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The Inside Story of How Obama Let the World’s Most Dangerous Oil Company Spiral out of Control

Though George W. Bush paved the way for the catastrophe, it was Obama who gave BP the green light to drill.
 
 
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An extensive new investigation into the Obama administration’s handling of the BP oil spill disaster reveals that it was government mismanagement, delays and absence of oversight that allowed the crisis to spiral out of control. In the article "The Spill, the Scandal, and the President," Rolling Stone’s Tim Dickinson writes, "Though George W. Bush paved the way for the catastrophe, it was Obama who gave BP the green light to drill." Dickinson explores how Interior Secretary Ken Salazar kept in place the oil industry-friendly environmental guidelines that Bush had implemented and ultimately let BP, an oil company with the worst safety record, to get away with murder.

JUAN GONZALEZ: New government estimates have found the BP oil spill may be spewing twice as much oill into the Gulf of Mexico as previously thought. On Thursday, the Flow Rate Technical Group released its new estimate of 25,000 to 30,000 barrels of oil a day based on information gathered last week, before BP installed a new capture device. Some scientists have warned that the flow rate sharply increased after BP cut the pipe, known as the riser, to install the new device last week. The current estimates from the government panel suggest that an amount equivalent to the Exxon Valdez disaster could be flowing into the Gulf of Mexico every eight to ten days. The new numbers were released shortly after a scientist on the Flow Rate Technical Group publicly warned that the oil may be spewing out at a rate of more than 100,000 barrels a day, a figure BP once called its worst-case scenario.

As public anger over BP continues to grow, President Obama was questioned on NBC’s The Today Show earlier this week about why he had not yet directly spoken to BP CEO Tony Hayward. This was his response when asked what he would do if Hayward was a part of his administration.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: He wouldn’t be working for me, after any of those statements. First of all, we’re going to have to find out why this thing went in the first place. And the fact of the matter is, is that there’s going to be a thorough review, and I don’t want to prejudge it. But the initial reports indicate that there may be situations in which not only human error was involved, but you also saw some corner cutting in terms of safety, and that BP is a multibillion-dollar corporation. It’s talking about paying $10.5 billion in dividends just for this quarter. We are going to have to make sure that not only do they shut down the cap, we are not only going to have to make sure that any deep well drilling process that’s out there is, in fact, failsafe and oil companies know what they’re doing, but we also have to make sure that every single person who’s been affected by this is properly compensated and made whole.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, President Obama might now have some harsh words for BP, but an extensive new investigation into his administration’s handling of the disaster reveals it was government mismanagement, delays, and absence of oversight that allowed the crisis to spiral out of control. The article is called "The Spill, the Scandal, and the President." It’s published in the latest Rolling Stone .

Author Tim Dickinson is a political correspondent for Rolling Stone magazine. He writes, quote, "Though George W. Bush paved the way for the catastrophe, it was Obama who gave BP the green light to drill" and explores how Interior Secretary Ken Salazar kept in place the oil industry-friendly environmental guidelines that Bush had implemented and ultimately let BP, an oil company with the worst safety record, to get away with murder. Tim Dickinson joins us from San Francisco. What surprised you most about your investigation?

 
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