The White House Pens Oil Disaster Response Screenplay on Its Blog


Today in Hill/Street Greens, from the Hill…

Know what spells efficiency? A 6,200-word blog post that attempts to define efficiency.

This morning, the White House responded to criticisms that suggested it acted slowly to the Gulf oil disaster by posting an entry on its official blog. It’s more of a movie treatment, really, dutifully story-boarding what the government has done since the moment the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded off the coast of Louisiana on April 20th.

From the post, written by White House Deputy Homeland Security Advisor Heidi Avery:

Evening of Tuesday, April 20

Search and Rescue

The U.S. government response to the BP Oil Spill began immediately after the explosion on the night of April 20 as an emergency search-and-rescue mission. At approximately 10:30 p.m. that night, notification was received that Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU) Deepwater Horizon had exploded and was on fire. The rig was located 45 miles southeast of Venice, LA.

Establish Command Center to Address Potential Environmental Impacts

Concurrently, the administration also quickly establishes a command center on the Gulf Coast to address the potential environmental impact of the event and to coordinate with all state and local governments. Since this point, the administration has continuously anticipated and planned for a worst-case scenario.

NOAA Mobilizes to Provide Trajectory Support

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) mobilizes within three hours of the explosion and started to provide trajectory support and coordinated scientific weather and biological response services. The NOAA weather forecast office in Slidell, LA., also provided weather information to the Coast Guard at its request shortly after the explosion to support initial search-and-rescue operations.

The President is Alerted

The President is alerted to the event and he begins actively monitoring the situation. At the time, it was known that 126 people were on the rig when the explosion occurred.

…and fade out.

The Obama administration has worked hard to beat the press and public relations clusterspill to the punch and address the impact and restoration of the disaster. Thus far, key members of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Interior, Homeland Security and the U.S. Coast Guard have been deployed to Louisiana to help coordinate the response.

Then there’s the tough talk, a la Martin Scorsese. President Obama said this two days ago:

“Let me be clear. BP is responsible for this leak, BP will be paying the bill. But, as President of the United States, I’m going to spare no effort to respond to this crisis for as long as it continues. We will spare no resource to clean up whatever damage is caused. And while there will be time to fully investigate to find out what happened on that rig and hold responsible parties accountable, our focus now is on a fully coordinated, relentless response effort to stop the leak and prevent more damage to the Gulf.”

This hard-boiled rhetoric has that De Niro ring to it, doesn’t it? BP better pay-up on the environmental and economic debt this spill has caused – or else. Also, at several press briefings, President Obama has mentioned that the oil company will bear the full cost of the disaster. (And cue the price spike for gasoline in 3…2…1…)

Do you feel that the administration is still only providing a play-by-play from behind the scenes? Several criticisms suggest that it took the government over a week to label the spill as being of “national significance,” which green-lights more federally approved monies and personnel to respond to a crisis. Tell us what you think in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This is the latest installment in Christopher Correa’s weekly column, Hill/Street Greens, examining the environmental deeds (and misdeeds) of Washington, D.C. and Wall Street.

Image: U.S. Army Environmental Command