Dana1981 asked in Politics & GovernmentPolitics · 10 years ago

How did George HW Bush's response to Exxon Valdez compare to Obama's response to the BP Gulf disaster?

There has been immense criticism of President Obama's response to the BP Gulf oil disaster. He needs to get angry. He needs to take charge. He needs to swim down there and plug the hole with his butt. Honestly I don't know exactly what people expect him to do. The government doesn't have the capability of responding to this sort of offshore leak. All the can do is oversee the BP response, which is exactly what they're doing.

According to Fareed Zakaria, the George H.W. Bush administration specifically denied that the federal government bore any responsibility for the Exxon Valdez cleanup. In fact, Transportation Secretary Samuel Skinner declared that government involvement would be “counterproductive.” Bush Sr. never visited the oil spill site and there was little call from the press for him to do more - a stark contrast to the media's criticism of President Obama.


Is this an accurate description of the responses and criticisms of Presidents George HW Bush and Obama to the Exxon Valdez and BP Gulf oil disasters? Is President Obama both doing more and taking more criticism than President Bush Sr.?

15 Answers

  • bubba
    Lv 6
    10 years ago
    Best Answer

    First and foremost, GHW Bush was not subjected to the partisan environment and crazy right-wing allegations that Obama is subject to. There are those who will never admit Obama has done anything right even if he was Christ himself.

    Second, the Valdez was much simpler than the Gulf spill. It was above water and the flow rate could be easily determined so that the appropriate response could quickly be formulated. It was much harder to hide the size and rate of the spill. BP has every reason to hide the size and flow rate of the Gulf spill to limit liability, and their initial claims to size and flow rate could not be verified, so the appropriateness of the response could not be easily determined. Remember, BP's initial estimate was 1000 barrels a day - off by 25 to 40 times.

    Third, the Valdez response was a disaster because it was left to Exxon alone. Lots of new legislation came out of it. Looks like it may have been a total waste of time and money. More will come of this spill, indicating a lack of acceptability of the response for both BP and the government.

    Obama is doing more of everything than GHW Bush and taking more criticism - some justified and some just right-wingnut idiocy. But it could be worse. McCain (or God forbid Palin) could be in office. Then everything would be much worse still.

    I fault the government (congress and the presidency) for creating the situation where the MMS is a toothless rubber-stamp of the oil industry. This is not Obama's fault - goes back many years before, but Obama has to fix this dysfunctional mess of a response. I do risk assessment work, and never would I be allowed to turn in an assessment that indicates "no significant damage is expected." You develop a range of potential risks given certain events scenarios (some very extreme), quantify what potential hazards expect (and assumptions) and qualify those you can't put numbers to, build in safety factors, and present the data to the agency who decides how much response may be needed given events.

    Any spill ("significant" or not) should trigger a response. The size of the response is the question. Send what you think is needed out and get the next higher level of response ready to take effect if the simpler response doesn't work.

    As BP has acknowledged, their response plans were inadequate, but so was the governments management of the response. They did not demand ahead of time that enough resources be in place AHEAD of the catastrophe to have a timely response. I like Obama and think he is doing a good job as president (you can tell by all the angry wingnuts on the right this is the case) and don't believe this is "Obama's fault," but the buck does stop with him. I think he can make it right by putting policies in place and cleaning up the MMS.

    What would be the result if there was a multi-billion dollar spill response fund to compensate victims and mitigate damage that the oil companies had to pay into at a rate based on their safety record? Like paying an insurance premium. Would it have saved the men who died because of cutting corners by BP? Would the spill have occurred or been more manageable. It is all Monday-morning QBing now. Such a fund is socializing the costs of the spill somewhat (forced insurance) but it is protecting social interest and it is in societies interest to have some safe drilling until we can diversify our energy sources and maybe reduce (or at least slow the expansion) of drilling.

    What about expertise? Drilling and capping expertise lies with the industry while environmental cleanup expertise lies elsewhere (EPA, national labs, academia, states, private companies). Can't a response advisory team be developed when needed to quickly id complex problems like the Gulf spill?? Just some thoughts.

  • 4 years ago

    Liberal bias, You truly don't know jack squat about anything do you. The Coast Guard response was as you said, immediately on scene to rescue and begin a body recovery, That was what the initial contact was involving, However what the Coast guard and NOAA did not do, Which they should have done unilaterally was assess the degree of the damage done to the rig, and the under the water line flow pipes. Which they DID NOT DO, They allowed BP to take the lead position in the clean up. Which has now proven to be the biggest blunder of the century. BP short sold the magnitude of the spill and the amount of fuel belching its way into the gulf. Until it became so obvious we were headed for environmental disaster as we are now dealing with. So please don't show your ignorance for what you think Obama did right. Deal with what was not done at all.

  • 10 years ago

    Very good point =>

    but it won't get through the thick skulls of the neocons.

    Obama could put his hand to the water and magically turn it ocean blue and people would still bash him. They bash him because he's a liberal democrat. thats all. They don't even know why, they're just brainwashed to hate anything thats labeled "liberal"

    Either the conservatives will just deny it up and down, or ignore that fact and just close their eyes and cover their ears and keep spouting off about how evil incarnate obama is.

    They also don't realize that the reason BP had no failsafe plan was because of all the years of de-regulation by the conservatives.

    It's a no win situation, the conservatives slander the democrats as fascist anti-american eco-whackos for trying to regulate the oil industry, then they slander them as imcompetent morons when an unfixable disaster happens. How people are still buying this crap is beyond me

  • Miles
    Lv 4
    10 years ago

    Norm D , my little friend, the Valdez is still not cleaned up ,New Orleans is still a mess,and a few silly Americans are still trying to make up excuses

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  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    Everyone knows that republicans cannot be trusted with matters of the environment, Bush wouldn't have left the golf course if this was on his watch, but we expect more from Obama. Obama should have ordered the construction of barrier islands, ordered more personnel to lay boom, ordered tankers to sell thier load and begin sucking water, ect.

  • 10 years ago

    @Norm D: where is your proof? Also, interesting comparison- Katrina- that happened on Bush's watch.

    @ This question: I don't know why the press loves to tear him apart. They keep getting worse with tearing people apart- I guess people like the drama.

  • JSB
    Lv 4
    10 years ago

    Why? Is George H W Bush intending to stand for President again?

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    The only reason for the attacks is because of the way Democrats and liberals bashed on Bush for hurricane Katrina.

    No more, no less.

    That's the reason.

  • 10 years ago

    I don't expect him to swim down and plug the hole. I expect him to communicate and coordinate all efforts at resolving the problem. For instance, giving the governors what they need or allowing ships to enter that are coming to help. I do not expect him to kick ***!

    You're right that the gov isn't capable of handling this situation. I've seen Obama being a complete failure at responding to this and a complete failure at taking a leadership role.

  • Bush went fishing and play golf. He said that Federal government is not responsible for this incident

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