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. Duck Fallas

    Maybe they can stick Nelson's head in the pipe.

    May 26, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  2. Charles W. Skinner

    Mmmm.... The sweet sound of Liberals eating their own. I wonder when the press and pundits will get around to accusing Sec. Salazar of being incompetent and calling for his resignation due to his botched handling of this tragedy. Oh, wait, they don't have enough character to treat a member of a Democrat administration the same way they treated Sec. Brown after hurricane Katrina when that Democrat has arguably bungled the response worse.

    May 26, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  3. No Incumbents 2010

    The Obama oil spill keeps getting worse. Instead of drilling in ANWR and on federal lands we are stuck with higher oil prices, imported oil and high-risk deepwater wells.

    May 26, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  4. A Kickin' Donkey

    Where is Russelll Honoree? He'd kick some BP butt.

    May 26, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  5. Ron in California

    The Obama Administration neeeds to do moe than sit on the sidelines beating up BP...even though they deserve it. Jindal has asked for permission to build barriers and the EPA is stuck doing nothing while the oil comes ashore. Obama only needs to isssue an executive order. Where are all the environmental groups??? I'd expect they would be up in Arms...Do something.

    May 26, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  6. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    I don't see what the federal government can do that BP already isn't. The most the President can do is make sure all resources of the federal government are working on this matter. MMS needs to be regulated to ensure Americans that they aren't in bed with the oil companies. That is the biggest conflict of interest.

    May 26, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  7. lcpl johnson

    if a company that is primarily interested in oil, has the best oil experts in the world at hand and has countless oil related resources at hand what makes you think congressmen or the president whom have NO experience with such a situation can handle it any better?

    every day bp is looking at millions of dollars spilling away. the loss of that oil hurts them just as much as it hurts the public. it is in their best interest to solve the problem as quickly as possible. its foolish to believe that they are not doing everything they can to stop the leak. to them its like watching a mountain of money be lit on fire, every minute they let the fire burn more of their money gets destroyed.

    May 26, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  8. Ben in Texas

    What kind of socialist is Obama, anyway? A real socialist would have nationalized the oil companies by now, and Obama doesn't even take over the plugging and cleanup operation. This guy must really be evil! He has also sneakily evaded gun control and single-payer health care. That's how we know he is really a commie! Only a commie would be so sneaky, hiding his radical agenda behind seemingly middle-of-the-road actions.

    Before you know it, he will be forcing free enterprise down our throats! What a scary thought!

    May 26, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  9. jay in denver

    Maybe we should employ the Bush Doctrine to effect "regime change" at BP. Don't see how the Conservatards could argue with that. After all, we'd just be "liberating" all the marine life in the Gulf, bringing freedom from death and oppression.

    May 26, 2010 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  10. Fair is Fair

    If Obama "takes control", it means he will also have to "take responsibilty". So it's not going to happen.

    May 26, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  11. TH - ATL Conservative

    Mr. Nelson, what is it exactly that you think Barack Hussein Obama can do to stop the oil leak? Based on all the media attention, Obama has had control of the situation since the beginning. I suppose you think the "anointed one" can perform miracles no one else can, huh?

    May 26, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  12. lila

    Does Obama have the power to over take a company like that and bypass them? Should not congress pass a bill or something that allows Obama to have that power? I'm not sure what Obama can do anything he has not done. Obama has given all our national resources to help fix the leak. Should Obama send out a mayday to other countries for help? Maybe? This spill seems like it could turn our ocean into a dead sea. The republicans are saying accidents happen.. well, if you give a baby a gun, you can say the same thing. Obama needs to call for all deeo sea oil rigs to have that remote control shut off safety switch off.. like now. All of them. Shell has a sister rig just like the one BP had.. and that rig design has a flaw. Congress and Obama must learn from this spill... they must.. or it will be the end for democrats. That's all I know.. and I know that well.

    May 26, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  13. Dano

    Being from Florida I share Senator Nelson's concern about getting the spill stopped, but I just don't know what the federal government can do – short of blowing up the well – that BP hasn't already tried. I would hope this disaster opens everyones eyes to the danger these wells represent and that much stricter oversight and more safety features become the law to prevent this from ever happening again.

    May 26, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  14. johnkc

    If the government takes over the leaking BP oil well, this will be more fodder for the republicans that boast that Obama is trying to take over the private sector. They claim he took over the health, banking, automotive industry and now is trying to take over the energy industry. These people want the government to stay out of private industry, so all those people along the gulf that said: "Drill Baby Drill", should now pay the consequences, and let private industry clean it up.

    May 26, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  15. lila

    Obama must have all deep sea oil rig have the remote control safety switch like other countries do. He must call for it now before the sister rig that has the same design flaw repeats this nightmare. I mean it. Obama has that power and it would be a wise thing for him to call for. Like NOW.

    May 26, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  16. Robert

    NO! Those red states are getting exactly what they want. Off-shore drilling and minimal government involvement in the private business sector. BP and our health insurance companies have our best interests at heart right?

    May 26, 2010 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  17. Dean

    If it was Bush who had waited this long he would have been lynched by the press and all liberals.

    May 26, 2010 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  18. Capt. Snarky

    Irregardless of whether it works, this is Obama's spill. Much the same as Katrina was Bush's millstone, this will be Obama's.......

    May 26, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  19. Dan Holiday

    Ya think? He should have done this starting "day one". I guess when you are hanging out with you Mexican friends, Hollywood friends, and taking vacations, it is hard to fit national worries into your schedule. Worst president ever! ! ! !

    May 26, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  20. Isaac

    BP stands for British Petroleum. So where is Britain in all of this? Why is it all up to US to clean it up?

    May 26, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  21. Pam

    If now, when?
    If todays efforts fail the President must take over. Even if the oil does not reach our shores where is it going and how mush damage will thr unseen iol do to our oceans?
    Please President Obama...stop this. It has been a month and it is past time.
    This will be your Katrina if you don't act now.

    May 26, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  22. Get a Grip

    The last thing this country needs is for Oblamer to take charge of anything...including this oil spill. You think it's bad now, just let Oblamer's administration take over and they will make a horrible situation only more horrible.

    Over the last twenty years BP had donated over $3.5 million to campaigns....and Obama's campaign receiving the largest of all....in the sum of $77,051 and we're to believe that Oblamer has our best interest at heart.......I don't think so.

    May 26, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  23. thor

    Obama actually taking on responsibility for something would be refreshing-not going to happen.He needs a villian to blame for this and oil companies fit the part.He wants this to get a lot worse so politically he can advance his call for more so called green energy.Never mind what environmental damage could be done with nuclear power plants all over the country .And he hasn't answered what happens to all the nuclear waste created by them.

    May 26, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  24. nookly23

    What can the feds do? I hear people screaming that the government should take over, but hear no answers to what they can do. If the feds had an option, they would have used it. Well, then again, this is Obama and he has shown time and agin he does not care what happens to the American public as a whole, uless of course they are union members and black professors at Harvard.

    May 26, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  25. Deborah/KansasCity

    I can see trying to take over the clean up, if there is a plan that will work. Some of these politicians on TV complaining and griping, seem to have some 1/2 baked plans that could make matters worse. I do think that more could be done about the clean up, but as far a plugging the leak, some of these Politicians plans could make things much worse, blowing a bigger whole, instead of stopping the leak.

    May 26, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
1 2 3