Feds May Take Over Oil Cleanup Efforts from BP

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

BP CEO Tony Hayward (C) answers questions from the media on an oil-stained beach on May 24, 2010 at Port Fourchon, Louisiana. Hayward said that BP is doing everything possible to clean up the spill. (John Moore/Getty Images/Getty)

Oil has now been gushing into the Gulf of Mexico for 36 days. BP has taken full responsibility for plugging the leak and cleaning up the water and shores, but some are now saying that after a month of attempts, their time at bat is up, and the federal government should take over operations. According to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the government can federalize the spill and run the cleanup operation, billing BP for the total cost. However, this remedy is meant to be used as a last resort.

We talk with David Pettit from the Natural Resources Defense Council about the legal obligations of the federal government to take over this process. And David Biello from Scientific American helps us assess whether the federal government has the technology and expertise to more effectively cleanup the spill than a large oil company like BP.

Guests:

David Biello and David Pettit

Produced by:

David Ingram

Comments [3]

jerry clontz from Aiken, SC

I am a Chemical Engineer. Here you have a perfect set up for removing the oil off the surface of the Gulf. Water being lighter than water immediately goes to the top. You could use a base tanker to suck the contaminated water from the surface of the ocean, allow it to settle out, pump the bottom of the tanker which is seawater back into the gulf and pumt the top to tankers standing by to carry the oil off to processing stations on shore.

If we found oil this way naturally it would be much easier and much more economical to obtain than drilling. Who do we go to to get this in action???

Jun. 03 2010 08:26 AM

The BP Gulf oil spill disaster seems to point out a basic problem in our evaluation of the risks of oil drilling. People didn't didn't like to see drilling rigs offshore. So, we banned drilling in shallow water just offshore and permitted it in deep water areas in the open ocean. What we're now finding out is, though there may be only a very small chance of a disaster on a deep water drilling platform, if it happens the consequences will be cataclysmic. Second, the technology for drilling deep water wells seems to be way ahead of the technology for stopping an out of control well and cleaning up spills at that depth. The old NIMBY (not in my back yard) strategy doesn't work so well.

May. 25 2010 01:48 PM
Rebecca Carr from Effingham, SC

Your panelists seem to agree that the government doesn't have the equipment and expertise to take over efforts to stop the spill. What the government should be coordinating - keeping the oil from reaching shore - Gov. Jindal and La. officials have charged that they're dragging their feet in approving things like deploying booms and building berms to protect islands. Do these charges have merit? Why the delays?

May. 25 2010 09:26 AM

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