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Will Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill be Obama's Katrina?

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34 days after the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, people are starting to wonder if this disaster - described by the White House today as the worst in US history - will be to President Obama what Hurricane Katrina was for George Bush.

Oil continues to spill, causing huge and unprecedented environmental damage and pollution. In the meantime, BP is only liable under current legislation for $75 million worth of compensation despite the cost for the spill currently being estimated at $14 billion. This is also despite the fact that BP's first quarter profits for 2010 were up 135% to $5,598 million, compared with $2,387 million a year ago. Who do you think will be the ones to bear the brunt of the cost for BP's negligence? Taxpayers.

Yet, the White House has been hesitant in coming forward to criticize BP, which quite frankly - along with other major oil companies like Royal Dutch Shell - spills oil pretty regularly in other parts of the world (Nigeria for example where major spills happen nearly every year) with little to no recourse.

The fact that such a major spill has now happened in the US provides an opportune moment for the US government to put an end to the damage and destruction that is being committed by oil companies everyday not just in the US, but around the world. But will they do that? Or is the government too beholden to such companies?

President Obama runs a political risk if he chooses not to take a hard stance against BP. He risks being seen as a president who is more concerned with corporate interests than the interests of the people which is clearly not the platform on which he was elected. Being seen to pander to Big Oil, along with Wall Street bailouts does not look good for this president, particularly one who has touted green jobs and new technology as the future of America's work force. Hopefully such jobs would not be as the result of cleaning up oil spills. Republicans are already using this oil spill against him.

This is bigger than politicking though, bigger than right versus left, or even Obama's reputation. This really is about the future of the world in which we live. This is about rampant profiteering with no regard for people. And surely the future of our earth is more important.

Listen to Dr Boyce Watkins and I discuss this issue.