• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Slipping on Spill Cleanup: Lead, Follow, or Get Out the Way

    The Daily Caller explains how it works in the Gulf. “Escambia County sends a request to the Mobile, Ala., Unified Command Center…Then, it’s reviewed by BP, the federal government, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard. If they don’t like it, they don’t tell us anything.” The frustration is palpable. Local officials are increasingly frustrated that rather than support from the federal government they are just getting red tape—which doesn’t soak up much oil.

    Messing-up the oil spill clean-up reflects a bigger problem, Washington has been playing a bigger and bigger role in running disaster response—and as a result the response is getting worse not better.

    The current structure of the Department of Homeland Security is too centralized in Washington, DC to effectively respond to catastrophic disasters. When disaster strikes, this is a major problem in terms of getting resources on the ground efficiently. Heritage Homeland Security expert Matt Mayer recently wrote “FEMA does not spend enough time preparing for catastrophic natural disasters–increasing the likelihood that the federal response for the next catastrophe will be insufficient, as it was during Hurricane Katrina.”

    Guess what? He was right.

    State and local governments know their geography, people, economic impacts, and needs fare better than does the federal government. For too long, policymakers have tried to force through a federal solution to this problem. However, effectively responding to such disasters requires a true enterprise of participants from federal agencies and actors, to state and local governments, and the private sector. Empowering all of these entities makes the difference.

    One significant impediment to empowering state and local governments to drive their own crisis response is that DHS has not used the grant program to build needed capabilities at the local level. Instead, the program has often been driven by politics and isn’t aligned with gaps in resources or allocated effectively on the basis of risk.

    Washington must decentralize response and recovery efforts empowering, rather than thwarting the ability of state and local governments to respond more rapidly and decisively to safeguard the livelihood of their communities and the local environment.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Slipping on Spill Cleanup: Lead, Follow, or Get Out the Way

    1. Norma in Nebraska says:

      This is the VERY reason the Constitution puts the power at the State level, and only the States and the people thereof can move power to the Federal gov't. The Founders knew that the best response to any situation is at the local level because the people involved have a vested interest in doing what is right for the citizens of the State. The Federal gov't should get out of the way, return power to the States to take care of this mess, and only supply what is needed beyond the resources of the effected State.

      This is a typical case where unintended consequences result from legislation that was intended to alleviate a specific problem. The end result is that in ordinary circumstances there may not be a problem, but in a crisis the periods of required waiting are devastating to the States who are on the waiting end.

      The political side of this particular problem will ultimately interfere with the expedient side and no amount of requesting, pleading or begging will change that. Washington and President Obama will surely make the best use of this crisis they can to insure that Cap and Trade gets passed into law. The States and the residents of those States will pay the ultimate price for all of the "hemming and hawing" that preceeds any meaningful resolution.

      I have to say that I am not holding my breath because after 17 months it is quite apparent that the wishes of the American people are totally disregarded when it comes to our government and how it operates. My heart goes out to the effected areas, and I pray to God that someone in Washington comes to their senses . . . .

    2. b & t flyover co says:

      Iran is important. The oil spill is important. The escalating unsustainable debt is important. Israel is important. Our sovereignty is important, our borders, too.

      But I gotta tell you — and if you think I have a bad attitude and am a less than "great" American, OK — you're entitled to your opinion just as I am entitled to mine.

      For me, it just all boils down to health care. I want it back. For all of us. I don't want to give up the health care benefits that came with my pension that I worked for my entire life. And I don't want it rationed. That's all I care about. I used to listen to talk radio and watch Fox — Sean, Greta, Glenn Beck — but nowadays if the show doesn't speak to me about us getting back our health care, I turn off the radio and TV.

      If it ain't about getting back our health care, I just plain don't care.

      Never thought I would be a one issue person, but that is exactly what I have become.

      Get back our health care or go away.

      Without it, we are all so screwed.

    3. Lloyd Scallan New Or says:

      What will it take before everyone realizes Obama is delibertely dragging out this

      "crisis" (as Emanuel said) to continune pushing his Crap and Tax bill and the

      doubling of gasoline and diesel cost. He refused help from the Dutch, or any other country, for that reason. All of this BS about the Jones Act does not apply

      to foreign flag vessel carrying cargos from a foreign port to any US port. This is just another lie to justify his actions. The more oil or "tar balls" that wash up on the beaches, the more people will scream for "something" to be done. That plays directly into his hands.

      His 6 months moratorium will kill as many as 330,000 oil field related jobs just in Louisiana alone. Plus, this specialized drilling rigs will be forced to be moved to foreign waters for perhaps years, thus taking away the equipment needed to continue drilling offshore.

      Every day, oil field related companies are laying off workers. Thousands of fishermen, (both commerical and sport) are out of business. Hotels, motels,

      restaurants, and all other tourist related industires are shuting down. All because

      Obama "fiddles" (for Crap and Tax) while the Gulf Coast burns.

    4. Don Morton Ballwin,M says:

      My son and Grandson live in the Pensacola area and they report that since the Feds will not respond with help, that the local govt and the local shrimpers are taking matters in their own hands. Their livelihood depends on the beaches and the Gulf,so they are taking measures on their own to keep these areas clear. It becomes clear that this administration wants this crisis to continue. When will this country wake up to the fact that they are on their own.

    5. Ben C. Ann Arbor, MI says:

      Seems to me that government at any level is incompetent – more so the higher up the pyramid one travels. At least on the local level their is direct accountablity. At the federal level, especially in regulatory and other agencies, their is little if any accountability. Something about the old saying "we are from the federal government and we are here to help" conmes to mind.

    6. dls says:

      palatable means that it tastes good.

      palpable means that it is hard to miss

    7. Joy Redding, CA says:

      Many other nations generously offered expert assistance and Obama turned them down. The initial spill was the fault of BP, but the mess falls right into the lap of Obama. The crisis could have been avoided. His initial reaction was litigation; not focusing on preventing the spread of the oil. Let's watch the money he's collecting from BP VERY closely!

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.