NEW SENATE REPORT: FAILURE OF LEADERSHIP: PRESIDENT OBAMA AND THE FLAWED FEDERAL RESPONSE TO THE BP DISASTER
August 5, 2010

Contacts:

Matt Dempsey Matt_Dempsey@epw.senate.gov (202) 224-9797

David Lungren David_Lungren@epw.senate.gov (202) 224-5652

NEW SENATE REPORT

FAILURE OF LEADERSHIP: PRESIDENT OBAMA AND THE FLAWED FEDERAL RESPONSE TO THE BP DISASTER

Watch Inhofe YouTube Video

Link to Senate Report

Link to YouTube Video

Washington, D.C. - Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, released a report today 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."

 

Inhofe YouTube Script

Hello, I'm Jim Inhofe, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Today, I am releasing a new Senate report, available on my website, www.inhofe.senate.gov, detailing the Obama administration's failed response to the largest environmental catastrophe in U.S. history, the BP oil spill.

The report makes clear that President Obama and his Administration failed in several instances to remove regulatory and bureaucratic hurdles and to ensure that proper and adequate resources were brought to bear in addressing the BP disaster.

Put simply, the Administration failed to take decisive action. For example, 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.

Another example: President Obama possessed multiple authorities to generate the needed supply of skimming vessels to remove oil from the Gulf. These authorities were not exercised, and the lack of leadership resulted in confusion and a disjointed response.

The report also shows that the Obama administration allowed OSHA to enforce rules and requirements that severely restricted needed flexibility in response efforts. OSHA, for example, mandated 20-minute shifts for clean-up workers and required 40-hour training courses for potential supervisors.

Sadly, the reality in Washington is that the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress were more anxious to exploit the disaster in an attempt to pass their liberal agenda than to respond to the Gulf tragedy. They wanted to pass a national energy tax on consumers and find ways to shut down offshore drilling completely. As one Gulf State Democrat put it, "I wish that somebody would focus on helping the Gulf Coast instead of on destroying an industry."

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.

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