June 10th, 2010
02:29 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama says laws must be updated after oil disaster

 President Obama calls for pollution laws to be improved.
President Obama calls for pollution laws to be improved.

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama said Thursday that the ongoing oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has highlighted the inadequacy of current environmental pollution laws, and urged Congress to move forward with a series of changes in an "aggressive, forward-leaning way."

He made his remarks during a White House meeting with the bipartisan congressional leadership.

"At the top of our list was our continued response to the crisis in the Gulf," Obama said at the end of the meeting. "We had a frank conversation about the fact that the laws that have been in place have not been adequate for a crisis of this magnitude."

The president specifically mentioned the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which Democrats have strongly criticized for imposing a $75 million oil spill liability cap.


The law "was passed at a time when people didn't envision drilling four miles under the sea for oil," Obama said. "And so it's going to be important that ... we update the laws to make sure that the people in the Gulf, the fishermen, the hotel owners, families who are dependent for their livelihoods in the Gulf, that they are all made whole and that we are in a much better position to respond to any such crisis in the future."

Obama used the Gulf crisis to promote his alternative energy agenda, which is still bogged down in Congress.

It is "my personal belief that we have to move on an energy agenda that is forward-looking, that creates jobs, that assures that we are leaders in solar, wind and biodiesel," he said. "We are going to still be using oil and we're still going to be using other fossil fuels, but ... we have to start planning now ... so that we end up being leaders in our energy future."

The president was also slated to discuss his energy plans with a group of business leaders Thursday afternoon. In addition, he was scheduled to meet with relatives of the workers who were killed in the April 20 BP oil rig explosion in the Gulf.


Filed under: Energy • President Obama
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Jerome

    Many, many laws need to be updated.

    June 10, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  2. GI Joe

    One of our legislators, Boehner, is waiting for someone else to "fix the law". Maybe Boehner should be replaced with someone willing to work and earn the money being paid by taxpayers.

    Let's put a "fixer" in to replace Boehner.

    June 10, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    Uh oh...he wants more regulations...here's the "proof" all the Limbots think they needed for their claims that the disaster was caused by environmentalist terrorists trying to push the "global warming scam" so Al Gore can sell more books. Idiots.

    June 10, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  4. Augsbee

    Why doesn't he first make sure everyone has a job now, a roof over their heads, food on the table then worry about being the leaders in solar, wind and biodiesel. "Start planning now" doesn't not pay the bills now for many going through financial struggles.

    June 10, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  5. grrace

    I hope one of the first questions is HOW DEEP IS TOO DEEP? This oil well is called the "EVEREST", because it is over 35,000 deep. Second question, how many is too many? After 35,000 wells drilled, perhaps the Gulf has reached her limit.

    June 10, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  6. PalmReader

    Not if the GOPers have their way, Mr. President. Just listen to Boehner spout his talking points, sidestepping the issues, and DEMANDING you do exactly what THEY want.

    Wonder what kind of disaster it would take to bring this group of HELL NOers to the defense of middle class Americans. So far, the GOP has been quite vocal in their demands against mainstream voters. . .

    Health Care reform: HELL NO. Auto Industry reform: HELL NO. Wall Street reform: HELL NO. Jobs creation: HELL NO. Unemployment extensions: HELL NO. Immigration reform: HELL NO. Air Pollution reform: HELL NO. Oil industry reform: HELL NO.

    I'm sure I've probably missed a few more GOPer HELL NO's - but, to be clear, all those HELL NO's do start blending in with one another after awhile.

    June 10, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  7. Mark from Louisiana

    The gulf crises maybe wouldn't be nearly as bad if obama had taken up the Netherlands on the offer they made 3 days after the blowout. They offered ships and huge skimmers, each skimmer could process five million gallons of seawater a day and they offered to send four. At no charge. And what happened?

    Three days after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, the Dutch government offered to help.

    It was willing to provide ships outfitted with oil-skimming booms, and it proposed a plan for building sand barriers to protect sensitive marshlands.

    The response from the Obama administration and BP, which are coordinating the cleanup: “The embassy got a nice letter from the administration that said, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’” said Geert Visser, consul general for the Netherlands in Houston.

    Now, almost seven weeks later, as the oil spewing from the battered well spreads across the Gulf and soils pristine beaches and coastline, BP and our government have reconsidered.

    Federal law has also hampered the assistance. The Jones Act, the maritime law that requires all goods be carried in U.S. waters by U.S.-flagged ships, has prevented Dutch ships with spill-fighting equipment from entering U.S. coastal areas.

    “What’s wrong with accepting outside help?” Visser asked. “If there’s a country that’s experienced with building dikes and managing water, it’s the Netherlands.”

    Of course with all the oil that is now in the gulf that gives obama talking points to cram his crap and trade bill down our throats.

    Chicago style politics.....you asked for it....the gulf coast got it

    But I'm not surprised, no union workers on the offshore rigs, no oil in the ninth ward of New Orleans, none of his voter base renting beachside condo's along the coast...........he's only hurting the hard working folks....and he knows we didn't vote for him!

    June 10, 2010 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  8. grrace

    oops! I need to make a correction to my above post. We have drilled over 50,000 wells in the Gulf. Too much yet? It's called "saturation." And my other correction, it's called the "Everest" because the well is drilled over 35,000 feet deep into the earths crust... depth is as high as MT. EVEREST. (Isn't that insane we let these bozos do that?)

    June 10, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  9. Steve- Illinois

    This is one of, if not thee, most regulated industry in the world!
    What about the government workers failure to enforce the regulations?
    Fact is, if the government employees had been doing their jobs, this may have never happened! But now the answer is more government regulations and laws? If the CEO of B.P. is responsible for his workers, should not the President be held responsible for the incompetence and laziness of Federal Government employees?
    Instead, we'll get a bunch of useless hearings, from a bunch of old blowhards in Congress, who wouldn't know a drilling rig if they were fishing from it!

    June 10, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  10. Chessnutz of Liverpool NY

    Yes agreed the laws need to updated, however the current laws should also be applied for the criminal negligence that caused the loss of eleven lives.
    What does it take to get the law to apply to corporations who continually work around the law and cut corners on safety to be held accountable and be charged with criminal felonies?
    Whether it is down in a coal mines, Oil rigs or any other business worker safety should be upheld before profits.

    June 10, 2010 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  11. Naqib

    Typical social organizing LAWYER....

    Worried about the lawsuit and liability while nothing is done!

    STOP THE LEAK.... then worry about how much money you can get

    June 10, 2010 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Antiquated laws like this need to be amended to reflect modern values. Let's face it 26 million to any of these 3 multi-billion dollar companies is like pocket change to the average American. It would be cheaper to pay this amount than to upgrade their equipment with the latest safety features. Until the penalty for failing to do so is sufficient to hurt their bottom line, they will fail to do so.

    June 10, 2010 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  13. Dano

    Antiquated laws like this need to be amended to reflect modern values. Let's face it 26 million to any of these 3 multi-billion dollar companies is like pocket change to the average American. It would be cheaper to pay this amount than to upgrade their equipment with the latest safety features. Until the penalty for failing to do so is sufficient to hurt their bottom line, they will fail to do so.

    June 10, 2010 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  14. Doc

    Exxon made a record 65 billion in profit but the liability cap has never been adjusted. Just more corporate welfare. Oil exploration is a gamble that sometimes pays off handsomely and sometimes ends in disaster. But it isn't just the inadequacy of the regulations, it's the lack of funding for personnel and equipment to do the inspections and enforcement and the culmination of eight years of an administration that not only wanted to de-regulate the industry but also made it well know to the agencies involved that they didn't want them to enforce them in the first place.

    June 10, 2010 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  15. File under "Sarcasm"

    Let's just pass a law making oil drilling illegal and we'll have no more spills.

    June 10, 2010 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  16. gt

    use the same folks from the nrc .. they will make sure its done right or they will shut them down in a hurrry...

    June 10, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  17. Angus McDugan

    That's our president. Good ol' Brarck "after the fact" Obama.

    June 10, 2010 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  18. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Only the Republicans would call for a vote to repeal the enforcement ability of what little power the EPA has during the midst of the worst oil spill in U.S. History. Lisa Mur-sheisty of Alaska is the biggest sell-out of all.

    June 10, 2010 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  19. candy23

    Everything in washington needs to be updated,and the President is the one to do it. If updates were in place 9-11 would have never happened. We dont do anything to solve the problem we wait until the next president comes around we dont want to hurt anybodys feelings, And that is not getting us any where If we get stricter in security thing would get better.We are the US not some lag behind we are the last to get anything including medicine we dont get generic because it might take a dollar away from the people who is in charge of medicines.So yes President Obama get us updated,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    June 10, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  20. phoenix86

    Yes, Obama should especially review the law that prohibits laying the costs on a private sector for a government act. Obama shuts down drilling then wants BP to pay for the economic disaster that Obama causes? How much more idiotic can Obama become?

    June 10, 2010 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  21. seebofubar

    Actually Obama, what needs updating is the occupant of the oval office.

    June 10, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |