New York Times Update here.
Mr. Obama had initially not planned to visit the region until later this week at the earliest, White House officials said Friday afternoon. But by late Friday night, with criticism mounting that the government’s response was too slow, White House officials decided that the president needed to make the trip to the gulf on Sunday.
White House officials sent two Cabinet officials to appear on the Sunday television talk shows with the message that the administration was doing everything it could to take control of the spill and that it had been involved from the beginning. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on Fox News Sunday that the government had an “all hands on deck” approach to the disaster.
If you're wondering why we haven't heard anything of late from Rear Admiral Mary Landry of the U.S.C.G., Commander of the Eighth District, here's why: Washington quietly replaced her two days ago. The new Commander in charge of the spill is Admiral Thad Allen. Whether Admiral Landry found herself in a situation beyond her capacity to respond is a matter of speculation. I think she took a "we're doing all we can at this time" approach, which left her hanging on a limb when it became clear how serious a spill this was. Right from the start, this thing should have been addressed as a major battlefront. She acted as if it was an "incident." In my opinion, she failed to hit the General Alarm.
Napolitano and Obama also failed to hit the General Alarm, so maybe Landry is the first of many scapegoats.
What does this spill mean for the future of deep water oil exploration? It's hard to say. It's quite possible that the well in question will never be fully sealed. If this happens, it will leak oil forever and ever, and the effects of such a leak will be felt all over the world for many years to come. How will the ecological impact compare to that of the volcano in Iceland? Who can say? One thing's for certain, we seem to have a relentless talent for poisoning the planet.
The good news, if there is any good news, is two fold: Warm water breaks down oil faster than cold water, and, for the most part, migratory species of birds have already moved on. If BP can install new BOPs, and if they can install the containment/recovery dome, and if they can drill some relief wells (that's a lot of ifs), a massive cleanup effort will begin to make a difference. Otherwise, it's like trying to cleanup downwind of an erupting volcano.