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  • Live from the Gulf: Oil Spill Follies... Bayou-Myth or Bureaucratic Red Tape?

    Angry. That is the first word that comes to mind listening firsthand to how folks on the Gulf Coast feel about the federal government’s response the oil spill disaster. For many, this far worse than Katrina. That hurricane swept through three states in hours, covering thousands of square miles; wiping out roads, communications, and everything else needed to respond to the disaster. It is understandable why it took aid too long to reach too many. The oil spill, on the other hand, has been a disaster in slow motion. Everyday people on the Gulf Coast watch what has been their livelihood for decades succumb to the growing cancer of oil contamination. About one-third of all American fisheries are rooted in the marshlands and estuaries of Louisiana where fish and wildlife breed—all that is at risk; as is a once thriving energy industry as a result of the drilling moratorium.

    The oil spill was a disaster, but it was not a catastrophe. It is becoming a man-made catastrophe because of a failure to clean-up the spill and respond quickly to the environmental damage being caused by the oil that makes landfall. While there are many people, from private contractors to the Coast Guard, working tirelessly to support the states in protecting their coastline, for many in the federal bureaucracy it seems like business as usual—or worse.

    On Grand Isle, the state of Louisiana is fighting a battle to keep oil out of Barataria Bay. The Parish requested a permit from the Corps of Engineers to build rock dams. According to sources that I talked to, all the federal agencies that had to be consulted took 30 days to consider the proposal—then rejected it—and offered no alternative plan.

    The sand berms off the Chandeleur Islands are part of the last best line of defense for the Mississippi Delta against a Hurricane headed for landfall. Dredging operations there are vital for building up the berms. Dredging had to be halted, sources told me, because federal officials insisted that contaminated sand be removed first. With Hurricane season already underway, stopping the operations is nothing short of a crisis. Choppy seas prevented boats from carting the sand away. In the end, the National Guard dispatched two helicopters to cart the sand away—probably the most expensive sand removal on record—so work could resume.

    There is also a lot of concern and confusion about work rules concerning the clean-up. Long breaks are mandatory and little work is done at night. It is not clear if the problem is federal safety rules or decisions by BP, or if the right answer is that long breaks are unavoidable—in which case, hire more workers.

    A Coast Guard regulation levies a heavy fine for coming within 65 feet of a containment boom or ship involved in clean-up activities. That restriction has sent some local officials through the roof. ) Some are concerned that the rule exists only to keep the media from covering the story. Others fear it will prevent volunteer clean-up efforts. If there was a logical reason for the rule, no one down here thinks it was articulated very well. Either way many see the regulation as little more than the heavy hand of government. Talk radio compares the Coast Guard regulation to the federal suit over the Arizona law to combat illegal immigration—a situation where Washington is not only not doing its job, but making everybody else trying to do their job harder.

    The right answer to all these problems is a senior political principal federal official who can knock heads. Rather than sit in their air conditioned offices and saddle an under-manned, overworked Coast Guard with the thankless task of herding all the cats, there ought to be Washington official on the hot seat.

    Our Live from the Gulf series is brought to you by our team of energy, environment, homeland security and response experts:

    James Carafano: Deputy Director, The Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies and Director, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies
    Jack Spencer: Policy Director, Energy and Environment, Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies
    Nick Loris: Research Assistant, Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies
    Rory Cooper: Director of Strategic Communications

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    11 Responses to Live from the Gulf: Oil Spill Follies... Bayou-Myth or Bureaucratic Red Tape?

    1. T Coyne Norrth Carol says:

      Remember: "Never let a crisis go to waste." I believe that is what has and is driving the President to do nothing much of anything. He wants this to stop oil drilling and to move into his alternative energy ideology, cap & trade and more taxes. This guy does what he thinks is right and never listens to the electorate whatsoever. He gives lots of lip service with ultimately turns into falsehoods and lies.

    2. Phil, Pearland, Texa says:

      I think everyone is missing the point. I believe that the government is doing exactly what they are being told to do. Remember "never let a crisis go to waste"? By letting the oil stain marshes, beaches and ruin lives, obama can once again point to oil as being the big culprit and big oil as the demon which gives him more ammunition for his green agenda to move forward. His political base and the nuts in the far left green movement are loving every bit of this. There is no way he is going to go out of his way to cut through the red tape to get this solved any quicker. Just look at how he is fighting the Federal Judges who stopped the moratorium to try and get it approved.

    3. Lloyd Scallan (New O says:

      You still don't get it. Obama does not want to stop this "catastrophe". He needs the oil damage to push his Crap and Tax bill and to continue his drilling moratorium. Just yesterday, a Federal Appeals Court, again ruled against Obama's moratorim, but still he is fighting to keep it in place. Ask yourself why?

      The USCG may be working "tirelessly", but it's not to ptoect our coast. They are working on doing the bidding of Obama to interfere wth the locals that know what should be done, like shutting down skimming operations because of not enough

      life jackets and fire extingueshers.You might note Thad Allen has been moved to Mobile, Alabama and out of Louisiana. WHY?

      The rocks, the berms, and other sensible proposals by locals are being shot-down due to the same Obama led radical environmentalist that want all offshore drilling stopped. In addition, Bobby Jindal is a Republican that could effect

      the 2012 elections, as well as Louisiana voting for McCain overwhelmingly

      Obama would never allow a "federal head knocker", even if one could be found in the federal government. One last time, Obama needs this "crisis". Nothing that

      should be done is being prevented delibertly.

    4. Pingback: Oil Spill Follies: Bayou-Myth or Bureaucratic Red Tape? | Plug The Bleeping Hole

    5. George Colgrove says:

      James,
      You say “The right answer to all these problems is a senior political principal federal official who can knock heads”.

      NO! This is not the right answer. Yes, I agree there should be a lot of government officials on the hot seat for getting in the way of solving this problem. Government has acted in a criminal manner in this issue and they should be tried. Government’s success is founded on failure. It is not in the best interest of Government officials to solve problem because it will kill their jobs. Imagine Feds actually succeeding putting an end to hunger and poverty. What would we do the HHS then? Feds will never work towards solutions that resulted in the termination of their importance.

      I say let the oil industry (who has skin in the game) take control of this today – as a collective mind. Let them assign a point-person to address the problem, add American ingenuity and elbow grease and let’s see this get wrapped up by Wednesday next week! With the same zeal that a bunch of engineers and scientist had at NASA that brought Apollo 13 back to earth; we can have this problem wrapped up very soon, with no government assistance at all!

    6. Bob, Glen Allen, VA says:

      Why haven’t we called to task and found jobs more suited to the limited talents those in the government who believe leaving 100% of the oil is better than removing 99% of the oil (15 ppm standard); worry about ecological problems that may be there and stop the 100% certainty of disaster when the oil hits the area; generally work with no sense of urgency in this disaster; and have taken forever to bring in foreign, high capacity oil removal? This is an absolute failure of leadership and bashing BP will not address the disaster.

    7. Verna Mandel Simi VA says:

      The Federal Government needs to suspend the Jones Act and the restrictive environmental regulations and then get out of the way. Let the States affected by the oil spill work together to protect their coasts and wildlife.

    8. Pingback: VG2U @ AnyNEWS » Blog Archive » BP Oil Spill — Obama to BP: Hurry Up – TheStreet.com

    9. Pingback: Live from the Gulf: Oil Spill Follies… Bayou-Myth or Bureaucratic … | The Daily Conservative

    10. Lynn Bryant DeSpain says:

      The very first myth to clear is that this is no SPILL! A spill is knocking your morning coffee over on the kitchen tablecloth.

      The situation in the Gulf is more akin akin to an OIL GEYSER.

      This cannot even be called a disaster, nor an accident, because cold and calculating minds set out to see that this event occured.

      Persons who's power lay far above those resonsible for issuing permits for drilling for oil in American territories, for they Denied British Petroleum, and for excellent reason. BP's safety record, was twice as bad as the other eight competative bidders added together!

      BP was the only Foriegn owned Drilling company capable of the drill, while the others were American owned. Being foreign owned they were under International Safety inspections of average four hour times. American operations are under United States Coast Guard Inspections, lasting seven to ten days, per inspection.

      This was no accident, this was the same as placing a rabid Pitbull dog into a room full of children. Criminal and with a known outcome.

      One need look no further than our own elected officials to find the guilty parties, and the reasons are many. Cementing the standstill for all Enviromentalist. Placing our full need on Islamic oil. Placing even more Americans on the unemployment lines. Removing even more from the "Middle Class" of American, who not so long ago were the Majority , and aare now fastly becoming America's minority.

      Look to those who want America to never look back to the freedom of the Republic that it once was and the Constitution on whichi it was baced, but would have us all "Enjoy" the fruits of Socialism, bread lines, handed out medical care, shared living areas, public transportation ONLY, set wages for all, and no incentives for inginuity or working harder than the person next to you. Being taught only what the people in charge want you to be taught. At and books and movies, by committee permission.

      People with these goals in mind we can blame for the Guld tragedy, and no one else.

    11. Drew Page, IL says:

      I trid to read the Heritage report "live from the gulf" and found nothing there. I am hoping that Heritage's cover can penetrate into Lake Ponchatrain where, I'm told, the oil spill has penetrated. I am also told that the feds have put a lid on news coverage at Lake Ponchatrain, forbidding TV cameras, reporters and even requiring helicopters keep 3,000 feet away from the Lake. Violaters, I am told are subject to arrest.

      How, I wonder, can this be. The feds forbidding reporters and news cameras from reporting on the oil spill reaching Lake Ponchatrain subject to arrest? I'm anxious to hear Eric Holder explain how the First Amendment is not applicable here. While on the subject of Eric Holder, I'm wondering how he will explain the comments and actions of his political appointee at the DOJ, Ms. Hernandez, when it comes to voter intimidation perpetrated by blacks against whites, such as in the Philadelphia case of Black Panther party thugs intimidating voters during the presidential election 18 months ago. It seems that Ms. Hernandez has instructed attorneys at the DOJ's "Voting rights" division to drop, or refuse to take any cases of voter intimidation where the perps are black and the victims are white. This was revealed in testimony of Mr. J. Christian Adams, a former senior attorney at DOJ, who resigned as a result of Ms. Hernandez's instructions. In his testimony before the Civil Rights Commission, Mr. Adams said that the supervisor he previously reported to could back up his allegations. the civil Rights commission attempted to subpoena that supervisor, but the subpoena had to be approvded by the DOJ. If you guessed that the DOJ rejected the Civil Rights Commission subpoena — YOU WOULD BE RIGHT.

      If Eric Holder is allowed to get away with refusing to comply with the Civil Rights Commission subpoena of Adams' supervisor, we have become just another bananna republic dictatorship.

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