Americans Agree BP Deepwater Disaster Is Not Obama’s Katrina

A new poll by the Associated Press and GfK has found that Americans are far more approving of the Obama Administration’s response to the BP Deepwater Disaster than they were of the Bush Administration’s handling of the post-Hurricane Katrina catastrophe. That won’t stop loudmouthed critics of the current administration from continuing to claim that the Gulf oil spill is Obama’s Katrina.

I have to say, while I’m glad to hear my fellow Americans are more approving of the Obama Administration than the Bush Administration, I’m not very happy with the response to the oil spill myself. Though administration officials have issued some carefully worded statements about halting new drilling projects while they determine what exactly caused the Deepwater Horizon to explode and sink — subsequently causing an estimated 5,000 gallons of oil to spew into the Gulf per day, though there are now serious concerns among experts that the spill is actually four or five times that size — the Obama Administration remains committed to the epic folly of offshore drilling.

According to that same AP-GfK poll, 50% of Americans agree with the Pres and still think offshore drilling is a good idea, while 38% don’t. Rather than validate President Obama’s stance, this statistic is another failure by the Obama Administration and reason to disapprove of their handling of the oil spill response, in my opinion. At a time when the worst oil spill in decades is still unfolding in a ghastly spectacle before our very eyes, just weeks after 29 miners were killed in an explosion in a coal mine (both easily preventable tragedies that were the result of what appears to be gross negligence on the part of dirty fossil fuels companies who prioritize profits over worker safety and environmental protections), Obama could and should be making the case much more forcefully that there is an urgent need to transition off of fossil fuels altogether and move towards safe, clean renewable energy.

Instead, the Obama Administration is still approving offshore drilling plans with blanket exemptions from environmental impact assessment reporting, including two new projects of BP’s. Now we’re also hearing from the Center for Biological Diversity that 400+ offshore drilling projects in the Gulf of Mexico have been approved in violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act, which require permits that are designed to ensure protections for endangered whales and other marine mammal species.  Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director for CBD, which also broke the story about the U.S. Interior Dept.’s Minerals Management Service continuing to issue drilling permits without environmental reviews required by the National Environmental Policy Act, says, “Under Salazar’s watch, the Department of the Interior has treated the Gulf of Mexico as a sacrifice area where laws are ignored and wildlife protection takes a backseat to oil-company profits.”

CBD filed a notice of intent to sue Interior Secretary Ken Salazar “for ignoring marine-mammal protection laws when approving offshore drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico” today.

Despite promises to halt new drilling projects from being approved pending review of the causes of the BP Deepwater Disaster, the Obama Administration has made no move to halt Shell’s plans to drill in the Arctic this summer. CBD, along with a coalition of other environmental groups, filed a suit to stop those plans as well, but the suit was struck down by an appeals court yesterday. Undeterred, CBD and the other groups have vowed to continue fighting Shell’s reckless project from moving forward. Obama can’t just step in and meddle in the court’s decision, but certainly it could revoke or indefinitely put a hold on some permits. But of course, Obama apparently has no interest in doing that.

This is madness. We all need to be speaking up loudly and saying so. Take action now to tell Obama to Stop New Offshore Oil Drilling. Congress needs to hear from us en masse as well: the Kerry-Lieberman climate bill, incredibly, not only does nothing to reign in our addiction to oil, but actually incentivizes more offshore drilling. Take action now to Tell Congress: No drilling, no coal, clean energy now!

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