Should Obama Temporarily Take Over BP?


Photo via the Times Online

Public policy expert and Salon writer Robert Reich thinks he should. In a persuasive piece that's the sort of idea du jour in the green blogosphere, he argues that the Obama administration needs to put BP into a temporary receivership, allowing the federal government to have direct authority over the flailing company. Reich lists 5 reasons that make the need to take over BP clear (read the full explanations and article over at Salon):

1. We are not getting the truth from BP. BP has continuously and dramatically understated size of gusher...
2. We have no way to be sure BP is devoting enough resources to stopping the gusher. BP is now saying it has no immediate way to stop up the well until August ...
3. BP's new strategy for stopping the gusher is highly risky. It wants to sever the leaking pipe cleanly from atop the failed blowout preventer, and then install a new cap so the escaping oil can be pumped up to a ship on the surface. But scientists say that could result in an even bigger volume of oil -- as much as 20 percent more -- gushing from the well.
4. Right now, the U.S. government has no authority to force BP to adopt a different strategy.
5. The President is not legally in charge.

All this leads to a pretty persuasive conclusion:

The President should temporarily take over BP's Gulf operations. We have a national emergency on our hands. No president would allow a nuclear reactor owned by a private for-profit company to melt down in the United States while remaining under the direct control of that company. The meltdown in the Gulf is the environmental equivalent.
While I agree with Reich on just about every count, the question remains: what would Obama be able to practically do differently? I agree that the federal government should be enforcing transparency much more strictly, and think that the federal government commandeering BP's sloppy Gulf operations is probably a good idea at this point.

But I'm not sure it would make a huge difference as far as the practical response is concerned, as Obama and co. have seemed nearly as out of their element as BP (okay, not as far out as the tactless CEO Tony Hayward, but still ...). It's also politically risky for Obama, as it both puts responsibility for the spill containment in his hands, and means he'll be seen taking over another private company (that socialist scoundrel, he).

But it's an interesting idea -- any thoughts out there? Should Obama take over BP?

More on the BP Gulf Oil Spill
Calls Mount for Obama to Oust BP , Take Over Spill Response
Obama's Oil Drama : Video

Tags: Barack Obama | Gulf Oil Spill | Oil | Oil Spill | United States

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