President Obama speaks out about cozy relationship between the government and the oil industry

Posted By: Selma Al-Faqih on May 27, 2010 11:19 am

President Obama on oil spill: “I take responsibility.”

Today BP is putting into place it’s ‘top kill’ effort, which a 60 to 70% chance of working.  So far it does seem to be working, but experts remain cautiously optimistic.

This is a bit of switch from the earlier tact that the government was closely watching BP, but that BP had the expertise to deal with the situation. 6 weeks into the worst oil spill in U.S. history, the president has changed his approach.

“I take responsibility. It is my job to make sure that everything is done to shut this down,” Obama declared at a news conference in the East Room of the White House.
He called the spill, now in its sixth week, an “unprecedented disaster” and blasted a “scandalously close relationship” he said has persisted between Big Oil and government regulators, as reported by AP.

Obama went on to comment that the ‘cozy relationship’ between the oil industry and the government did not change when he came into office. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar “came in and started cleaning house. But the culture had not fully changed at MMS. And surely I take responsibility for that.”


Sunlight illuminated the lingering oil slick off the Mississippi Delta on May 24, 2010. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this imag.

The president said that this issue is what he wakes up to in the morning, and what he takes with him to bed at night. He said he wants it knows that from the first moment of this crisis, it has been ‘our top priority.’

As reported by the Washington Post, under intense pressure, the top oil regulator at the Department of Interior had been forced out.

Elizabeth Birnbaum, the director of the U.S. Minerals Management Service, was given the opportunity to work elsewhere in the government but resigned instead, officials said.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, praised her as “a strong and effective person and leader” and said she “resigned today on her own terms and on her own volition.”

In a joint statement with Salazar, Birnbaum said she was “hopeful that the reforms that the Secretary and the Administration are undertaking will resolve the flaws in the current system that I inherited.”