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On air: Is the oil spill Obama's Katrina?

Chloe Tilley Chloe Tilley | 13:59 UK time, Thursday, 27 May 2010

oilcleanup.jpgAs pressure grows on President Obama for his handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the White House says a moratorium on deepwater oil drilling will be extended for six months. In that time a commission will study the reasons for the spill, which is on course to be the worst in US history.


Critics say Barack Obama should take over the disaster response if BP's latest tactic to plug the spewing oil - known as a top kill - fails. Others says he should have acted sooner.

Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's Deputy Chief of Staff from 2004-2007 is one of the President's most vocal critics on this issue

"Now the slow-moving oil spill threatens Mr. Obama's reputation, along with 40% of America's sensitive wetlands. Critics include some of his most ardent cheerleaders, who understand that 38 days without an administration solution is unacceptable."

This article agrees. But Professor Douglas Brinkley, a professor of history at Rice University in Texas thinks it just doesn't work as a comparison:

"In hurricane Katrina you had approximately 2000 people killed within 2 weeks we had human beings screaming on rooftops for food and water pleading to have their babies saved by the U.S. government. In the Deepwater Horizon incident 11 people died in an instantaneous blowup....its like comparing apples and oranges."

But if Obama's critics are listened to and the US administration steps in and takes over responsibility for stopping the leak, does that set a dangerous precedent? Will it effectively let companies in the future off the hook, financially and practically?

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