May 3, 2010

Trying to give merit to the right wing meme that the British Petroleum oil spill is somehow "Obama's Katrina", Chris Wallace rolls out a time line which implies that the Obama administration did not respond immediately to the disaster. Sec. Napolitano and Sec. Salazar pushed back and explained how the administration responded to the disaster from "the first hours of the explosion".

Media Matters has a detailed timeline of their own up to rebut this nonsense as well. Memo to media: Timeline contradicts "Obama's Katrina" claim:

A timeline of events following the catastrophic Gulf of Mexico oil spill belies the absurd media claim that the spill represents "Obama's Katrina."

April 20 (10 p.m.): Oil rig explosion. An April 21 article reported, "An overnight explosion in the Gulf of Mexico rocked the Deepwater Horizon oil rig off the Louisiana coast, sending spectacular bursts of flame into the sky. The fires were still raging today." The U.S. Coast Guard's National Oil and Hazardous Substances Response System assigns primary responsibility for cleaning up oil spills to the spiller as the responsible party.

April 21: Deputy Secretary of Interior, Coast Guard dispatched to region. An April 22 White House statement noted that following a briefing with President Obama, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen, Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, "Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes was dispatched to the region yesterday to assist with coordination and response." The Coast Guard announced that four units were responding to the fire, with additional units en route. Read on...

Transcript below the fold.

WALLACE: A number of Louisiana officials are saying that the Obama administration was slow to respond to this crisis. And I want to review the timeline of what has happened here. On April 20th, the explosion of the drilling platform. For days, BP and the Coast Guard say there is no leak. On April 24th, we're told it's leaking 1,000 barrels a day. On April 28th, the estimate is raised to 5,000 barrels a day. It's not until April 29th, nine days after the accident, that the president makes his first statement about what is now called an incident of national significance.

Secretary Napolitano, should the administration have responded faster?

NAPOLITANO: Oh, the administration responded with all hands on deck from day one. What happened is the situation itself evolved. The situation evolved from an explosion and a search-and-rescue mission to several days later the actual sinking of the rig. At that point in time, the oil was being burned off on the surface. To the next phase, was that the oil began to spread, and could not all and was not all being burned off on the surface. And then we had assets in place, already predeployed, more than 70 vessels, hundreds of thousands of feet of boom. The command center, the integrated command center the commandant referred to was already stood up, with the states involved from day one, I might say.

WALLACE: You know some critics are saying this could be Obama's Katrina.

NAPOLITANO: Yes, I think that is a total mischaracterization. I think we will be happy when all is said and done to be very transparent with all the activity that has happened really from the first hours of the explosion. And those questions will be asked and they'll be answered. But the key fact of the matter is that this has been all hands on deck, across the federal government, with the states, with BP from the day of this incident.

SALAZAR: If I may, just on that point, from day one, the president has been involved and informed and has been directing us to do everything that we can and not to spare any effort.

Your timeline that you had up there, frankly, you can go back and you can put April 22nd on there, where we were stepping on the neck of BP to do everything that it can do, because it's its responsibility. A letter from them saying what their resources were and how they were moving forward to implement the vast oil spill response plan. So from day one, we've been on top of this every minute, 24 hours a day, trying to get the situation under control.

WALLACE: Secretary Salazar, you helped develop the plan that the president announced at the end of March to expand exploration of oil and natural gas along several areas of the coastline, not just the Gulf, but also along the East Coast, parts of the eastern Gulf and also off a part of the Alaska coast. After this accident, have you changed your mind about the wisdom of that policy?

SALAZAR: There have been 30,000 wells, oil and gas wells that have been drilled just in the Gulf of Mexico alone. And currently today, 30 percent of our oil and gas resources come from the Gulf of Mexico. There is a huge economic infusion. Our economy depends on it. It had been an industry that has been conducted in a very safe manner. Blowouts occur, but these safety mechanisms have been in place.

Why this failed here is something that we are investigating and we have a joint investigation that will give us some answers. But right now, until we find out some more information, this will be something that will be evolving. And if we have to revisit what we have allowed in the deep water, we will do that, but that will be based on the best facts and the best science as we move forward.

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