Obama Failed to Lead During Oil Spill

Sen. James Inhofe, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, released a report Thursday detailing the Obama Administration’s failed leadership in the BP oil spill disaster which began in late April.

“President Obama failed to exercise the necessary presidential leadership in a time of crisis,” the opening page of the report states.

The report quotes Obama on May 2 saying, “I’m not going to rest—and none of the gentlemen and women who are here are going to rest—or be satisfied until the leak is stopped at the source, the oil on the Gulf is contained and cleaned up, and the people of this region are able to go back to their lives and their livelihoods.”

Yet the report says between April 23 and June 19, the President went on vacation twice, played eight rounds of golf, was a guest on the Jay Leno and George Lopez shows, and attended two rock concerts and a baseball game. 

The 35-page report details several ways in which the President and his administration could have sped up the cleanup process by removing red tape, or not creating it. One example was refusing to override the Occupational Safety and Health Administration workplace rules that hampered cleanup efforts. OSHA released a “Heat Stress Management Plan” that mandated workers could only work 10 minutes of every hour for the first two days on the job if they were “workers new to working in a hot environment, workers returning after three weeks of cooler weather, or returning after being sick.”

The report also criticizes the President for stalling foreign aid that could help clean up the oil spill. The report says approximately 60 separate offers of a variety of resources were made to help with cleanup, the first one coming on April 29.

Yet, two months after the spill, 46 of those offers remained “under consideration,” although Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said as late as May 24, “It is clear we don’t have the resources we need to protect our coast… We need more boom, more skimmers, more vacuums, more jack-up barges that are still in short supply.”

Jefferson Parish Councilman-at-Large John Young and Councilman Chris Roberts are both quoted in the report expressing frustration with the federal bureaucracy during the cleanup process.

The report outlined Obama’s poor handling of the necessary skimmers needed to clean up the oil as well as EPA’s poor handling of the use of dispersants for the same purpose. The report says the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 makes the response to an oil spill the President’s responsibility.

“The federal government had an obligation to respond immediately and get the job done right. Unfortunately, as the Senate report shows, the Obama Administration failed,” Inhofe said in a YouTube statement released with the report.

Read the full report.