The Gulf of Mexico Bares Ulcers of US Political System

The oil spill on Deepwater Horizon platform in the Gulf of Mexico owned by British Petroleum is threatening to create not only an ecological catastrophe but political tempest as well.

President Barak Obama pulls no punches when talking about the events in the south of the country. In his interview with NBC on June 8 he reminded that he visited the Gulf several times and will be going again soon. He said that he knew exactly who was to blame. He promised the oil company will be punished.

He said he had been there before "most of these talking heads were even paying attention."I don't sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar," the president added. "We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick."

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The President explained that the officials were watching BP’s efforts to eliminate the consequences of the disaster. They also keep an eye on the safety rules and monitor the quality of the products from the disaster area. Obama was asked to comment on a statement made by a BP executive who said that the Gulf was "a big ocean," and "the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to be very, very modest."

"He wouldn't be working for me after any of those statements," said Obama.

Obama tried to convince the audience that the government will make conclusions and do everything possible to improve the quality of life in the regions that suffered the most, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.

"I am absolutely confident that we will overcome this crisis. And I'd really like to make it clear that we will not only contain the damage to Gulf of Mexico. We also use this situation as an opportunity to rethink our approaches, as well as the opportunity to work with state and local authorities to rebuild the coast, so that the quality of life of people in the region has improved as a result ", Obama stated.

In the interview, Obama also acknowledged that the situation for residents of the Gulf was difficult, but said he was confident that the country and the region would recover.

"People from the Gulf Coast ... need help across the country. They will need constant attention from the administration. And they will get it," the President said . He acknowledged that it will not be possible to stop the spill soon. Drilling of a diversion canal alone will take no less than two months.

The disaster that shook the US (and other countries) broke out on April 20. The spill stems from a sea floor oil gusher that followed Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion . The explosion killed 11 platform workers. The platform was burning for a day and a half, and on April 22 it sank. Every day 12 to 24 barrels of oil leak into the ocean, destroying all living organisms in the water. It turned the coast of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as some Florida beaches, into a disaster area.

The tragedy caused immense losses to the residents of these states. Many of them earn living by fishing, but the fish in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico have either died or are soaked in oil to the extent it is no longer edible. Numerous popular beaches were shut down. This does not include the expenses for eliminating the consequences of the spill.

Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen provided sad information on June 8. In his words, the process of stopping the leak will take until the fall. It will take years to purify the water, the bottom of the ocean and coastal areas. Hundreds of kilometers of the coast were contaminated.

On Monday BP stated that it allocated over 1 billion dollars to fight the consequences of the accident. Americans are not satisfied with it.

The polls conducted on June 7 by ABC and Washington Post say that the majority of the US people believe that the government has to criminally prosecute those responsible for the accident.

Americans are not happy with the actions of the government either. They think the government is not as efficient as it could be.

The events in the Gulf of Mexico may seriously affect the US domestic political scene. Five years ago George W. Bush’s inability to deal with the consequences of Katrina caused his approval ratings to drop significantly. The spill is a test for the current President.

The events in the Gulf of Mexico have revealed the imperfections of the US political and economical system. Businesses here have much more freedom than in Europe, Japan or even in Canada, and government control over the actions of businesses is much weaker. Ecological legislation is not as strict as in Scandinavia, Great Britain or Canada.

American officials used to explain it with the necessity to maintain the reputation of the US as a country where business is free. Is the price of the freedom of entrepreneurship too high? Now people in the Gulf of Mexico will have to pay for years for someone’s American dream.

Vadim Trukhachev

Read the original in Russian

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov