You Can’t Fight An Oil ‘Spill’

As I was listening to Obama’s Oval Office oil ‘spill’ speech, I had a fantasy that he was going to tell us that he would immediately order the cessation of the use of dispersants because clearly they were making things even worse than just the oil and that going forward, the U.S. would do its bit to cut dependence on oil by immediately ceasing all military actions because BP is the Pentagon’s largest fuel supplier and it was time to set an example for the rest of the world by being good planetary citizens.

Unfortunately, not only did Obama not say this, it came off sounding like he was going to war with the oil, while all the while referring to it as a ‘spill’, rather than an act of corporate terrorism. Very metaphorically mixed thinking, that ended with an actually we got nothing reference to faith.

“Already, this oil spill is the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced. And unlike an earthquake or a hurricane, it’s not a single event that does its damage in a matter of minutes or days. The millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico are more like an epidemic, one that we will be fighting for months and even years.

But make no mistake: We will fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long as it takes. We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused. And we will do whatever’s necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy.

Tonight I’d like to lay out for you what our battle plan is going forward: what we’re doing to clean up the oil, what we’re doing to help our neighbors in the Gulf, and what we’re doing to make sure that a catastrophe like this never happens again.

First, the cleanup. From the very beginning of this crisis, the federal government has been in charge of the largest environmental cleanup effort in our nation’s history — an effort led by Admiral Thad Allen, who has almost 40 years of experience responding to disasters.”

Can we just call bs on that last statement?

“We now have nearly 30,000 personnel who are working across four states to contain and clean up the oil. Thousands of ships and other vessels are responding in the Gulf. And I’ve authorized the deployment of over 17,000 National Guard members along the coast. These servicemen and women are ready to help stop the oil from coming ashore, they’re ready to help clean the beaches, train response workers, or even help with processing claims — and I urge the governors in the affected states to activate these troops as soon as possible.”

While I actually agree that in fact that is a good use of the National Guard, why on earth did it take this long to authorize their use? But as I said, the tenor of his speech was of the ‘this is war’ genre and frankly, I don’t think Mother Earth can take any more assaults. We need to absolutely quit talking about cleanup and recovery as if we can make this disappear. We can clean up some of it, salvage what we can, and work to make people’s lives whole again, but we can’t fix this disaster–significant parts of the Gulf are now dead and we have unleashed a toxic monster that will be with us for a long time if not forever, and no amount of National Guard troops is going to change that.


Addenda:  Robert Scheer eloquently addresses the inexcusable war lingo here:

“What’s with the president’s war analogy on the oil spill? It’s as if some alien force, “The Invasion of the Slippery Sludge,” suddenly attacked us. “Abroad, our brave men and women in uniform are taking the fight to al-Qaida,” President Barack Obama said Tuesday in his White House speech, “and tonight, I’ve returned from a trip to the Gulf Coast to speak with you about the battle we’re waging against an oil spill that is assaulting our shores and our citizens.”

What nonsense. The oil was minding its own business until some multinational corporations, enabled by a dysfunctional government regulatory regime, decided to wage war on the ecological balance of the oceans by employing technology that they were not prepared to control. Cleaning up the oil spill mess we made by raping the environment to satiate our consumer gluttony is not a glorious battle against evil but rather obligatory penance for the profound error of our ways.

You wound Mother Nature by punching a hole deep in her pristine ocean where you have no business going and when she bleeds uncontrollably you dare blame her for the assault? This from a president who shortly before this disaster had given the oil companies permission to pillage in the deep seas at will.”

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