Who told Obama deep-sea drilling was “absolutely safe”?

posted at 11:36 am on June 18, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Byron York gives us a great whodunit today, and actually a second Obamateurism of the Day.  In his speech on Tuesday, Obama defended his earlier decision to expand off-shore drilling because he had been told that such activity was “absolutely safe.”  If Obama actually believed that, then a few people would like to sell him a bridge or two:

There was one particularly striking moment in President Obama’s widely panned Oval Office speech on the Gulf oil disaster. About midway through his talk, Obama acknowledged that he had approved new offshore drilling a few weeks before the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion on April 20. But Obama said he had done so only “under the assurance that it would be absolutely safe.”

Absolutely safe? Even before the Gulf spill, few defenders of offshore drilling would go that far. And when the president announced his drilling plan, on March 31, he said it was “not a decision that I’ve made lightly” and that he and his advisers had “looked at [it] closely for more than a year.” Surely he was told of the possible risks.

“If you can find anything that’s absolutely safe, I sure want to find out about it,” says Robert Bea, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California at Berkeley. “There is no engineering system that I am aware of that has zero likelihood of failure.”

“We can never be absolutely safe,” adds Ken Arnold, an independent consultant to the oil and gas industry. “The only way you can be absolutely certain of being absolutely safe is to shut down all production and all drilling from offshore today.”

Every engineering endeavor entails some risk.  Even mass production of “green” energy has its risks to the people involved and the environment in which it is conducted.  Any time pipes carry anything under high pressure across any kind of distance, risks exist on breakages, spills, and contamination.

York tries to don his Sherlock Holmes’ deerstalker hat and Inverness cape, but finds a number of people denying that they told Obama any such thing.  Obama’s Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who won the Nobel Prize as Obama reminded everyone again on Tuesday, says through his spokesperson that it’s not his department and referred York to Ken Salazar, who hasn’t won anything but big Stetsons.  Salazar and Interior gave York the silent treatment, as did Carol Browner, the director of the administration’s energy and climate-change policy.

However, York does finally blow the lid off of this mystery:

Of course, there’s a third possibility. Since the Deepwater Horizon explosion, Obama has taken a lot of heat from liberals who never liked his pro-drilling decision in the first place. Maybe he used the words “absolutely safe” to deflect blame and make himself look a little better in retrospect.

Most whodunits end with a confession anyway.  Either Obama is lying about being told that off-shore drilling was “absolutely safe,” or he was foolish enough to believe it when someone sold him that line.  Neither makes Obama look very good.


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Comment pages: 1 2

Look you racists – it doesn’t matter who told him. He was told and so therefore “it’s not his fault”. Rumors persist that it was those evil twins, Bush and Cheney.
katablog.com on June 18, 2010 at 12:49 PM

Well du-uh.

To people who believe that every black man is congenitally incapable of questioning the word of any white man – then OF COURSE it can’t be Obama’s fault. According to self-proclaimed “non-racist” liberals, he never had any choice in the matter; he was just following his genetic programming the way all creatures do.

logis on June 18, 2010 at 1:23 PM

Or should we believe they just lucky?

Steve Z on June 18, 2010 at 1:12 PM

Well it was a foreign owned rig, and not an American owned rig that exploded. I’m guessing BP was being given special exemptions. ;)

capejasmine on June 18, 2010 at 1:27 PM

Bureaucratic decision-making processes have a tendency to take shades of grey conditions and turn them into black-and-white, because, at some point, somebody has to make a go or no-go decision. The more levels of bureaucracy you have, the more likely the subtleties and implications of the situation will be lost in the shuffle and the higher-ups will be clueless about the risks they’re taking. That’s what happened in NASA with the Challenger and Colombia disasters, and it’s certainly possible that happened here. Not that any of that excuses their ignorance, since the ones at the top are the very same people who built their bureaucracy that way.

Or, Obama could be just making shit up.

Socratease on June 18, 2010 at 1:27 PM

Does it matter anyway? It’s not like his “pro drilling” decision was actually a pro-drilling decision.

xblade on June 18, 2010 at 2:25 PM

Every engineering endeavor entails some risk

No, everything in life entails risk. That’s the cost of living. Without it, we would just live in a hazy twilight, barely aware of our own existence.

Anyone who thinks we can, or should even try to achieve “absolute safety” in anything, is ignorant of the law of diminishing returns and is living in a fantasy world.

Anyone who tells you they can do that is lying and only wants you to relinquish control of your life to them.

RadClown on June 18, 2010 at 3:09 PM

Hey, I’ve got a great idea…!

Let’s elect Barack Hussein Obowma as President of the United States!

… Who’s with me?

Seven Percent Solution on June 18, 2010 at 3:16 PM

It was probably those little voices in his head telling him that drilling was safe… the ones named ‘Rahm’ and ‘Axelrod’ as Obama is post-modern and doesn’t need a better and worse self, an angel and a devil… just worse and horrific. Soon he will hear Ftagn! and then things get really interesting.

ajacksonian on June 18, 2010 at 3:26 PM

Hey, I’ve got a great idea…!

Let’s elect Barack Hussein Obowma as President of the United States!

… Who’s with me?

Seven Percent Solution on June 18, 2010 at 3:16 PM

(The sound of crickets chirping.)

Jarhead68 on June 18, 2010 at 5:26 PM

Skittle sh!tting unicorns are absolutely safe. At least, that’s what experts tell me.

bitsy on June 18, 2010 at 5:57 PM

So who did tell Obama it was “absolutely safe”?
So what’s the timeline?
2009

February – BP files a 52 page exploration and environmental impact plan for the Macondo well with the MMS. The plan stated that it was “unlikely that an accidental surface or subsurface oil spill would occur from the proposed activities.

The Department of the Interior exempted BP’s Gulf of Mexico drilling operation from
The decision by the department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) to give BP’s lease at Deepwater Horizon a “categorical exclusion” from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on April 6, 2009 — and BP’s lobbying efforts just 11 days before the explosion to expand those exemptions — show that neither federal regulators nor the company anticipated an accident of the scale of the one unfolding in the gulf.

Okay, so that narrows the search considerably.
Start date February 2009. Obama president
We have a date of the “categorical exclusion” from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) April 6, 2009. Obama president.

We have a department, Minerals Management Service (MMS), under Obama’s Department of the Interior. Ken Salazar.

So its obvious Bush, who wasn’t there, the man the Dems portrayed as the dumbest man on the planet told Obama the smartest man on the planet that drilling in 5000ft was absolutely safe.

DSchoen on June 18, 2010 at 7:10 PM

Here’s a new question for the next Presidential debate.

If you find yourself standing on a train tract and you hear the sound of the train, you see the head light of the train; the train is head straight to you
You should

A) Propose a commission to study why trains run on tracts.

B) Consult with other Nobel Prize winners on the idea of a train Czar.

C) Blame Bush for allowing trains to run on tracts.

D) Get your a$$ off the frigging tracts.

DSchoen on June 18, 2010 at 7:22 PM

What you try to do is make the cost of the risk of doing the job less than the cost of not doing the job. Usually that is easy. And cost CAN include the loss of the expected income from the results of doing the job.

Somebody seriously flubbed his trade-offs by underestimating the worst case situation and its likelihood.

{^_^}

herself on June 19, 2010 at 4:33 AM

Here’s a new question for the next Presidential debate.

If you find yourself standing on a train tract and you hear the sound of the train, you see the head light of the train; the train is head straight to you
You should

A) Propose a commission to study why trains run on tracts.

B) Consult with other Nobel Prize winners on the idea of a train Czar.

C) Blame Bush for allowing trains to run on tracts.

D) Call Bush, at least he’ll tell you to get your a$$ off the frigging tracts.

DSchoen on June 18, 2010 at 7:22 PM

Updated boldly by me…
-
In order from 1 to 4 (sic)…
-
C.
B.
A.
C.
-
Under no circumstance should it even be implied that Bush might have a correct answer… To anything.
/lib tard
-
P.S… After the train runs you over it’s perfectly acceptable, and even expected that you blame Bush again./lib tard again
-

RalphyBoy on June 19, 2010 at 12:11 PM

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