May 26th, 2010
08:42 AM ET
5 years ago

Democratic senator says Obama may need to 'take charge' of spill

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, said Wednesday that if BP cannot stop the oil spill today, President Obama must step in and ‘completely take over.’
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, said Wednesday that if BP cannot stop the oil spill today, President Obama must step in and ‘completely take over.’

Washington (CNN) - One of President Obama's fellow Democrats is warning that if BP's latest attempt to stop the oil spill is unsuccessful, the president must take complete control of the increasingly dire situation.

"If this thing is not fixed today, the president doesn't have any choice and he better go in and completely take over, perhaps with the military in charge," Senator Bill Nelson, D-Fla, said in an interview Wednesday with CNN.

"The military has an apparatus, the organization by which it can bring together the civilian agencies of government and to get this thing done." said Nelson.

Nelson's comments reflect growing frustration among lawmakers in Congress – even in the president's own party – that the administration has not done enough to stop the spill and quell the damage.

The Florida Democrat, who has been a long time ardent critic of BP, also said there must be immediate changes at the Minerals Management Service, the agency tasked with overseeing oil drilling that has come under fire for cozy relationships with industry officials and mismanagement.

"I think the president is going to have to have Secretary Salazar clean house in the Minerals Management Service," said Nelson, who accused the agency of letting the oil industry "rule the roost."

Nelson's comments come a day after sharp words to the same effect from moderate Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine.

She told reporters it’s not "practically apparent at all that there is any single person in charge at any level."

"I think it requires the president of the United States amassing all the federal resources to help the governors in those respective states and to make sure this oil spill is contained and solved," said Snowe, "and getting all the people in the room and not just leaving to BP - sort of a trial-and-error approach everyday. And you got to understand who is doing what."


Filed under: Bill Nelson • Energy • President Obama
soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. Rick McDaniel

    Since when, did the government know how to handle a major oil spill, in oceans????

    They would have to pay someone else to handle it......but who?????

    May 26, 2010 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  2. sensible Cape Coral Fl

    The President has to depend on BP for answers. After all, who knows more about the schematics of the well than its builders? What the President has to demand is the truth.

    May 26, 2010 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  3. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    Goody, goody!

    Let Mighty Obama take charge!

    Then he can get all the blame for screwing up the effort.

    No way Obama will take that kind of political risk.

    May 26, 2010 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  4. Mikey

    Yes, this probably should have been done two weeks ago. I wonder if BP will try to absolve itself of any responsiblity for things that happen after the government "takes over" the process. It seems if they are held liable for 100% of the damages caused by this spill, they might be insolvent.

    Anyone else out there think we should not drill another well at a depth greater than that at which we can quickly solve a problem like this? Should we cap all the wells in operation at that depth or greater? Should be move forward at all speed toward reducing demand and increasing renewable supplies?

    May 26, 2010 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  5. Big George in Big D

    Pray tell me why Nelson thinks that Nobama can stop the leak??? Nobama has done nothing but mess up everything he's gotten his hands on!

    May 26, 2010 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  6. Adalbert

    Those who want the government to take charge of the oil spill in the Gulf are a bunch of hypocrites. They do not like government. Government can not do anything right. The free enterprise is the best and so on. Our President and the government have no expertise in this nor dose anyone else. We all have to work on this.

    May 26, 2010 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  7. Sgt. USMC

    I wish people would stop referring to this oil spill as President Obama's katrina. How stupid is that? How can you compare an oil spill which NO ONE has the know-how to stop, to a blatant disregard for human life? We all saw the horrific pictures from katrina THREE F-NG DAYS AFTER THE HURRICANE. bush sat on his butt and watched people DIE. He is and will always be the worst president in HISTORY.

    May 26, 2010 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  8. seebofubar

    Who are you trying to fool? Obama couldnt take charge of a cub scout troop. He's an icompetent sham, and the worst mistake we've ever made. If only we could turn back the hands of time!

    May 26, 2010 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  9. phoenix86

    Obama take charge? That's a laugh.

    May 26, 2010 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  10. gt

    another stupid idea ,,, the government business is not the oil drilling ... another very stupid politian that thinks the government can solve all the worlds problems... get real nelson... get out of the news , it make you look stupid...ugh

    May 26, 2010 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  11. jim

    and yet the republicans keep talking about obama's socialist agenda. if he really had a socialist agenda, he'd have had the government step in immediately.

    clearly the republicans don't know what they are talking about AND they dont' know what they want.

    May 26, 2010 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  12. Glen Mayne

    It seems that is the point of the whole matter. Let the military take over.
    They got the guns but they don't have the sense or the expertise to drill and plug wells. Why not let Exxon take over?

    May 26, 2010 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  13. charlie from the North

    The funny thing is to listen to my friends on the right say he should have "taken over" sooner. Make up your minds people. If he had stepped in right away you would be bellyaching over a "government take-over"

    I swear if the man were to swim to the bottom of the ocean and plug the leak himself by hand you folks would want him arrested for "swimming without permission".

    Honestly whenever I complained about Bush I actually put some thought into it. Y'all could do the same.

    May 26, 2010 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  14. Susan

    The government doesn't have the equipment or the expertise to fix this; BP does and it's their responsibility. I think the REpubs are agitating for Obama to take over just because he won't be able to fix the problem so they can then call him a failure. They've already tried to call this mess "Obama's Katrina", even though government types have been at the site since the beginning (unlike Bush).

    Let BP do its job and pay for it. IF the government takes over, we'll get stuck with the bill.

    May 26, 2010 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  15. katiec

    These politicians can complain, but, as usual have no solutions,. Our government does not have the equipment or background to resolve this situation and what can they do that BP is not already trying?
    Am not defending BP as there should have been back up plans in place, but that is partly our governments fault for not demanding, requiring safety measures.
    It is obvious Minerals Management is in the pocket of the big oil companies, but realize this has been going on for years. Our previous leadership with no regulations, oversight, supporting big business over the welfare of the our country has allowed this diaster to happen.

    May 26, 2010 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  16. awaitingmoderationby CNN

    He does not have the time. He has another tax payer paid vacation to take (his second since the spill), has to raise money for that egotistical slimy Barbara Boxer and still has not gotten all of the money from hard working Americans to give to lazy unions and all of his other dope smoking, non working supporters, In addition to which he has to figure out how now to support his consstitutional responsibilities in defending our borders and how to defend the illegal and unconstitutional Obozocare bill. The man simply does not have time to care about people who may vote Republican, ask the millions affected by the floods in Tennessee. Oh yah, and he has got some Hollywood celebrities visiting him in the White House today. The man is just way to busy.

    May 26, 2010 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  17. nodat1

    All this is in nothing more then a lame smoke and mirrors ploy by our elected officials to redirect final blame. They cannot force their sugar daddies to take responsibility because most of them are paid by BP so they want the military to take over this way they can blame the mean ‘old’ military for any failed attempts to fix the situation and their bed buddies (the oil cartels) can sit back behind the fortress of lawyers and shrug their shoulders and say it not our fault.

    May 26, 2010 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  18. American Patriot -- a "real" tea partier

    The GOP can't say a word against President Obama's handling of the Gulf Oil Crisis. He's been working to help correct it since it happened. It's not like Bush and his "You're doing a helluva job, Brownie" nonsense. Bush completely ignored New Orleans and Mississippi during Hurricane Katrina. Thank goodness this didn't happen on Bush's watch. We would have to completely write of the Gulf of Mexico if it had. Luckily, we have a president how who is trying to get things under control using what resources he has.

    May 26, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  19. Mike Fdez

    You would think the entity behind this spill, BP, would have the technology and know-how to deal with its clean up. Republicans like Rand Paul will jump all over the President if he was to take over the clean up efforts. I agree with my senator, Bill Nelson – We'll give BP one final shot at containing this disaster; if it fails, it's time for Obama to push them out of the way and take COMPLETE control of the situation.

    May 26, 2010 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  20. Larry

    Why don't you fix it Nelson?

    I really believe everything humanly possible is being done to stop the leak.

    May 26, 2010 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  21. RBNH

    The military does not know how to plug a well at a mile under the ocean.

    Think before you speak

    May 26, 2010 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  22. rosaadriana

    I don't think we should let BP off the hook so easily. Also if government takes over duties of a private company, no matter how altruistic the intent, the screams of socialism from the right will be deafening.

    May 26, 2010 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  23. Joe

    Clearly, Senator Nelson is better than Obama who has absolutely no clues what to do and how to deal with this increasing crisis with no-ending in sights. Don't forget that Obama and Dames blasted Bush for not imposing federal interventions for the 1st 3 days after Katrina. Now 5 weeks after the giant oil spill, Obama only pays lip services to the whole crisis. Clearly, Obama is now the most impotent prez in the US history. If Americans know how to go to the moon and won most of Nobel Prizes in the mankind, they will know how to stop the spill.

    May 26, 2010 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  24. GI Joe

    Keep government out of our business.
    Put the government in charge of fixing messes created by businesses.
    -
    We need less government.
    Send more government folks to guard us.
    -
    Cut down on illegals.
    Corporations hire them because they are cheap, but no penalties for corp.
    -
    Cut spending.
    Fix FL, CA, LA (the 3 states with most disasters) over and over and over, but don't raise taxes.
    -

    WHICH IS IT?

    May 26, 2010 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  25. Scottish Mama

    President Obama, Please help the people of Louisiana.
    When you go down on Friday have a plan to stop the disaster and a plan for clean up. With BP., Transocean, and Haliburton picking up the tab for marine life clean up, shoreline clean up, off coast clean up, wildlife clean up and last but not the least making the cajin way of life whole as they know it.
    BP in its last ditch effort filling it with debris does not work, you must take the bull of BP by the horns and take control of the whole disaster.
    You need to find out all the cajin people that are affected.
    Some of these people just troll for them to eat schrimp and fish.
    Please do not be a nice speaker, be a people savior. Talk is cheap and cajin families need answers.
    Please let the American people help this special culture of people. Let all of up know what we can do.
    Come pick me up and I will go with you and organize these people.
    I give cnn permission to e mail me or you can email me. Just get the clean up party started.

    May 26, 2010 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
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