Relief Wells Are 'Permanent Solution' To Oil Spill, Energy Czar Tells NPR : The Two-Way Energy Czar Carol Browner talks to NPR's Renee Montagne.
NPR logo Relief Wells Are 'Permanent Solution' To Oil Spill, Energy Czar Tells NPR

Relief Wells Are 'Permanent Solution' To Oil Spill, Energy Czar Tells NPR

White House "Energy Czar" Carol Browner. Roger L. Wollenberg-Pool/Getty Images hide caption

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Roger L. Wollenberg-Pool/Getty Images

White House "Energy Czar" Carol Browner.

Roger L. Wollenberg-Pool/Getty Images

President Obama's so-called "Energy Czar" defended the way the administration has handled, and continues to handle, the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, insisting that everyone is trying everything to stop it.

"We're going to get this thing closed, whatever it takes," Carol M. Browner, the director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, told NPR's Renee Montagne.

In an interview with NPR, which aired on Morning Edition today, Browner echoed what the president said at a news conference last week: BP is not in charge of the spill response. The federal government is.

"It's important for people to understand that BP cannot do anything without the administration's agreement," she said. "If an idea is put forward that our brain trust -- our scientists -- are not comfortable with, they are told that. And they do not proceed."

Browner was unambiguous about the dynamics of the government's relationship with the energy company.

"We're not partners," she said. "Because at the end of the day, we get to decide what happens."

This is not BP, sitting in a room by themselves, developing some sort of proposal. We see all the background to the proposal. We see all the analysis to the proposal. And then we do our own analysis before making a judgment.

The administration and BP believe that two relief wells, currently being drilled, will stop the leak.

"These relief wells are the permanent solution to the problem," Browner told Montagne.

Initially, BP had planned to drill a single relief well. According to Browner, the administration insisted the company drill two.

"They made the proposal for the first well, and we immediately said we want a second well," she said. "And once they were directed to do that, they moved forward."

The relief wells will take almost three months to finish. To work, they'll have to intersect the existing, leaking well, which is only inches wide.

According to Browner, administration officials and scientists continue to look for new tools, to see if there is anything that hasn't been tried before that could work.

"This is a devastating situation," she said. "It's the worst environmental disaster this country has ever faced. Clearly, we are learning things."