RFK Jr. Attacks Bush, Oil Industry for ‘Wild West’ Drilling, Gulf Coast Oil Spill

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. must be having trouble remembering who is president these days. Kennedy spent much of his April 30 CNN interview attacking the previous administration for last week's Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster and subsequent oil spill. 

In an appearance on "Rick's List," Kennedy opined that as a nation "we should be moving away from our deadly addiction to oil. Not only because of the damage it's doing in the Gulf, but we are exporting, we are borrowing a billion dollars a day in our country mainly from nations that don't share our values."

But then Kennedy attacked President George W. Bush and the oil industry as a whole for the tragic spill still being dealt with off the Louisiana coastline. The founder of Waterkeeper Alliance, a left-wing environmental group, told Sanchez that his organization filed a class-action lawsuit on the behalf of Louisiana fishermen.

Host Rick Sanchez asked "What did these guys do wrong? Were they careless?"

Kennedy replied affirmatively and went on to attack not merely the single company (British Petroleum) responsible for the drilling platform, but the entire oil industry and the Bush administration:

"But because of the oil industry's influence on the Bush administration -- the Bush administration waved that requirement [for acoustic regulators used in Europe]. So it made the oil spills intrinsically much more dangerous," Kennedy claimed.

Kennedy said the oil industry had been a "very bad neighbor in the Gulf." "There's been 858 spills, explosions and fires since 2001. And the government has essentially, the regulatory agencies have essentially turned their backs. And, and blocked their ears," Kennedy claimed.

No context was given for those figures. According to the American Petroleum Institute, an organization that represents the oil industry, oil spillage from offshore platforms has decreased by 95 percent since the 1970s.

There were no oil industry spokesmen quoted in the segment, although Sanchez made it clear that CNN asked BP for an interview or statement and BP declined.

Kennedy claimed that the industry should have been doing a lot more and more federal oversight was necessary: "... again the Bush administration the federal oversight over these offshore drilling rigs was virtually lifted. It was the Wild West out there, the industry did whatever it wanted assuring the American public that something like this could never happen. But at the same time the regulators were -- the regulatory agency was cut -- the budget was cut to almost nothing..."

In 2009, The Minerals Management Service, the part of the Interior Department that regulates offshore oil drilling, had a budget of $310 million.

Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour is the Assistant Managing Editor for the MRC's Business and Media Institute.