America

Obama Regains Footing After Early Slips On Rogue BP Oil

Barack Obama

With news that BP's rogue oil well was "killed" and most of the escaped oil was accounted for, President Barack Obama had many reasons to smile. Charles Dharapak/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Charles Dharapak/AP

As has been widely reported Wednesday, federal experts reported that most of the oil that spewed into the Gulf of Mexico from the broken BP well, about 75 percent of the estimated four to five billion barrels that gushed out, is accounted for.

The Obama Administration issued a report spelling out the conclusion of scientists across the government. A key paragraph:

In summary, it is estimated that burning, skimming and direct recovery from the wellhead removed one quarter (25%) of the oil released from the wellhead. One quarter (25%) of the total oil naturally evaporated or dissolved, and just less than one quarter (24%) was dispersed (either naturally or as a result of operations) as microscopic droplets into Gulf waters.

The residual amount — just over one quarter (26%) — is either on or just below the surface as light sheen and weathered tar balls, has washed ashore or been collected from the shore, or is buried in sand and sediments. Oil in the residual and dispersed categories is in the process of being degraded. The report below describes each of these categories and calculations. These estimates will continue to be refined as additional information becomes available.FigureIn summary, it is estimated that burning, skimming and direct recovery from the wellhead removed one quarter (25%) of the oil released from the wellhead. One quarter (25%) of the total oil naturally evaporated or dissolved, and just less than one quarter (24%) was dispersed (either naturally or as a result of operations) as microscopic droplets into Gulf waters. The residual amount — just over one quarter (26%) — is either on or just below the surface as light sheen and weathered tar balls, has washed ashore or been collected from the shore, or is buried in sand and sediments. Oil in the residual and dispersed categories is in the process of being degraded. The report below describes each of these categories and calculations. These estimates will continue to be refined as additional information becomes available.

This allowed President Barack Obama to claim that, if the long national nightmare wasn't completely over, it was close to being so.

In a speech to the AFL-CIO, he said:

One place in our country where people have faced particular struggles in the last few months is in the Gulf of Mexico as a result of the BP oil spill.  So it was very welcome news when we learned overnight that efforts to stop the well through what’s called a “static kill” appear to be working — and that a report out today by our scientists show that the vast majority of the spilled oil has been dispersed or removed from the water.  So the long battle to stop the leak and contain the oil is finally close to coming to an end.  And we are very pleased with that.  (Applause.)

Our recovery efforts, though, will continue.  We have to reverse the damage that’s been done, we will continue to work to hold polluters accountable for the destruction they’ve caused, we’ve got to make sure that folks who were harmed are reimbursed, and we’re going to stand by the people of the region however long it takes until they’re back on their feet.

While clearly not saying the crisis had ended, the administration clearly wanted to communicate the sense to Americans Wednesday that it was nearly so.

The relief wasn't only in the states bordering the Gulf but the White House since as long as BP failed to contain the gusher, it contributed to an image, fairly or unfairly, of the president as ineffective and gave his Republican opposition an opening to attack him.

It also allowed the White House to regain its footing after what many critics saw as early slips in its management of the crisis.

Finally, the White House had significant successes in the anti-gusher war to talk about. For the president, who celebrated his birthday Thursday, it was one of the best birthday gifts he could have received.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.