Even as Republicans try, somehow, to make the Gulf oil spill disaster “Obama’s Katrina,” the evidence of actual responsibility is pointing in a very different direction: right at former Vice President, Halliburton executive, and self-appointed czar of All Things Petroleum, Dick Cheney.
TDS Co-Editor William Galston has an important piece up on the New Republic site today marshaling the evidence for Cheney’s culpability for BP’s failure to utilize a device that would have largely prevented the disaster, which was required by federal authorities prior to 2003.
So here’s my question: what is responsible for the [Mineral Management Service’s] change of heart between 2000 and 2003 on the crucial issue of requiring a remote control switch for offshore rigs? What we do know is that unfettered oil drilling was to Dick Cheney’s domestic concerns what the invasion of Iraq was to his foreign policy—a core objective, implacably pursued regardless of the risks. Is there a connection between his infamous secret energy task force and the corrupt mindset that came to dominate a key program within MMS? Would $500,000 per rig have been regarded as an unacceptably expensive insurance policy if a drill-baby-drill administration hadn’t placed its thumb so heavily on the scale?
As Galston notes, it’s indisputable that Halliburton was responsible for the drilling process, known as “cementing,” that appears to have led to the Gulf spill, and to previous spills elsewhere. And it raises new questions about the conflicts of interest involved in the secretive energy policy process that Cheney set up as vice president, which really got into the weeds of the oil drilling business.
So let’s don’t hear any more about “Obama’s Katrina” until we’ve figured out whether the man who so often declared Barack Obama unfit for the presidency might have played a tangible role in making this disaster happen.