Always at the center of controversy, former vice presidential candidate and Alaska Governor, Sara Palin, drew fire for her fiery words about the Obama Administration’s response to the Gulf oil spill. I haven’t drawn the same conclusion as Palin, that the Obama administration’s poor performance in responding to the crisis may be linked to Obama’s financial contributions from BP. However, I do agree with Palin that Obama is, “…taking so doggone long to get in there, to dive in there, and grasp the complexity and the potential tragedy that we are seeing here in the Gulf of Mexico…”
(Read more here: http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2010/05/sarah_palin_criticizes_obama_a.html
Sarah Palin criticizes Obama administration’s handling of Gulf oil spill)
The spill is clearly a federal government responsibility. States only have control over the water three miles from their shore. The drilling took place in federally regulated waters. As a resident of NW Florida, I want to know why the Obama administration is AWOL. Where is the leadership?
I grew up on the beaches of southern California where cleaning tar off your feet at the end of a beach day was common practice. As an adult, I visited NW Florida, fell in love with the pristine white sand beaches of Pensacola, and purchased a waterfront home. Now, there’s a potential oil spill in my backyard and it appears that our leaders are incompetent. 34 days into this disaster and the oil is still gushing with no end in sight.
Associated Press writers Greg Bluestein and Matthew Brown wrote, “The executive in charge of fighting a Gulf of Mexico oil spill acknowledged today everyone is frustrated at BP’s failure to plug the ocean gusher more than a month into a disaster that is spreading damage in Louisiana’s wetlands, including miring pelican colonies.”
BP says it’s doing all it can to fight oil spill by GREG BLUESTEIN, MATTHEW BROWN • Associated Press Writers • May 24, 2010)
Oil Spill Response Failure
Doug Suttles, BP’s COO, hit the morning talk show circuit and claimed on NBC’s Today Show, “We are doing everything we can, everything I know.” As a resident of NW Florida, waiting for the imminent disaster to hit our beaches, Suttles claim isn’t enough for me. I have questions, lots of questions. Why did it take so long to get the first attempt to cap the spill in place? Nearly three weeks into the disaster, the 100 ton steel and concrete containment box failed when ice crystals formed. (Icy crystals foil attempt to cap oil leak May 8, 2010 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37008288/ns/us_news-gulf_oil_spill/?ns=us_news-gulf_oil_spill)
The second failure was the top hat approach, another dome-like system meant to funnel the oil to a ship. It failed and we’re still waiting for the next new thing to try. The options should have been lined up and ready to go one right after the other. My concern is that BP focused on options that would allow them to still collect some of the oil. The first two attempts offered options for collecting oil. The next attempt, “top kill” consists of plugging the pipe with a heavy mud-like substance. We’ll see in coming days if this works.
If it doesn’t work I’ve got a new concern; when will the federal government step up to the plate and take responsibility for this disaster. The Obama administration’s political maneuvering is about to be revealed if the top kill method doesn’t work.
Oil Spill Politics
In a statement made on Sunday, May 23, 2010, Secretary of the interior Ken Salazar said of BP, “They are throwing everything that they can at the problem. Do I have confidence that they know exactly what they’re doing? No, not completely.” (Read more at http://www.kens5.com/news/in-depth/environment/Is-US-interior-secretary-confident-BP-knows-what-its-doing-No-not-completely-94733119.html by Tiffany Craig, May 24, 2010)
Salazar also said, “If we find they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, we’ll push them out of the way appropriately.” My question is, “When?” When will the federal government decide BP isn’t doing enough, and when they make that decision, what is their plan? Is the federal government clueless about a resolution, too?
EPA Approved Dispersants Now Pulled
I don’t believe that the Obama administration has a clue how to stop the spewing oil, but they can focus on the clean-up effort. Unfortunately, there seems to be a black hole of leadership on that front, too. Reuters reported that on Monday, May 24, “The federal government, led by the Coast Guard, is today instructing BP to take immediate steps to significantly scale back the overall use of dispersants.” (See http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN2426348120100524 BP must scale back dispersant use on spill – EPA Mon May 24, 2010 5:08pm EDT)
These are dispersants previously approved by the EPA. The move comes on the heels of a tragic event where a school of fish were seen floundering in the middle of the gulf, bouncing into the sides of boats in what was believed to be oxygen deprived water. The dispersants deeply concern me.
Last week I spoke with neighbor, Mark Tryon, a commercial fisherman from Gulf Breeze, FL. Red Snapper is 90% of his catch. Tryon says that the shrimpers and oysterman are affected the most, but as the oil spreads and larger areas of the gulf are closed off, commercial fishermen will be put out of business. Last week, Tryon was reading and studying up on the dispersants, trying to learn just how long these toxic chemicals will be in the gulf, and what long-term effect they will have on the fishing industry. He wonders how long it will be detectable, how will it enter the food chain, will it make its way into the Red Snapper and will that affect consumers. My neighbor realizes that only time will tell about the actual effect the oil and chemicals will have on his business.
Northwest Florida Still Recovering from Hurricane Ivan
In a recent conversation with Pensacola area attorney, Mary Ann Patti, I was reminded that our area is still recovering from the devastating effects of Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Ms. Patti was born in Pensacola and is the granddaughter of Pensacola’s famous “Joe Patti” seafood family. She understands the dire implications of this spill on the livelihood of everyone involved in the gulf coast seafood industry, and the tourism industry. Our economy is taking a huge hit.
My Bay Street neighborhood in Gulf Breeze, FL is still haunted by Hurricane Ivan. Nearly 50% of our once thriving neighborhood is still vacant lots as a result of the hurricane. The rebuilding process stopped when the economy tanked. Add a potential oil spill in our backyard and this neighborhood will never recover. There’s a lot of stress and worry in the Florida panhandle these days, and the 2010 hurricane season is knocking on our door.
Obama Administration Isn’t Helping
What is the Obama administration doing to help us? In my opinion, not much. Northwest Florida has been spared so far, and the oil has yet to wash up on our beaches or enter our marshes and estuaries. But using Louisiana’s predicament as an example doesn’t give me much hope. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal isn’t waiting around for the federal government any longer. Jindal has been waiting for several days for approval to build barriers. The Obama administration could have stepped in and asked the Army Corp of Engineers to pick up the pace and provide approval to begin building sand barriers to protect Louisiana’s coastline from further destruction, but the White House is silent. Jindal is moving forward, with or without the approval. (Read more at http://blog.al.com/live/2010/05/louisiana_plans_to_build_sand.html Louisiana plans to build sand barriers against Gulf oil spill By The Associated Press, May 23, 2010)
It doesn’t matter where you stand on the political spectrum, we can all agree that it’s time for decisive leadership. She may be controversial, but Palin nailed it. Why is our leadership taking so “doggone long” to take action and get on top of the worst environmental disaster we’ve seen? It’s time to stop playing politics in Washington D.C. and start providing some real leadership.
Sarah Palin criticizes Obama administration’s handling of Gulf oil spill By Trish LaMonteMay 24, 2010
BP says it’s doing all it can to fight oil spill
GREG BLUESTEIN, MATTHEW BROWN • Associated Press Writers • May 24, 2010
Icy crystals foil attempt to cap oil leak May 8, 2010 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37008288/ns/us_news-gulf_oil_spill/?ns=us_news-gulf_oil_spill)
http://www.kens5.com/news/in-depth/environment/Is-US-interior-secretary-confident-BP-knows-what-its-doing-No-not-completely-94733119.html by Tiffany Craig, May 24, 2010)
Personal interviews: Attorney Mary Anne Patti and Commercial Fisherman, Capt. Mark Tryon