White House, BP unprepared for relationship in wake of oil spill
By The Post's Juliet Eilperin:
Within hours of the massive April 20 explosion on Deepwater Horizon, the U.S. government launched an urgent and carefully managed response to demonstrate its control of the emerging disaster, sending Coast Guard ships to the site, keeping the president informed and posting projections of how an oil spill might affect travel.
What the Obama administration did not realize was how the arcane world of offshore drilling would soon collide with official Washington as politicians began kibitzing about rig mechanisms on Sunday talk shows and oil executives gave daily briefings about their disaster management skills. Nor did the administration likely have any idea that it would find itself in many ways dependent on a foreign oil company -- both foe and needed friend in the response.
It was a relationship for which neither the White House nor BP was well prepared. And it stands in marked contrast to the arm's length distance that the U.S. government kept from Exxon after the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989. Thomas A. Campbell, who served as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's general counsel at the time, said it would have been politically toxic for the government to collaborate: "We weren't able to even talk to Exxon, except on purely technical issues."
| May 13, 2010; 11:44 AM ET
Categories: Administration, From The Pages of The Post
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