20100616

Obama's first Oval Office speech concerns the oil spill

Remarks by the President to the Nation on the BP Oil Spill The White House: "We cannot consign our children to this future. The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now. Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash America’s innovation and seize control of our own destiny."

Obama apparently thinks the "impact" of the oil spill on the American psyche would be as for the 9/11 disaster. First I wondered if he compared al Qaida with the British but it is probably rather the economical vulnerability of the US as revealed by the financial crisis at the same time as this energy disaster that he means. I any case he sees very seriously on the debacle and makes the conclusion in the above citation. However, it is probably only the matter of a one in a lifetime event like the Three Mile Island breakdown of a nuclear reactor.

Obama today met with Carl Henric Svanberg, BP's chairman of the board, concerning a $20bn fund for victims of the oil disaster that is going to be managed by a third party via the person that managed the 9/11 relief fund. I'm not sure why Obama and Svanberg is getting such bad press. Each work for their own constituencies and seem to have a plan for stopping the leak and cleaning up as well as they can. The worst that could happen is if BP went belly up and left US taxpayers with the bill and Great Britain with a yearly loss of £70bn in tax revenue. They have lost half their share value since April but a $20bn sum is what BP makes in cash per year so they should be able to afford it. Since Svanberg came in rather recently, he can't be blamed for security lapses in the company.

Sweden voted in a referendum in 1980 about nuclear power as a result of the 1979 Three Mile Island accident. It was a funny referendum since there were three No alternatives with different time schedules for the deconstruction. Silly in a way since Sweden gets some 40% of its electricity from nuclear power and that there was no replacement source. I remember having the opinion for nuclear power because we know what we are doing to a much large extent with nuclear waste than with all the materials that enter the atmosphere from fossil fuels. The only positive outcome of the oil spill might be to make a case for nuclear power which I have understood is necessary in one more round before the alternatives have matured.