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Oil spill: Officials dispatched again

By Ed O'Keefe

Colleague Karen Tumulty nailed the Obama administration's new dilemma in today's Post, noting that the White House is dealing with the "delicate challenge of management and message" as it addresses the April 20 BP oil spill and the thwarted Times Square bombing.

A dead sea turtle lays on the beach in Pass Christian, Miss. on Monday. (AP)

The crises pose a series of tricky questions for the administration, Tumulty writes: How can officials convey a sense that they are on top of a rapidly changing situation? Must they set aside other business on their agenda to reassure the public that they are fully engaged, or does that make them look rattled? Which words must be said -- and which avoided?

The administration is answering the first question by publishing a lengthy timeline of spill-related decisions and events and once again deploying senior officials to the Gulf Coast to inspect the federal response. The pictures, pressers and assurances to local officials will provide fodder for the cameras and the locals as the region waits for the spill's potential impact.

Let's check the schedule:

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar plans to tour wildlife refuges in Alabama and Louisiana and other areas already impacted by the spill, according to the Interior Department.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco and EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe will head back on Thursday and will team up for visits to Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Napolitano, Locke and Lubchenco will inspect operations in Biloxi, Miss., the White House said. Then Napolitano and Locke break off and head to Pensacola, Fla., while Lubchenco and White House environmental czar Nancy Sutley travel to Pascagoula, Miss., to visit NOAA's seafood inspection lab.

Perciasepe will head to Louisiana to check in on his agency's air and water monitoring activities and meet with local folks, according to White House guidance.

Lubchenco and Sutley plan to visit Venice and St. Bernard Parish, La., to inspect the cleanup efforts there and meet with local officials.

As for whether the administration should set aside other business, it appears the answer is no: The president will sign a veterans' health-care bill this afternoon with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki at his side, Vice President Biden is going to Belgium and Spain for security meetings, and the White House appears to be prepping for the announcement of a Supreme Court nominee.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

ALSO: Government scholar Paul Light calls on Secretary Napolitano to step down

By Ed O'Keefe  | May 5, 2010; 1:57 PM ET
Categories:  Administration, Agencies and Departments  
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Oil drilling is not rocket science - but we need to treat it with the same commitment for safety. We have lost astronauts, too, but we did not give up our space program. We examined the problem and came up with solutions. A faulty O-Ring and freezing temperatures at Cape Kennedy were responsible for one disaster.

This BP oil drilling disaster is far worse than losing a space shuttle. The Florida Keys are going to be ruined, including the only live coral reef left in the continental US. The entire eastern seaboard may have BP souvenirs and reminders of little or no government oversight.

We should not give up oil drilling, but we need a safety commitment equal to NASA. If we can't get our act together, we will have more disasters. This is not just a failure of BP Oil, it is also a failure of our federal government. Heads should roll and our government needs to accept responsibility and take corrective action.

We cannot trust industry to act for the public good. Children's Tylenol was being manufactured without concern for safety. People were killed because the FDA did not inspect peanut butter factories. There is a role for our government to protect us - and if it doesn't more heads should roll. The flurry of government heads flying over this eco-disaster are in CYA mode.

Posted by: alance | May 5, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Why hasn't anyone even tried to aquarium some of the species slated for extinction in the Gulf?

Why hasn't anyone begun to collect the bird and plant species to grow after the tarpit has settled down in 50 years or so?
When a catastrophic earth event (manmade), takes place that wipes out entire species, do we repeat history and just be too slow and blind to what has occured?

Department of Interior should confiscate Napolitano's new building and make it a new Gulf Aquarium to preserve what will soon die like a Noah's ark.

They have been slow on everything, but this one is running out of time as they dither.

Posted by: dottydo | May 5, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

That faint rumbling sound you hear in the distance is Theodore Roosevelt doing somersaults in his grave.

But for something called an "acoustic regulator" this catastrophe might very well have been avoided. That device was deemed too expensive by BIG OIL and the Bush/Cheney administration allowed it to be discarded.

The price? A half a million dollars.

Andy Hardy: Dad, can I talk to you, man-to-man?

Judge Hardy: What is it, son?

Andy Hardy: I'm starting to think that deregulation wasn't a really neat idea.

Judge Hardy: No s**t, Sherlock!

Some are calling this "Obama's Katrina". They're wrong. As a matter of fact it's not even close. This disaster is owned by George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney. Make no mistake about it.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Posted by: tomdeganfrontiernetnet | May 6, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

I find it interesting that many have jumped to the conclusion that the turtles were killed by the oil spill. So far none of the dead turtles have been found to have ingested oil. It appears they were killed when they were caught in shrimpers' nets prior to the spill.
I was raised on the Gulf Coast and we frequently found turtle skeletons on the beach. I also know that sea life (big shrimp especially) thrive around the oil wells in the Gulf.
The spill is certainly a disaster and BP needs to pay for its carelessness, if that turns out to be the cause of the spill. However, let's not let panic and hysteria cause us to shut down the direly needed oil that is being produced off all of our coasts.

Posted by: bishopcm | May 6, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

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