President Obama made an excellent speech from the Oval Office Tuesday night.
He pledged to do “whatever it takes” to clean up the spill and restore the Gulf Coast.
And he insisted that BP be held accountable: that it set aside a fund for the workers and the communities it affected, and that it pay for the restoration of the Gulf Coast. He also demanded that this fund be administered by an independent third party.
Obama also underscored that “the days of cheap oil are over,” a point that Professor Michael Klare at Hampshire has highlighted for a long time now.
And Obama seized the moment by saying “the time to embrace the clean energy future is now” and that we need to “accelerate the transition to clean energy.”
Most pointedly, and appropriately, he condemned, in unequivocal terms, the “failed philosophy” that led to this disaster, a “philosophy that views all regulation with hostility, a philosophy that says corporations should be allowed to play by their own rules and police themselves.”
At the Minerals Management Service, Obama said, “industry insiders were put in charge of industry oversight. Oil companies showered regulators with gifts and favors and were essentially allowed to conduct their own safety inspections and write their own regulations.”
(This philosophy goes back at least to Ronald Reagan, who looks worse and worse today. Meanwhile Jimmy Carter looks better and better with his cardigan sweater and his White House solar panel.)
Obama vowed to make that agency an “oil industry watchdog,” not a “a partner.”
Obama needs to root out this philosophy, not just in the Minerals Management Service but throughout the Executive Branch.
Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine.
If you liked this article by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his article, “How Dare Tony Hayward Say He Wants His Life Back.”