Here is a good comment from the post yesterday about the oil spill and the Obama response, with some specific suggestions. I’ll just post it here, because I think some of the suggestions are genuinely good:
Rayne over at Firedoglake has specific answers to your question. And this is only the beginning of what the administration could do. Cole seems to lack an appreciation of what power the president SHOULD wield on behalf of our country.
1) Obama needs to use that goddamned unitary executive power he’s been clinging to and declare a state of emergency in federal waters along the Gulf of Mexico, using an Executive Order. This is now an international situation, not just an American one, because the oil will eventually end up in the North Atlantic.
2) Declare British Petroleum in violation of its lease and kick them off the site. Threaten to seize all American assets of BP-America immediately if they do not assist in setting up a claims system which will be administered and overseen by the U.S. and paid by BP. (Hire all those poor Sallie Mae folks who were going to lose their jobs because of student loan reform for this purpose. /snark)
3) Ask the Department of Energy’s Steve Chu to create a skunkworks rapid solutions team from NASA and DARPA along with schools which specialize in oceanography, mechanical technology, geology, and computer modeling. Stop waiting for the nice old farts they pulled from JASON because this is an emergency, goddamnitall, we don’t have time for them to come up with a vetted, peer-reviewed whitepaper on this. Don’t listen to anybody’s crap about so-called experts on deepwater drilling and how they’ll solve the problem. As my 16-year-old said, “If there’s experts, where are they? Show me one.” Yeah. What she said.
4) Threaten to kick Ken Salazar to the curb if he doesn’t not immediately have every one of the 15+ deepwater offshore drilling sites reevaluated; every evaluation must be on POTUS desk inside 15 days from the date the Executive Order. And we want the evaluations made public — no more of this bullshit opacity the White House calls transparency. No excuses; all this stuff should have been submitted when BP and the other oil industry firms applied for the leases to begin with.
5) Approach corporations to develop an X-Prize type program to develop a private solution in tandem with the skunkworks solution. Ask Congress to create a special R&D tax credit for firms which donate money to the X-Prize for development.
6) Approach Florida State University (which now owns the former Scripps’ Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and its submersibles) along with Mississippi State (which has an oceanography program) and ask them to work with NIUST to develop models of the plume’s distribution, along with identifying the impact short and long-term on the ocean bottom and the ecosystem above it.
7) Suck up the arrogance and pride and ask the elder statesman of the environment to be the face of this effort. Ask Al Gore to do the legwork with the corporations and educational facilities whose cooperation is needed. Tell him this is to be used as an example of what people can do for the larger environment if they focus on this problem first. If they can solve this, they can solve the big problems.
8) Tell the Catfood Commission (read: Presidential Deficit Commission) to find a way to shoehorn in funding for an alternative energy Apollo Program or Marshall Plan. If you have to find a front man, go to Al Gore because this was his idea back in 1992. Jeebus, catch a clue and use the resources you have already; Gore wrote it all out for you in 1992.
9) Call that lazy-assed sad-sack Joe Lieberman and tell him whatever super-secret-y deal you guys have going in the way of a quid pro quo is off if Lieberman cannot find some reason to investigate the relationships between Department of Interior and any corporation with which it deals. Make the call private, and tell him if he doesn’t have hearings within 15 days you are going to publicly call him on the carpet for the benefit of CT voters every chance you get until 2012.
10) You know damned well if they cut corners in the Gulf of Mexico, they did it elsewhere. Threaten to go for the jugular on them if they don’t continue to play ball with clean-up in the Gulf.Take a bunch of bloggers up to BP’s operations in Alaska and let them roam around for a couple weeks. Make BP pay for it — figure it out, you have the EO in one hand and the power to print money in the other. Keep the pressure on BP until they beg for mercy.
11) And right now I’m tempted to tell one Barack Obama to get really, genuinely excitedly-upset, be more than that Spock character for once, add the passion of Captain Kirk and the anger of Dr. McCoy in the mix. That fakery last week only made us heave with nausea. And Rahm? Just bite me; whatever counsel you’ve offered Mr. Spock-the-President has been both incompetent and impotent.
While some of them are interesting, I’m still puzzled by the “kick BP off the site” stuff. And then what? Issue sternly worded letters to the spill? The government does not have the equipment to stop this spill. I’m not sure how many times this can be pointed out.
And point eleven is just more of this “We need a cheerleader” nonsense. Of all people, George Will made a lot of sense about this in the green room after an appearance on ABC’s This Week. Scroll to about 2 minutes in when Will starts to talk about the “cult of the Presidency.”