Divided Tragedy


If you can reduce the tragic flow of oil in the Gulf by half, what remains? Half a tragedy.

Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said Saturday that after its first full day of work, the cap placed on the gusher near the sea floor trapped about 252,000 gallons of oil, which is somewhere between a quarter to half of the oil flowing from the well, according to government estimates.

Like adjusting the mix on a carburetor, the flow of oil still entering the water will be gradually reduced.

Next, BP engineers must attempt to close vents on the cap that were deliberately allowing streams of oil to escape the system so water cannot get inside. When water and gas combined in an earlier containment box, it formed a frozen slush that foiled the system.

The inability to confront the oil already in the water is likely to continue to haunt the Obama administration, even as the president has visited twice in the past 8 days after the political strategy of demonizing BP failed.

In Gulf Shores, Ala., boardwalks leading to hotels were tattooed with oil from beachgoers’ feet. A slick hundreds of yards long washed ashore at a state park, coating the white sand with a thick, red stew. Cleanup workers rushed to contain it in bags, but more washed in before they could remove the first wave of debris.

A large majority of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll say BP PLC—and not U.S. regulators—is responsible for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

As haphazard as BP’s attempts to cap the well have been, the cleanup seems half assed, with little being done to stop the slick that is threatening our shore lines and economy.

But by a margin of 60 percent to 40 percent, readers disapprove of the government’s response to the oil spill.

The left, meanwhile, is starting to pressure the President to be tougher on BP – yet another way of saying there is not enough leadership coming from Obama. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich says BP should be seized – temporarily.

“This is a national emergency,” Reich told the Observer. “It’s simply untenable for a for-profit company with responsibility to its shareholders to be in charge of handling one of the worst environmental disasters in American history. At the moment, the president has no direct ability to instruct BP to do anything.”

The ultimate end of the leak is said to be planned for August, when the supply of oil is expected to be diverted with the creation of two new wells. Which will mark the end of a chapter, but not the larger problem.

Government officials estimate that roughly 22 million to 48 million gallons have leaked into the Gulf since the April 20 explosion that killed 11 workers.

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