Rahm Emanuel to Yachting BP CEO: Stay out of PR

Rahm Emanuel to Yachting BP CEO: Stay out of PR

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The White House has ratcheted up its condemnation of how BP is handling the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, complaining bitterly that it has had to push the oil giant to do more – and move more quickly – at every step of the crisis.

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel also attacked BP chief executive Tony Hayward, calling his attendance at a yacht race on Saturday ‘part of a long line of PR gaffes and mistakes’.

‘A lot of things that they had to be pushed to do, and pushed to do faster,’ said Emanuel in an interview with ABC television’s This Week show on Sunday.

He said BP had to be forced to drill two relief wells, not just one; it had to be forced to increase the rate at which it was capturing oil flowing into the Gulf; and it had to be forced to establish a $20 billion escrow account to pay off claims.

Over the past week, the British energy giant has called in more ships and equipment from other locations, announced that it was ahead of schedule in drilling the relief wells, and said it would significantly boost the capture of oil leaking from its busted well.

But Emanuel credited U.S. administration pressure for obtaining those gains.

‘They had a system in place, not extensive enough. Not fast enough,’ he said. ‘So we’ve made them go from 25,000 to 50,000 barrels by the end of this month. And we think by mid-July force – basically making them pick up their game – they can get to 90 percent,’ he said.

He sidestepped a question over whether the administration is confident the relief wells, seen as the only remaining way to permanently plug the leak, would be ready by August.

The chief of staff’s comments were the sharpest expression yet of the rising tension between BP and the administration of President Barack Obama, who last week strong-armed the company’s chiefs at a White House meeting to establish the escrow fund.

Emanuel portrayed the relationship as one in which the administration has had to push a reluctant corporate partner at every step since the April 20 explosion that destroyed a BP-leased deepwater rig, killed 11 workers and unleashed the spill.

But he reserved his most scathing remarks for Hayward, who was removed from day to day oversight of BP’s disaster response last week and was photographed on Saturday attending a yacht race off the Isle of Wight.

‘Well, to quote Tony Hayward, he has got his life back, he would say,’ Emanuel said of the outing at the yacht race, alluding to an earlier remark by Hayward that incensed political Washington.

‘I think we can all conclude that Tony Hayward is not going to have a second career in PR consulting,’ he said.

‘Now this is a mistake and it’s a big mistake, like others he has done in the sense when he said himself, he has got his life back.

Emanuel added: ‘What’s more important is, do the people down there in that area have their life back? Do they have their livelihood back?’
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
• Source(s): ABC / This Week / ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper


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