In my mind, these are two very different things.
With the leak, which began with the explosion and was followed by the ensuing leak of millions of gallons of crude oil, we can ask many questions…
Why did it happen? How can we keep it from happening again? How can we fix it now? What the beegeezers were we doing drilling so far out and so deep? (Was it because we’re not allowed to drill any closer to land??) Were there adequate plans in case of a problem (that didn’t reference Alaskan wildlife?) Vladmir has elaborated on this.
We’ve never had a leak like this, so deep and so large, so it makes sense that the answers aren’t all readily available. Having said that, these answers mostly lie with BP, the MMS and experts in that arena.
Then, there’s the spill. Under the Oil Pollution Act, the President has nearly dictatorial authority to take over the cleanup. It is the President’s responsibility to react to the spill with the Coast Guard in charge. (the EPA handles spills inland and the CG handles spills in open waters.) It’s clear to me that BP should PAY for the clean-up, but it is not clear to me that BP should RUN the clean-up. Obama using the word ‘responsible’ is too vague here, I think. It is Obama trying to muddy the waters and hide from the fact that it is HIS RESPONSIBILITY to clean up the spill.
Can he suck it up with a straw? NO!
Can he suspend the Jones Act, suspend environmental review for barriers, suspend competitive bidding for containment boom and actually empower Thad Allen? YES! These answers are much easier as we have had spills before, this one is just a lot bigger.
Let us have two different discussions about the leak and the spill, as they are very different things with very different solutions and responsible parties.