BP Oil Spill: Who’s Really Responsible?

“I take responsibility. It is my job to make sure that everything is done to shut this down,” Obama said at a news conference, where he announced a series of new restrictions on oil drilling projects.
(Associated Press [2010, May 28]. Obama Returns to Gulf Amid Escalating Anger. http://www.foxnews.com)

The BP oil spill in the gulf of mexico that has been flooding the region with crude oil for five weeks now is a disaster.  At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, I’ll even say it’s an ecological nightmare.  At even the most conservative estimates it has far surpassed the Exxon Valdez incident in 1989.  I think we can all agree that it is a tragedy, should never have happened and needs to get fixed ASAP.    But who is to blame?  Who should take responsibility?  Who should be held accountable?

I’ve made no attempt to disguise that I am not a fan of President Barack Obama.  But I don’t think he is the one who ought to be taking responsibility.  This seems to me yet another example of the federal government taking upon itself duties and responsibilities outside its purview.

“Elizabeth Birnbaum, the head of the Minerals Management Service that oversees offshore drilling, became the highest-ranking political casualty of the spill when she resigned Thursday under pressure” (ibid.).

I confess I don’t know much about Mss. Birnbaum, but I question whether she really is the correct person to resign.  It seems whenever some tragedy occurs we go on a witch hunt.  We have a compulsive need to crucify someone whenever something bad happens, even if they aren’t the person at fault.

The various quotes I’ve read in papers reveal that people seem to think it’s the Federal Government’s  (in general) and President Obama’s (in particular) job to solve this crisis.  What has the president done to fix it?  Announced new restrictions on drilling and halted deep water exploratory drilling in the gulf.  I agree that safety concerns need to be addressed.  I’d fully support inspection teams to ascertain the situation on the individual rigs as well as, perhaps, some new safety guidelines based upon lessons learned from this disaster.  It makes sense to develop new response plans for the future as well (or rather make sure the Oil Companies have adequate response plans).   I fear, though, that the only actual result of this moratorium is going to be higher fuel costs which in turn means higher costs on just about everything else.

Who is responsible? Who should be held accountable?  Who (if anyone) should resign?  And who should take the lead in resolving this crisis?

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