Oil from the British Petroleum oil rig explosion in April is blackening thousands of miles of beaches from Texas to the Florida Keys, putting 88,000 miles of water off limits to fishermen and killing countless fish, birds and marine mammals.
It’s also evidently saddening and infuriating a huge, growing number of Americans, many of whom are demanding that President Barack Obama stop issuing empty threats and take forceful action by taking control of BP’s assets.
Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich has called for the Obama administration to put BP's American operations into temporary government receivership.
“This is a national emergency," Reich told the Observer.
"It's simply untenable for a for-profit company with responsibility to its shareholders to be in charge of handling one of the worst environmental disasters in American history,' Reich said. "At the moment, the president has no direct ability to instruct BP to do anything."
"I don't see how anybody can consider this draconian, given the draconian measure of what's happening out there," says Reich, adding that damage to Florida's beaches is as good a political incentive for Obama as any.
"The Florida economy depends on tourism. Florida is a key political state."
The Answer Coalition, a campaign group that grew out of opposition to the Iraq war, has organized a week of demonstrations in 29 U.S. cities demanding a seizure of BP's assets.
BP may have to sell some of its most-valued assets, including a stake in the biggest U.S. oil field, to pay cleanup costs, fines and legal damages from the largest offshore spill in U.S. history, Bloomberg Business Week reports.
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