SENATE REPORT: President Obama and the Flawed Federal Response to the BP Disaster
May 7, 2010
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NEW SENATE REPORT: FAILURE OF LEADERSHIP: PRESIDENT OBAMA AND THE FLAWED FEDERAL RESPONSE TO THE BP DISASTER
Washington, D.C. - Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, released a report on August 5, 2010 titled, "Failure of Leadership: President Obama and the Flawed Federal Response to the BP Disaster."
The report concludes that "President Obama and Administration officials failed in several instances to remove regulatory and bureaucratic impediments and to ensure that proper and adequate resources were brought to bear in addressing the BP disaster."
The report documents various constitutional and legal authorities available to President Obama and federal agencies under his control-authorities that could have enabled them to respond to the BP disaster as expeditiously as possible. Yet, as the Senate report explains, in many important instances, these authorities were either ignored or fitfully exercised.
The report documents specific examples of the President's failure to demonstrate leadership. They include:
- Assistance: In the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, multiple offers of assistance from foreign governments, corporations, and international bodies poured into the State Department. Yet, for weeks, despite the clear need for additional help and resources, the State Department failed to act on them.
- Skimmers: President Obama failed to do everything necessary to deploy available skimming vessels. For example, he refused to issue waivers under the Jones Act, which prevented foreign vessels from working with American counterparts to skim oil from the Gulf.
- Dispersants: EPA's management of dispersants was unfocused, and its communications about their safety and effectiveness was contradictory--all of which created confusion about their use. Moreover, top officials from the Obama White House contributed to this confusion, as they issued statements about dispersants that, at best, glossed over EPA's concerns, or, at worst, were deliberately designed to conceal them.
- Workplace Rules: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforced rules and requirements that severely restricted needed legal and operational flexibility in response efforts. OSHA, for example, mandated 20-minute shifts for clean-up workers and required 40-hour training courses for potential supervisors.
Sen. Inhofe announced the release of the new Senate Report in a YouTube video. Sen. Inhofe states in the video, "Our prayers go out to the families and loved ones of those who lost lives in this tragedy and to everyone who continues to feel its devastating impacts. 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."
Information on Gulf Coast Oil Spill Emergency Response
First and foremost, our prayers are with the families who lost loved ones in this tragic event. Senator Inhofe will provide assistance to EPA [and other federal agencies] as they work on the comprehensive response effort. He also believes it is important to investigate how the Gulf Coast oil spill occurred, and once we have an understanding of the causes, help to prevent this type of accident from occurring in the future.
This tragedy began on the evening of April 20th with an explosion on TransOcean's Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which was utilized by BP for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The rig sank two days later. Out of the 126 people aboard the rig, 17 people were injured and 11 are presumed dead. On April 24th, the Coast Guard stated that there were about 1,000 barrels a day emanating from the wellhead into the water and that it could become a major spill. Four days later, workers began a controlled burn to minimize damage to the shoreline. It is now estimated that the oil could be leaking at five times the rate initially believed. A lack of supplies and bad weather has complicated the clean-up.
In an effort to help provide information for constituents, Senator Inhofe has created this webpage. Here you will be able to find the latest developments, commentary, and other resources about the spill.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our office at (202) 224-6176.
EPW Committee Hearings
The Latest News from the Inhofe EPW Press Office
Links to the Latest Information from U.S . Agencies and Officials
The official federal portal for the Deepwater BP oil spill response and recovery:
Information from the Environment Protection Agency (EPA):
Information from the Facebook Page of EPA:
Information from the Facebook page of Lisa Jackson, EPA Administrator:
Information from the Twitter Account of Lisa Jackson, EPA Administrator:
Reports from the Coast Guard, NOAA, the Department of Homeland Security and BP:
Information from the Minerals Management Service (MMS):
Information from the Office of Response and Restoration NOAA's National Ocean Service:
Information from the Congressional Research Service:
Links to the Latest Information from Outside Resources
Information from British Petroleum
Information from American Petroleum Institute
Letters from Stakeholders on Oil Spill Liability Legislation
American Waterways Operators - July 29, 2010
Louisiana Oil and Gas Association - June 30, 2010
National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) - June 08, 2010
Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) - June 07, 2010
International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC) - June 04, 2010
Lockton Companies, LLC - May 13, 2010
INDECS - May 12, 2010
Lloyd and Partners Limited - May 10, 2010
Alliant Insurance Services, Inc. - May 10, 2010