WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama’s point man charting a new future for the oil-poisoned Gulf Coast will do the job part-time. Some environmentalists said the job demands someone’s full attention.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who oversees 900,000 Navy and Marine personnel, is inheriting an amorphous second job as the Obama administration’s leader of long-term environmental and economic planning. His task is no less than rebuilding a region still suffering after Hurricane Katrina and beset by decades of environmental problems.
Mabus won’t resign from his Navy job. When President George W. Bush picked Donald Powell to lead the recovery after Hurricane Katrina, Powell resigned as head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
“The president talked to the governor about this, and they both agreed that he had the ability to do both,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday after Mabus met with Obama at the White House.
That prompted quick criticism from the Defenders of Wildlife, which is working to save animals from the oil that has gushed from an offshore BP oil well for nearly two months.
“The idea that he is only going to work on this part-time is disturbing,” said Robert Irvin, the group’s vice president for conservation programs. “If this is the equivalent of war, as the president has been saying, it needs a full-time general.”