White House Criticized For Moving Slowly On Spill
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
Cokie, good morning.
COKIE ROBERTS: Good morning, Steve.
INSKEEP: Some people are asking if this disaster is President Obama's equivalent of Hurricane Katrina. Is that a fair comparison?
ROBERTS: It is interesting to me, Steve, that some of the people who are calling for that response - including Louisiana's Republican governor and one of the senators - are the same people who've been saying the federal government does too much these days. So, you know, it all depends on where you're sitting.
INSKEEP: Also, we've got a dilemma, I suppose, because the people who've been saying drill, baby, drill - the president's critics are now the people who would be criticizing him for the response to this.
ROBERTS: But, you know, the president is now trying - he had his Secretary of Interior, Homeland Security, Thad Allen from the Coast Guard out assuring everyone yesterday that the government is doing everything - the Department of Defense, Interior, Environmental Protection, NOAA, along with the Coast Guard, 1,900 federal workers out there. So they are really trying to get out the story.
INSKEEP: And what does this spill mean for this region to which you have very close ties?
ROBERTS: And some analyses of the possible economic impact are absolutely devastating. That's the reason, by the way, that this government study of the accident is so important, because we did learn after Katrina the fact that the levies failed was a man-made cause. And people have been able to collect money as a result of that. So a study in the cause of this accident will be terribly important to the people of the region.
INSKEEP: Do people along the Gulf Coast have a big of a love-hate relationship with the energy industry?
ROBERTS: Well, sure, because a lot of people work in the energy industry and need it to survive and have good pay and good lives. But then when you have something like this, you've got the tremendous danger to the fisheries, to the beaches, to - and some analyses say to the whole country, that if the spill gets into the Gulf Stream, that the whole country can be affected.
INSKEEP: So will the oil industry become the new bad guys, replacing perhaps the finance industry?
ROBERTS: Secretary Salazar said yesterday that we have to keep the boot on the neck of British Petroleum. It could have an impact on the energy bill that has been languishing in the Senate, Steve. So, you know, the affect of all of this is really going to be a long time assessing.
INSKEEP: Okay. Thanks very much. Always a pleasure to hear from NPR's Cokie Roberts.
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