- Politics and Social Issues
By: Wayne Brown
The oil spill in the Gulf gets more interesting with each passing day. Government officials also add a new tap dance step to the performance each day as well. In the words of the illustrious President of the United States, ‘let me make this clear’, it is apparent that the Obama Administration has no plans to get hung down in Louisiana with the same rope that was used on the Bush Administration. In fact, they are tip-toeing around the point so cautiously, I suspect that, in the end, a hanging will not be enough for the American public much less the taxpayers along the GulfCoast region.
After listening to several government department officials speak over the last few days, I can conclude that nothing is really being said except to say that the point is to double-speak in such a manner that no question ever gets answer in a manner that would allow blame or responsibility to ever cast a shadow on the current administration. The way things come across the government is not responsible but in control. That seems to be the message that is the center piece of the administration talking points.
In a recent interview conducted by Fox News, Carol Browner, Assistant to the President for Energy & Climate was asked very pointed questions regarding the situation in Louisiana. Not one response that she gave offered any reasonable answer to the question. When queried as to why the Governor of Louisiana had only received roughly 20% of the items that he has requested, her response was that the federal team was working with the governor’s office on a daily basis and the role of the federal government was to ration the products such as absorbent booms so that other states involved would have resources. On that basis, we can conclude that although Louisiana is already well into suffering the effects of the spill, needed equipment and products are being withheld pending a need in other states. At first, this concept is a bit irrational and difficult to understand but then one has to remember that the Obama Administration fully supports the concept of shared misery.
Louisiana is desperate to do something now in an attempt to at least save a portion of the marshlands that will surely die out if the oil is allowed to accumulate in those regions. The governor has submitted a plan to build large berms of silt off the coast as a blocking mechanism to the spill and as a shield to the marshland coastal regions. These are areas that support the shrimp and coastal oyster business in the state. Much of the economy of the state will be influence by an environmental disaster is the coastal region of the state. Essentially, the government is telling the governor that he cannot proceed with his plan for the coastal shield. The feds are not discounting the effectiveness of such a plan although the entire build would take six to nine months to build based on the governor’s estimates. The point the feds are making is that it is a decision for the federal government to make and only after it has been studied by the Corp of Engineers and various other involved parties. Thus, if it is a good plan or possibly the only alternative, there will be no starting it until the study is complete. Meanwhile, oil continues to flow into the Louisiana coastline.
The point has been made and remade that British Petroleum is the responsible party in this spill and thus is charged with the responsibility for stopping the flow of the oil, cleaning up the aftermath, and curing the various and sundry associated expenses. Government officials have stated that the fed intends to “keep its boot on their neck” until such time as all of these responsibilities have been fulfilled. There is no argument to the fact that BP is the responsible party, an obvious conclusion. The question lingers as to whether BP has the resources, expertise, determination, dedication, and financial solvency to sustain this responsibility from beginning to end. Government officials are quick to point out that the government does not have the equipment or training to carry out the task thus BP is seemingly the party of choice.
Ms. Browner made a statement in her interview which was somewhat revealing when cast against the backdrop of other commentary by government officials. She stated something to the effect that while British Petroleum is the responsible party and the entity charged with carrying out the technical aspects of this situation, the federal government is still the one “in charge” of the situation. So, on the basis of her statement, are we to believe that the people who are neither trained nor equipped for the job are the ones who are in charge and making decisions. In some circles, this would be described as a recipe for disaster. In government circles, it makes perfect sense.
Given British Petroleum’s less than straight-forward attitude concerning this spill, one must wonder how forthcoming the company will be as this situation develops. Obviously, BP does not seek to walk the brink of financial ruin as a result of this spill. On the other hand, the potential costs of shutting down the oil flow, cleaning up the coastal waters, and making the affected parties whole once again could certainly be a dollar figure beyond the scope of the financial capability of BP. On the basis of straight-forward answers, there is also no one in federal circles willing to specifically say that the federal government will bridge the gap. That might sound lame on the front end, but one must remember the present administration is up to their ears in “emergency spending” measures currently being thrown on the table by a vote-courting Congress. Even hinting at the possibility of government intervention in this situation could raise taxpayer dander to an even higher level than the current one. Thus, the people of Louisiana will just have to wait and see.
The Bush Administration was criticized to no end by the media and the liberal sect for the government’s inability to react in a timely and effective manner in the aftermath of Katrina. Much of that criticism came as a result of those who elected to stay in the New Orleans region after being warned time after time of the dangers of remaining in the path of the hurricane. Never mind that level of stupidity; the government was responsible and the call came for the government to step up and take the reins. Now, here is Louisiana in yet another disaster and very few alternatives that will work with enough speed to eliminate the problem. The Obama Administration and the various camera hogs based in Washington are quick to come to the cameras and offer fresh rhetoric yet slow to offer any comprehensive approach to resolving this dilemma other than to suggest that we wait and see what BP will do. Such inability to respond and take proactive measures far exceeds any shorting comings the Bush Administration may have exhibited in New Orleans.
For the time being, there are some certainties in this situation. They are as follows: BP will continue to bob and weave their way through this mess with the hope of financial survival as their primary goal; the people of Louisiana will be forced to sit back and watch things go to hell or choose to break federal guidelines and invoke their own solutions; and, last but not least, the Obama Administration and the Federal Government will still be “in charge.” No doubt, change has come to America. Any one desiring anything better outcome is just crying over spilled milk.
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