The Washington Post reports:
The Interior Department exempted BP’s calamitous Gulf of Mexico drilling operation from a detailed environmental-impact analysis last year, according to government documents, after three reviews of the area concluded that a massive oil spill was unlikely.
The decision by the department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) to give BP’s lease at Deepwater Horizon a “categorical exclusion” from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on April 6, 2009 — and BP’s lobbying efforts just 11 days before the explosion to expand those exemptions — show that neither federal regulators nor the company anticipated an accident of the scale of the one unfolding in the Gulf.
For the record, the Obama administration was in office on April 6, 2009.
Cheap shot? Well, yes. The regulators probably had a good reason for exempting BP, and this certainly was a very low-probability event. (My understanding is we still don’t know why the oil rig exploded.) But if our national practice is to blame the president for everything that happens under his watch, we have to pin this on President Obama. After all, President Bush was held responsible for a hurricane and faulty levee construction in New Orleans.
POSTSCRIPT: Glenn Reynolds notes that the Post has spiked this story.