Suddenly, what Michele Bachmann might call 'socialism' or a 'government power grab' doesn't seem to faze British Petroleum (emphasis added):
Environmental issues worsen in Gulf spill
NEW ORLEANS — Time appeared to be running out Thursday to prevent a disaster that could harm the ecosystem along the Gulf Coast as 210,000 gallons of oil has leaked into the water every day since an oil rig exploded and sank last week.
Officials from British Petroleum, the oil company which operated the rig, to the Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security and Environmental Protection Administration scrambled to figure out how to contain the massive spill after a third leak was discovered Wednesday and oil crept within 12 miles of the coast.
In a news conference, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano called the disaster a "spill of national significance." That allows the federal government to mobilize additional resources along the coast and to centralize communication. She said 1,100 people were working to contain the spill and that 685,000 gallons of oily water had been collected so far.
"We'll take help from anyone," BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said on NBC's Today show, adding that he welcomes assistance from the military.
Of course, last year, when the government was trying to enact more effective safety measures, BP strongly opposed enhanced regulation, preferring a voluntary set of safety measures instead.
Now, less than a year later, BP has proven itself incapable of safely operating offshore drilling equipment, and the government is stepping in, as it must and as it should. It's not just that government has the resources to intervene, it's also that of all the players in this mess, the government is the only one that is ultimately accountable to the public, by way of the ballot box.
But as Turkana argued in a diary earlier today, the fact that the U.S. government is taking responsibility for protecting its citizens must not let BP escape accountability for the harm its operations have caused. Fortunately, as Turkana noted, at today's press briefing, Robert Gibbs and Janet Napolitano repeatedly said BP would pay for the response and cleanup operations:
GIBBS: In accordance with the 1990 Oil Pollution Act, passed after the Exxon Valdez, BP, as the responsible party, is required to fund the cost of the response and cleanup operations, and they are doing so.
NAPOLITANO: As the President and the law have made clear, BP is the responsible party and is required to fund the costs of the response and cleanup operations.
Q: You mentioned that there’s going to be a much greater federal response to this. Can you give us an estimate of how much you think this is going to cost in a worst-case scenario, and who is going to bear the cost of that response? Will it be American taxpayers?
GIBBS: Under the Oil Pollution Act, BP pays for all this.
Q: They pay for everything?
Q: You said that BP is responsible for ultimately footing the bill, but have there been any initial cost estimates that have been --
GIBBS: For -- the initial cost estimate for BP?
Q: Yes -- Just total.
GIBBS: I would direct that to BP.
Gibbs and Napolitano are exactly right -- and it's essential that the Obama administration hold its ground. We can't let BP off the hook. We've already got plenty of experience with privatizing profit and socializing loss. That must not continue. No bailout for BP. If they can't afford to clean up their mess, if the public is forced to bear the burden of cleanup, then BP should be staring at bankruptcy. No more unlimited profit at our expense.