Much has been said in the nearly six weeks since BP’s spoiled rig began spewing barrel after barrel of oil into the Gulf about the lack of quick decisive federal response and the various bureaucratic hurdles effecting such impotence.
Like post-Ivan / pre-Katrina hurricane preparedness, this lack of action- due to demand for studying, observing, debating, planning, and reviewing- is only serving to amplify the destructive action of a situation, which, while perhaps not fully preventable, is, in fact, nearly fully rectified with available tools, methods, and technologies.
In recent weeks, the region has seen millions of gallons of chemical dispersants added to an already toxic blend with no certain knowledge of eventual effect, or any plan of what to do with the now uncoagulated volumes of oil leaching oxygen from the Gulf’s already suffocating waters. In this same period, safe and effective proposals have been offered up, yet repeatedly denied oportunity by either BP, the Corps of Engineers, or the EPA.
Fisherman wishing only to preserve their livelihoods had to originally fight BP and the Coast Guard for permission to use their boats to deploy protective booms. Terrebonne and LaFourche Parishes have both had plans to use bagasse (a natural and nontoxic remnant of the sugar cane processing industry) to soak up the chemical slick only to have the government agencies overseeing the cleanup give a resounding no. Actor turned green entrepreneur Kevin Costner has offered use of a technology which is capable of cleaning the oil from the gulf’s waters in place. His company has enough equipment sitting on barges in Venice right now to clean 99% of the oil from the water at a rate which is faster than the well is leaking into the water. Not only would this eliminate the current slick, it would control any future leaking crude until the well is fully plugged, AND it leaves all of the oil as reclaimed, clean, and fully usable for refining. All parties involved have repeatedly told this company no.
Finally, Plaquemines Parish president Billy Nungesser has been trying for weeks to get approval for his plan to use dredging machines and barges to build a series of sacrificial barrier islands which would seal off the states valuable, irreplacable fishing and oyster grounds from the encroaching petroleum scourge. As Nungesser has repeatedly pointed out, the oil is troublesome yet possible to overcome when floating offshore or sitting on beaches. It is however nearly impossible to effectively clean up once it enters the marshy natural wonder that is Louisiana’s gradual coast. Nungesser’s artificial burms would act as a sort of at sea levee keeping these poisoned waters out of the marsh while still allowing the tar and sludge to deposit itself on this newly created, already dead land. The sand is there, the knowledge and manpower is there, and as anyone who has ever watched the continuous dredging operations off the Florida and Mississippi coasts knows, the dredging equipment is there. Like Costner’s super filters, the dredging machines are onsite, equipped, manned, and ready to go. The Corps and EPA however are continually saying no.
The news of federal bureaucracy overcoming its ability to maintain the slightest semblance of effectiveness is nothing new. These agencies are tasked with their own area of control and often manage to corrupt that need for protection into a bureaucratic feifdom that halts progress on any front. These agencies are tasked with serving the people in whatever their particular capacity is. However, there only one person who is elected by the people of Louisiana to protect and serve Louisiana herself. That man is of course our Governor Bobby Jindal.
Jindal as shown by his embrace of lawsuits challenging the recent health care overhaul is a champion and defender of state’s rights. What state right could be more important than protecting the economy, lifeblood, and ecosystem of the state of Louisiana. I call on Gov. Jindal and ask you all to call on him as well, to exercise his right as the supreme executive of the state of Louisiana and make those decisions that the Feds seem incapable or incompetent of doing.
Governor, give Billy Nungesser the go ahead to build his islands. Tell Kevin Costner to turn on his machines, and DO SOMETHING TO CLEAN UP THAT OIL!!
If this becomes a pissing match between state and federal officials, so be it. But make the decisions, get to work, and deal with the legal and bureaucrats fights later on.
We only have one coast and we only have one shot at this. This is your Katrina. Do you really want to be our next one-term governor, sitting in your livingroon hearing everyone say “if only he had acted…”?