The BP Shakeup That Isn’t

One day after he was blasted on Capitol Hill, BP plc (BP) CEO Tony Hayward has been removed from day-to-day management of the oil spill. BP’s chairman has turned it over to a BP managing director, Bob Dudley.

That makes sense from a PR standpoint. Before the congressional hearings, Hayward seemed merely overwhelmed. After yesterday, the mere thought of Hapless Hayward in charge of plugging the hole strikes most people as ludicrous. Hayward told Congress he knew nothing, took no responsibility, and wasn’t able to comment on a thing.

Yet Dudley’s only apparent qualification is he’s an American. Dudley still reports to the same BP board of directors. They are responsible to the same BP shareholders. Those shareholders still, naturally, want BP to maximize share values and not spend a dollar (or pound) more than necessary.

Day-to-day responsibility for plugging the hole and containing the spill should be under a U.S. Admiral. He should use whatever expertise and resources BP has on hand, but also be able to get expertise and resources from other oil companies, the Navy, and the Army Corps of Engineers. He should report daily and directly to the President.

And he should send BP the bill for everything.

Otherwise Americans have no way of knowing everything necessary is being done.

Thursday BP said it recaptured 25,290 barrels of crude from the wrecked well – the most it has been able to collect in a day. But oil is still gushing at 35,000 to 60,000 barrels per day and shows no sign of slowing.

Until Tuesday morning only one vessel – the Discover Enterprise – was siphoning oil from the well. After the Coast Guard urged BP to speed up the operation, the company brought in another vessel, the Q4000, which by Thursday achieved its maximum capacity of roughly 10,000 barrels a day. Why not more vessels?

About Robert Reich 545 Articles

Robert Reich is the nation's 22nd Secretary of Labor and a professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

He has served as labor secretary in the Clinton administration, as an assistant to the solicitor general in the Ford administration and as head of the Federal Trade Commission's policy planning staff during the Carter administration.

He has written eleven books, including The Work of Nations, which has been translated into 22 languages; the best-sellers The Future of Success and Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His articles have appeared in the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. Mr. Reich is co-founding editor of The American Prospect magazine. His weekly commentaries on public radio’s "Marketplace" are heard by nearly five million people.

In 2003, Mr. Reich was awarded the prestigious Vaclev Havel Foundation Prize, by the former Czech president, for his pioneering work in economic and social thought. In 2005, his play, Public Exposure, broke box office records at its world premiere on Cape Cod.

Mr. Reich has been a member of the faculties of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and of Brandeis University. He received his B.A. from Dartmouth College, his M.A. from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and his J.D. from Yale Law School.

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