Limbaugh falsely claimed Obama waited eight days to deal with Gulf oil spill

Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed that President Obama “waited eight days” to respond to the Gulf oil spill. In fact, the White House immediately dispatched federal officials and the Coast Guard to work on the response to the spill.

Limbaugh falsely claims that “Obama didn't jump on this ASAP”

Limbaugh: Obama “waited eight days” to respond to spill. On the April 30 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh stated: “The problem here is that Obama didn't jump on this ASAP. He waited eight days, folks. There is no excuse for this. None.” [Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show, 4/30/10]

White House immediately dispatched officials, Coast Guard to work on response

April 20: Oil rig explosion. An April 21 article reported, “An overnight explosion in the Gulf of Mexico rocked the Deepwater Horizon oil rig off the Louisiana coast, sending spectacular bursts of flame into the sky. The fires were still raging today.”

April 21: Deputy Secretary of Interior, Coast Guard dispatched to region. An April 22 White House statement noted that following a briefing with President Obama, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen, Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, “Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes was dispatched to the region yesterday to assist with coordination and response.” The Coast Guard announced that four units were responding to the fire, with additional units en route.

  • Search and rescue efforts begin for 11 missing. An initial focus of the response was the search for 11 missing crewmembers. The search was called off April 23.
  • “The U.S. Coast Guard launched a major search effort.” An April 22 article reported:

The U.S. Coast Guard launched a major search effort Wednesday for 11 people missing after a “catastrophic” explosion aboard an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico engulfed the drilling platform in flames.

Another 17 people were injured -- three critically -- in the blast aboard the Deepwater Horizon, which occurred about 10 p.m. Tuesday. The rig was about 52 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana, said Coast Guard Senior Chief Petty Officer Mike O'Berry. As of late afternoon Wednesday as many as six firefighting vessels were working to contain the massive fire caused by the explosion.

“It obviously was a catastrophic event,” O'Berry said.

  • BP confirms U.S. Coast Guard was “leading the emergency response.” In an April 21 press release, British Petroluem stated that it was “working closely with Transocean and the U.S. Coast Guard, which is leading the emergency response, and had been offering its help -- including logistical support.” A separate April 21 press release from drilling contractor Transocean also stated: “Transocean's Emergency and Family Response Teams are working with the U.S. Coast Guard and lease operator BP Exploration & Production, Inc. to care for all rig personnel and search for missing rig personnel.”

April 23: Coast Guard “focused on mitigating the impact of the product currently in the water.” On April 23, the Coast Guard stated:

The Department of the Interior, MMS [the U.S. Minerals Management Service], and the Coast Guard continue to support the efforts of the responsible parties to secure all potential sources of pollution. Both federal agencies have technical teams in place overseeing the proposals by BP and Transocean to completely secure the well. Until that has occurred and all parties are confident the risk of additional spill is removed, a high readiness posture to respond will remain in place.

Although the oil appears to have stopped flowing from the well head, Coast Guard, BP, Transocean, and MMS remain focused on mitigating the impact of the product currently in the water and preparing for a worst-case scenario in the event the seal does not hold. Visual feed from deployed remotely operated vehicles with sonar capability is continually monitored in an effort to look for any crude oil which still has the potential to emanate from the subsurface well.

“From what we have observed yesterday and through the night, we are not seeing any signs of release of crude in the subsurface area. However we remain in a 'ready to respond' mode and are working in a collaborative effort with BP, the responsible party, to prepare for a worst-case scenario,” Landry stated early Friday morning.

Axelrod: “We had the Coast Guard on the scene almost immediately” and “the deputy secretary of the Interior was on the ground the next day.” White House adviser David Axelrod discussed the administration's response to the oil spill during an appearance on the April 30 edition of ABC's Good Morning America. He stated:

AXELROD: This is always the case in Washington, that whenever something like this happens, the political speculation sets in. But the truth of the matter is that we had the Coast Guard on the scene almost immediately after this accident, the deputy secretary of the Interior was on the ground the next day, and we've been coordinating closely with the local authorities and with the responsible party, BP, down there to deal with this from the very beginning. I'm not concerned about that. What I'm concerned about is that we do every single thing we can to remediate this problem, to stop the flow -- and that's what's going on.

Storms delayed cleanup efforts. An April 25 Associated Press article reported, “Stormy weather delayed weekend efforts to mop up leaking oil from a damaged well after the explosion and sinking of a massive rig off Louisiana's Gulf Coast that left 11 workers missing and presumed dead.” AP further reported:

The bad weather began rolling in Friday as strong winds, clouds and rain interrupted efforts to contain the spill. Coast Guard Petty Officer John Edwards said he was uncertain when weather conditions would improve enough for cleanup to resume. So far, he said, crews have retrieved about 1,052 barrels of oily water.

Spill reportedly more severe than administration officials were led to believe

AP: “BP assured the government the plume was manageable, not catastrophic.” An April 30 Associated Press article reported: “For days, as an oil spill spread in the Gulf of Mexico, BP assured the government the plume was manageable, not catastrophic. Federal authorities were content to let the company handle the mess while keeping an eye on the operation.” The article continued: “But then government scientists realized the leak was five times larger than they had been led to believe, and days of lulling statistics and reassuring words gave way Thursday to an all-hands-on-deck emergency response. Now questions are sure to be raised about a self-policing system that trusted a commercial operator to take care of its own mishap even as it grew into a menace imperiling Gulf Coast nature and livelihoods from Florida to Texas.”

Napolitano: “Today I will be designating that this is a spill of national significance” after “BP alerted us to additional oil leaking.” In an April 29 press briefing, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano stated:

Last night BP alerted us to additional oil leaking from their deep underwater well. They are working, with our support, to estimate the size of this breach.

As has just been mentioned, the President has urged, out of an abundance of caution and mindful of new and evolving information, that we must position resources to continue to confront this spill.

That being said, we have been anticipating and planning, and today I will be designating that this is a spill of national significance. What that means is that we can now draw down assets from across the country, other coastal areas, by way of example; that we will have a centralized communications because the spill is now crossing different regions.

In addition to the command center that we have operational in Robert, Louisiana, we are opening a second command center in Mobile, Alabama, for the BP spill.

As was mentioned, as well as part of our oversight of the response, I will be going to the Gulf Coast tomorrow along with Secretary Salazar and EPA Administrator Jackson to inspect ongoing operations. We remain focused on continued oversight. We'll be taking a very close look at efforts underway, particularly to minimize the environmental risks in the area affected by the leaking oil.

We'll be meeting with other federal, state and local officials deployed to the area and helping in the response effort, and we will be meeting again with BP officials to discuss cleanup planning and operations.

As the President and the law have made clear, BP is the responsible party and is required to fund the costs of the response and cleanup operations. But our visit to Louisiana and the affected areas tomorrow will also help inform our investigation into the causes of this explosion which left 11 workers missing, three critically injured in addition to the ongoing oil spill.