“We will remain focused on providing every resource we can to support the massive response effort underway at the Deepwater Horizon, but we are also aggressively and quickly investigating what happened and what can be done to prevent this type of incident in the future,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.
Secretary Salazar and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano made this and similar pronouncements as they established a joint investigation into the causes of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. According to President Obama, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and the Minerals Management Service (MMS) share jurisdiction in the investigation and Attorney General, Eric Holder, will reportedly initiate both criminal and civil investigations, as well. The joint investigation has the power to issue subpoenas, hold public hearings, call witnesses, and take other steps that may be needed to determine the cause of the incident.
But before Americans breathe a sigh of relief upon hearing the rhetoric and threats aimed against British Petroleum (BP), we must wait and watch what's being done in the backrooms of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
While denigrating and chastising BP for its responsibility for the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, lawmakers may be planning to actually reward BP and other fat cats by handing over taxpayer money in a de facto financial bailout scheme. As part of the Senate Financial Reform bill under consideration by lawmakers, a newly created slush fund would be used as a permanent backstop for Wall Street banks engaged in risky trading and lending practices.
Separately, an amendment added to the Senate Financial Reform bill by Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat from President Obama's home state of Illinois, would, under the guise of protecting consumers, extend what amounts to a bailout to major retailers and other businesses, including big oil companies like BP. Although big oil companies are posting enormous profits, while in the midst of practically destroying the Gulf Coast’s ecosystem and economy, Senator Durbin and others have decided to pour millions, if not billions, of taxpayers' dollars into the coffers of the people directly responsible for the Gulf Coast oil disaster.
Senator Durbin’s amendment would effectively set price controls on the fees that oil companies and retailers pay when consumers make credit card payments. The unintended effect of which is to shift who pays these fees from companies to consumers. The amendment, which does NOT require retailers to pass savings on to customers, is being pushed by lobbyists for big oil companies like BP and big retailers like Wal-Mart.