June 13th, 2010
10:53 AM ET
4 years ago

Riley frustrated with 'committee' approach to oil spill response


(CNN) – On the eve of President Obama’s fourth visit to the Gulf Coast region, the Republican governor of Alabama sounded a familiar tone of frustration with how the administration is handling the federal response to the Gulf oil spill.

Related: Obama heading back to Gulf Coast

Gov. Bob Riley said Sunday that he would like to speak with the president about the administration’s “unified command” structure for the oil spill response.

“What we have is a committee. It’s a committee that essentially consists of all the different federal agencies sitting down here and as a committee each one has a veto over whatever policies we have,” Riley said on CNN’s State of the Union. “You can’t continue to do that. We’re going to have one person who makes the call on what we do and where.”

After painting a picture of an unnerving, never ending web of federal decision makers all weighing in to assert their respective jurisdictions and veto decisions by their counterparts, Riley told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley that the situation was unworkable.

“You can’t have a committee making the decisions that are going to impact this entire coastal area.”

He added, “Someone is going to have to be in charge of each one of these operations. They’re going to have to make a determination about what we’re going to do and they’re going to have to set priorities.”

Riley said a wide net should be cast in the effort to compensate the public for economic losses related to the oil spill.

Asked by Crowley what classes of people should be compensated, Riley agreed that workers in the oil industry, fisherman, hotel owners, and shop owners should all be paid by BP for losses arising from the negative impact on Alabama’s economy, particularly during summer, which is the height of the tourist season.

“I don’t think there is a dividing line. I don’t think you can say that one group is going to get it and another one doesn’t,” Riley said.

Related: Obama to push BP to set up escrow fund to pay damage claims

“The whole economy is based on the tourist market and when it goes away someone has got to compensate them because most of these people [who own businesses] are not going to be here next year if we don’t”

Riley also told Crowley that BP should compensate the state of Alabama for lost tax receipts caused by the downturn in the coastal economy.


Filed under: Alabama • Bob Riley • BP • State of the Union
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. GI Joe

    Hmmmm – they don't want the government, but they want to make decisions that will financially impact people in the other 49 states - sound familiar?

    Then they will complain that government didn't help.

    June 13, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  2. GI Joe

    Do all southern governors want to dictate what happens and then DEMAND that all the people pay the cost?

    June 13, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  3. Agreed

    This seems pretty simple. The president has two options:

    1. Partner with BP to fix the problem
    2. Have the federal government fix the problem and send BP the bill

    Our current administration seems to be unable or unwilling to do either, Just more assigning blame and talking to anyone with an opinion to include academia and even movie directors.
    The bottom line is that our current president is not a good leader. Our last president did a better job during the 911 crisis which dwarfs the oil spill in criticality.
    Leadership by committee is not acceptable.

    June 13, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  4. Larry

    Riley, I thought you gulf coast people were "drill baby drill".

    Even in the midst of this leak you're "Drill baby drill".

    It's obvious that deepwater drilling can't be done safely. And now you expect the government to fix it.

    Make up your mind. Can you see this problem intelligently, or can't you?

    When we get another leak, will you still be "drill baby drill".

    Or will you gulf coast people finally wake up?

    June 13, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  5. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    Gov. Bob Riley...what did Sarah Palin tell you when you called her for her help with the oil spill? Remember she was alive during the Exxon Valdez tragedy and knows what to do.Why not use your power as Governor and put her and her "momma grizzlies" in charge of this disaster so that it gets fixed in a week or so?? Why have you not rolled up your sleeves and gotten out there yourself?

    June 13, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  6. Charlie

    There has been no leadership form the Federal Government since day 1. This is what happens when you put an inexperienced person in the office of the president. It was predicted there would be a terrorist attack within the first 6 months to test his President. He had a little over a year to prepare for such an event and has failed miserably. On day one they should have been calling in every resource available form every country in the world to contain the spill at the source. Instead, they all stood around and watched as the spill got worse by the day and never took any action. Imagine if the fire department showed up to your house for a small fire and then just watched it burn until you had a total disaster.

    We can start the cleansing process in 2010 and finish in 2012 and 2014. Time to get some government in place that is concerned for and looks out for the people rather than themselves.

    June 13, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  7. Sniffit

    Tell me this Governor. Why aren't you and Gov Jindal doing ANYTHING to better the situation?

    June 13, 2010 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  8. GI Joe

    People in California, the gulf Coast states (specfically Louisiana and Florida) keep living in areas that are hit by earthquakes and hurricanes. They have the RIGHT to live where they want, they DEMAND that right, and then DICTATE that the rest of us pick up the tab EVERY TIME for THEIR choices.

    Doesn't anyone else see how this is similar to the Wall Street fiasco where they got the profits in good years and we got the tab in the bad ones?

    June 13, 2010 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  9. Riley

    Obama is clueless. If Bush were still president, the environmentalist would be barking nonstop. But, they are suspiciously silent about Obama....Just goes to show how ridiculous they really can be....

    June 13, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  10. Tim in Minnesota writes:

    Well at least Riley doesn't want US to pay for it.

    June 13, 2010 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  11. katiec

    Does Riley have a solution? It is apparent experts are scrambling for answers but nothing has worked. Our government does not have the expertise, equipment or resources to resolve. And, the oil companies put all their research into how to drill deeper, totally ignoring any back up plans or safety procedures. They have been allowed total control with their drilling with no oversight, regulations or questions.
    Bottom line is greed with no consideration to environment or workers.
    They are trying procedures that did not work previously as they have never put any thought or resources into preventing, resolving a crisis.
    It is horrendous diaster and one that anyone involved has to be held totally accountable for.

    June 13, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  12. Jim

    I like how Repubs alternate between complaining that Obama rams his policies down their throats and complaining that Obama listens to people too much.

    Exactly what decision could Obama have made during this disaster that would have fixed everything? Have the Federal government take over BP?

    June 13, 2010 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  13. Chuck T

    Riley is a member of the "Less government is better" Republican party that has starving government by underfunding it as its mantra for years now.

    It looks like their efforts have worked, he should be proud.....

    June 13, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  14. Jerry

    Right on target. There's no overall command & control to this whole debacle. The President needs to declare whatever kind of national emergency will give him the power to put someone in charge. The Obama-haters will scream, but they'll scream anyway. This isn't the time to be testing the political wind direction. Like him or not, Obama's the President, and it's time for him as President to step up and deal with this situation. All cleanup operations need to be on a "forgiveness instead of permission" basis. If someone or some agency has a method to try, do it. If it doesn't work or it's harmful, then stop it. This isn't the time to be filling out forms and clearing regulatory hurdles while the oil is still flowing.

    June 13, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  15. ken herber

    Riley wants ONE person t make all the decisions! So did Hitler!!!

    June 13, 2010 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  16. George

    What do you want Gov. Riley, Bush's heck-ova-job Brownie in charge?

    June 13, 2010 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  17. BP to the rescue!? Oh, sh*t we're f*ck*d!

    There is nothing wrong with decision by committee as long as the committee is getting things done. Granted committee's tend to take a little longer to make their decisions, but they also tend to make the correct ones. Leaving things up to one person, granted it's quicker, leaves you more open for mistakes. Pick your poison, I guess.

    June 13, 2010 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  18. Doraine Gordon

    There is no pleasing the Republicans no matter how President Obama handles things. These people are absolutely disgusting. The whine whichever way the President goes. If he acts quickly they say he moved too fast. If he hesitates he is moving too slowly. The President has done a good job on everything he has touched since he took oiffice. The GOP knows this and can't stand it. They all wanted him to fail. Well, he hasn't failed. He will be in this for the duration. So the GOP had better suck it up and move on. And all you Republican whiners should get a life!!!

    June 13, 2010 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  19. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    How does Alabama survive in the winter season Mr. Riley, your argument for compensation is ridiculous. Riley is suggesting that the people of Alabama sit around waiting for summer tourist to come. Makes me wonder how the people of Colorado survive in the summer when there is no snow for skiing.

    June 13, 2010 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  20. Isabella

    Chain of command should have started with the President.
    He can no longer rely on teleprompter delivered speeches and it is high time to see some action and leadership from him.
    He is out of his depth on this one and often seems like a puppet who is being told what to say and do.
    Obama should have asked immediately for help and expertise from the international community , instead he wasted time by first of all ignoring this catastrophe and then resorting to juvenile blame games and empty threats .
    8 years of Bush was bad enough , now we have another 4 years of inept presidency.
    The White House should not be a place for training wheels.

    June 13, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  21. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    So he does not want a "government" but rather a dictatorship...

    June 13, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  22. Donkey Party

    Yet another example of the "smaller government" blowhards crying that big brother isn't doing more. These days, the GOP is about as credible as a Sasquatch or Elvis sighting, or of Paul Bunyan and his ox seen clear-cutting timber in the Ozarks.

    June 13, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  23. Brandon

    It's called diversity in thinking, or checks and balances, having a group make a decision as opposed to a single person helps point out the stupid things people say when their doing things alone.

    June 13, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  24. Republicans is smart in the head area

    Uh huh, and if the Obama Administration had decided to take command you would be criticizing him for not building consensus and taking a team oriented approach.

    June 13, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  25. w l jones

    In the case of Oil spill some people have put State right far back on the self. The question now is do we want the federal government in our life or not!!..

    June 13, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
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