Sen. David Vitter of oil spill-ravaged Louisiana tells Newsmax that he is “offended” by President Obama’s attempt to use the crisis to
push his cap-and-trade legislation.
The Republican lawmaker also says cap and trade legislation is still “going nowhere,” complains that the federal response to the oil spill in the
Gulf of Mexico has been “completely inadequate,” and asserts that Obama’s moratorium on new offshore drilling is “killing” his state
economically. In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Vitter was asked about Obama’s Tuesday night speech from the Oval Office, in which he
discussed the oil spill.
“I have three main reactions,” Vitter responds.
“First of all, the president clearly and several times used the war analogy in terms of fighting this crisis. That’s great rhetoric, but the
reality on the ground along the Louisiana coast regarding the federal response does not match that rhetoric. We still need a sense of urgency, which
is not yet there. And we still need a clear military-style chain of command.
“Secondly, this moratorium needs to be lifted. It is killing us economically. It’s costing us more jobs than the oil itself. I’m pushing that
the administration asks their new blue ribbon panel to immediately make recommendations for safety measures that can go into effect now so the
moratorium can be lifted.
“Third, I was offended, quite frankly, that the president used a big chunk of the speech to essentially use the ongoing crisis to push his
cap-and-trade agenda. This is a crisis. It’s an ongoing flow affecting Louisiana every hour of every day. I’d like him to deal with it, not use
and abuse it to push his preexisting legislative agenda.”
Vitter referred to an earlier statement from White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel that the administration should not “waste a good crisis” when
it can be exploited to further a political agenda. He was talking about the financial crisis, but “unfortunately that same political attitude is
being brought to bear on our crisis in the Gulf,” Vitter says.
“This is an ongoing crisis. It’s the equivalent of a new oil spill every day, and the president needs to be an executive and attack that and
command that, not a legislator proposing a bill.
“We don’t need a bill about energy policy. We need to deal immediately with this crisis and have a truly effective federal response, which we do
not yet have.”
Asked about the cap and trade legislation to reduce carbon emissions, Vitter declares:
“I believe cap-and-trade is going nowhere. It was before the oil spill and it’s still going nowhere now.
“Some other energy legislation might have some chance. But I think cap-and-trade, which I call cap-and-tax, is still, thankfully, going nowhere in
Vitter has introduced legislation with complete Republican support – which can be passed with Democratic cooperation immediately, he says — to
completely lift the $75 million cap on BP’s liability for damages for this spill.
It also sets up an expedited claims process so that people who have suffered damage from the spill and need aid “would get it not just eventually
but immediately, so they can make it month to month and week to week,” Vitter explains.
Vitter was asked about the White House’s rejection of offers from the British and Dutch to send ships with oil-skimming booms to help clean up the
“Unfortunately it’s just one of many examples about this bureaucratic pace that we have,” he tells Newsmax.
“Clearly we do not have enough access in the Gulf now. Just a few days ago I was there and saw oil approaching Grand Isle and there wasn’t a
skimmer in sight. There’s no excuse for that.”
Discussing the situation in his state, Vitter says: “There’s enormous economic devastation, and it’s on two levels. First of all, [there are]
all the fishermen, shrimpers, oystermen who are directly impacted by the oil spill, restaurants, the seafood industry. It really threatens these
people’s way of life, not just their livelihood.
“But then on top of that, unfortunately, the president has brought more pain to bear through this moratorium on all deepwater drilling. If that
stands, that will cost us more jobs, more economic negative impact, than the impact of the oil itself.”
Louisiana is also suffering from a “completely inadequate and completely failed federal response,” he adds.
“Everybody in Louisiana, including me, is mad as hell at BP. They have really screwed up in major ways, and a lot of that continues. But apart from
that, the federal response has been a failure, and that needs to turn around.”Please visit the link provided for the complete story.
He is making a lot of sense, if you can manage to get past the partisan rhetoric. I agree with him for the most part, however I don't agree that we
should lift the temporary ban on off-shore drilling. This should be our warning that we need to change. In a perfect world, this would force us to
quit using oil and take advantage of the strides in technological progress by using alternative energy.
With that being said, I completely agree that Obama needs to concentrate on the crisis at hand, instead of trying push forward with his agenda. We are
in a crisis and need to deal with that crisis, not divert any attention away for political agendas that are designed to benefit corporate interests,
at the people's expense. We are clearly not doing enough and thus have no room for focusing on political agendas designed for corporate profit as a
result of this disaster.
Just to note: I once had the opportunity to meet Sen. Vitter several years back and he seemed to be a sincere guy with the well-being of Louisiana at
heart, at least from the half an hour or so that I spoke with him.