Fresh from making national news by bombing on a comedy routine at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner, U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) continues to prove he’s not funny by saying BP “should not be penalized” for its 200-million-gallon Gulf oil spill and offering praise for BP claims czar Kenneth Feinberg for being “responsive to congressional pressure.”
Speaking on ABC’s “Top Line” program, Congressman Richmond said it’s important not to “penalize BP for the incident” by denying the oil behemoth the right to drill – provided, of course, the company goes through the proper permitting process. We see Richmond rather awkwardly trying to straddle the line between kissing up to Big Oil and alienating a good portion of his constituents, many of whom had their lives turned upside down by BP’s spill.
Rep. Richmond on ABC: “They [BP] should be able to drill, as long as they follow the same rules that everybody else is following…we don’t want to penalize BP for the incident. We want them to, of course, make citizens whole that were affected, and we’ll never forget that we lost 11 lives in that incident.”
We don’t want to penalize BP for the incident? Really? Of course we do, because history tells us that hitting companies in their pocket books is one of the very few ways to get them to focus on safety and a raft of other issues of public concern. Fines alone should run into the billions and BP drilling projects should be subject to intense review and oversight.
We can’t afford to forget that BP has shown a brazen disregard for keeping its workers safe and gives short shrift to environmental concerns. To ignore that history invites a repeat of the disaster that began last April.
Rep. Richmond also had praise for Mr. Feinberg, the administrator of BP’s $20 billion victim compensation fund. Inexplicably, from a voter perspective, the New Orleans congressman applauded the embattled claims czar for being responsive to congressional pressure to expedite claims. Then, turning on a dime, Richmond added that the claims process is “…just too slow, and we have to find a way to expedite it because people are hurting and people need to receive that income and those claims need to be processed a little bit faster. But we keep pushing BP. Everyone’s not happy about it and if the constituents are not happy, I’m not happy. But the only thing we can keep doing is continuing to push Feinberg, continuing to push BP to expedite this claims process.”
So, Mr. Richmond, let me get this straight: If you keep pushing, and Mr. Feinberg continues being slow, how exactly is that being “responsive” to your concerns and the concerns of your constituents? Perhaps I’m confused.
If you’re the GOP “opposition research” guys, you’re probably busy downloading Richmond’s ABC interview. Great material: Don’t punish BP, and the claims process is responsive to Congress. That’s now Rep. Richmond’s de facto campaign slogan for 2012 – and I doubt it’s going to play well with Gulf Coast voters.
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