet they have, it’s one of the most regulated industries in the US. Does the government rush to impose more regulations on the airline industry when a plane crashes? Nope, because it’s usually the pilot’s fault or a result of mechanical failure. The BP mess is the result of the bosses on that rig (possibly execs as well) and mechanical failure of the blowout preventer (possibly resulting from negligence of rig managers).

    Same for the banking industry, mainly just the derivatives trading markets (which caused the crisis), thanks to irresponsible lending institutions and the government’s role (starting under Clinton) in pushing for loans to individuals that wanted homes they simply could not afford. The vast majority of business people are not criminals, however the media likes to portray them that way. Most execs worked hard to get to that level and continue to work hard to maintain that success. Nobody is more corrupt and inept at running the simplest of tasks than top politicians.

  • AlexB

    It’s disgusting that you would try to blame what happened on the people who were employed on that oil rig, especially when BP knowingly violated safety codes. The fact is that companies don’t care about the environment or employee safety. They have one concern: profits. As far as I’m concerned, BP is responsible for the murder of those oil rig workers.

    You paint CEOs as hard working when they don’t earn even 1/100 of their salary. What has Hayward done recently besides spew garbage and lies to make his company look better? Have you even heard of him before this catastrophe?

    We can pile on all the regulations we want, but they’re useless because big oil laughs at our lawmakers. Thats why Obama’s words are just that- words. It’s empty rhetoric. Nothing will change because these companies don’t want it to.

    The reality is that the vast majority of business people ARE criminal scum. The fact that you would state otherwise is a testament to how well they have convinced you of their usefulness. Like a parasite convincing its host that their parasitism is benefitting them both. A perfect example of Stockholm syndrome.

    The only remedy in my book is to expropriate BP’s assets.

  • JJ

    Oil rigs are managed by so-called bosses. The boss runs the rig and is responsible for overseeing all operations, including the safety of the workers. Those bosses worked on that rig as well, do you honestly think they would intentionally put themselves in danger? Do you think BP would want to conduct risky operations and be involved in the current situation? BP knew damn well what would happen if they were negligent and I highly doubt they would purposely tell their rig bosses to ignore safety measures.

    “You paint CEOs as hard working when they don’t earn even 1/100 of their salary.”

    I bet you couldn’t manage a company of BP’s caliber. Do you know what it takes to run a company? It takes a certain type of person to handle the amount of pressure and responsibility in leading such a company. Your ignorance is clear, execs don’t spend the majority of their lives on yachts or exotic beaches. Their schedules are often micromanaged, similar to the President, and includes lots of travel, meetings with high ranking officials, business partners, lawyers, etc. You cannot put a price on hard work. Who are you to tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t be making?

    “The reality is that the vast majority of business people ARE criminal scum.”

    I would like you to present evidence to back up that claim. You’d be hard pressed to find criminal records of corporate execs. If you consider making lots of money equatable to criminal, then the overwhelming majority of our politicians are criminals are well (although most of their “exchanges” are just a form of “legalized” bribery passed under the cloak of “campaign donations”, happens everyday). Besides, the market is self regulating. Due to this mess, BP is in danger of going under. They’ve already lost about 40 billion in market share. That’s what happens when you’re not responsible, you reap the consequences (Karma if you will). Why would I hear of this guy before this? You must know all of the major corporate execs…They run businesses, they’re not celebrities.

    Think about where you would be without corporate execs for a second. You’d probably be living on a farm, in a house you built, eating food you grew or slaughtered yourself, without indoor plumbing. You wouldn’t have a job either because those “scum” employ the majority of the country. Just about all the material things in your possession were a result of a corporate entity, all headed by those “criminal scum”. Capitalism functions on benefiting both parties. They didn’t get rich from stealing money, people bought their products! You and I are the very reason they’re so successful!… I bet you love your computer, cell phone, and your iPod. If they’re all so evil, you might as well give it all back. Organize a boycott of purchasing goods and put all those companies out of business.

    It’s people like you that don’t appreciate where this country (assuming you’re from the US) came from. The discovery of steel, the railroad, oil…all of those contributed to our country’s wealth, all a result of a few guys that took financial risks on businesses that proved to be great successes.

  • Desotojohn

    I was really happy when Obama announced he had a plan to clean up the carnage from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

    I expected it to read like;

    – Obama accepts aid from Canada, Mexico, Britain, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and the U.N.

    – US Navy ordered to help in the cleanup by moving 10 supertankers to the scene to collect surface oil

    – US Navy upped the ante by providing 500 oil carrying barges, skimmers and 10,000 military personnel

    – Obama orders 5,000 oil/water separating centrifuges from Kevin Kostner.

    – Obama invites all deep water engineering companies to a 5 day conference to discuss the problem and potential fixes.

    – Obama requests aid from Woods Hole and Scripps to develop methods to track and clean up underwater oil plumes.

    – Obama requests hair clippings from beauty parlors and barbers, will drop on slick from C-17s.

    – Obama orders nations unemployed to gulf states to help in cleanup, reducing unemployment to zero.

    Unfortunately none of that happened. I guess I’m not so happy after all.

  • m

    JJ makes a good point.

    Somewhere I read that Obama was rambling about this incident reducing the US reliance on foreign oil.

    Didnt BP say this particular oil was part of their contract with China?

    So – how are the two related?

    Obama is a weak president … he has a lot of passion…but it is unfocused and without direction. He has lofty goals, but he lacks leadership to get down to the “nuts and bolts” of his ambitions.

    You can’t run a country based entirely on polls.

    Kicking the oil addiction is as simple as stop using plastic water bottles.

  • JJ

    I agree with both of you on Obama’s failed leadership. He’s all talk and no action. I’d like to see him use every available resource to clean up this mess, but that’s what happens when we elect a guy with no real executive experience. It literally took large public backlash to get him to fly down to the Gulf and address the problem first hand, that’s not leadership, that’s just good politics. He just met with the CEO of BP yesterday, 57 days after the spill. He’s now also using this crisis as an excuse to push for cap and trade (never let a good crisis go to waste?), that’s not going to clean up the oil. A good leader is proactive, not reactive, and knows how to put politics aside to solve a major problem.

  • Josh

    I’m angry at BP but furious at Obama. This crisis would have been much milder if he had displayed even a hint of leadership. Even though it sounds crazy, I honestly wonder if has purposly failed to push the cleanup process in order to support his energy bill.

  • cgray

    Obongo prefers to play golf. He knows 90 percent of the media will cover for him. This broken record will continue to be played until America is literally flat broke, and then a whole bunch of deadbeat Democrats are going to finally find out what “root, hog, or die” means. Can’t wait.

  • Brian Too

    Lots of haters in this thread.

    I don’t think corporate executives are either 100% evil or princely figures doing yeoman work in the public service. They are human beings. Human beings working in a system that, for stretches of years or even decades at a time, reward them for making their companies more profitable, and nothing else. What do you think the term “the bottom line” means? How about “show me the money”, or even “greed is good”?

    The politicians can be bought, the regulations manipulated or circumvented. Given enough time weak figures, or unprincipled ones, gain enough control and the system experiences a breakdown. Witness the Great Depression, the S&L collapse, the Asian financial crisis, well there have been a lot. The fact that blame can be spread around and fingers pointed does not help address the societal damage the manics & panics cause.

    Then there’s a new round of regulations, tighter control, and vows that “we’ll never make that mistake again”. Not that regs are a panacea either, but they are the only real counterweight to corporate power and agendas. Therefore corporations hate regulation and government in the way that dogs hate cats–instinctively.

    Rinse and repeat.

  • Andy

    Not haters, they’re just pointing out the obvious. Obama lacks leadership skills. He’s only been keen on passing his own (far left) agenda since his “reign” began, most notably the health care bill that was literally forced upon us and “stimulus” that has failed miserably. Unemployment continues to rise (new first time unemployment claims of 477,000 last week, higher than expected), as do foreclosures. A stimulus failed under Bush too, why would it work now? (they hardly ever do) Just another way to disguise more spending for his agenda. He’s creating a rift in the Democratic Party because he ignores any form of compromise with their Conservative wing, the Blue Dogs, and the Liberals are angry because he’s not radical enough. It seems he can’t please either side of his party, not at the same time at least. Why do you think the Republicans are going to gain major ground in Congress in November? Must be because Obama is such a good leader…

    I sum up Obama’s leadership skills in one of his quotes: “I’d rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president”. Well, if he was a really good one-term president, wouldn’t you think he’d be re-elected to a second term…? At least he led a successful campaign in all “57 states”…and people thought Bush was dumb.

  • norman krauss, dds

    He’s NOT AN AMERICAN! ! ! !

  • http://* Alex D

    Impeach Obama!

  • Desotojohn

    It’s day 70 and where are we?

    The United States is accepting help from 12 countries and international organizations in dealing with the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

    Bill Clinton says we should consider blowing Up the Deepwater Horizon Well

    Rough weather whipped up by the season’s first Atlantic hurricane is disrupting cleanup of the massive BP Plc oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

    This isn’t much of a plan.

    Now we find out that Obama knew about this risky operation and gave it a green light – Obama and Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, … were informed that BP would drill an unprecedented 35,000 feet well bore at the Macondo site off the coast of Louisiana. … green-lighted the risky Macondo drilling operation from the outset, according to WMR’s government sources. http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Obama-Administration-Knew-About-Deepwater-Horizon-35000-Feet-Well-Bore.html

    I’m still waiting to hear about memorial services for the 11 hardy souls that lost their lives in the explosion. Have they ever recovered the bodies?


  • http://obamaoilspill.blogspot.com/ Blame Obama For Oil Spill?

    How is the BP oil spill Obama’s fault?

    don’t get it. Obama didn’t start the spill, Obama can’t magically fix something that is at a depth NOBODY has the technology to efficiently operate in, and Obama has no control over how many barrels of oil spill out every day.

  • http://alshaaer.com/ business man

    Nice post. I can’t help but feel like Obama’s losing support even of his most left wing supporters. You really think he has what it takes to pull this energy initiative off?


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