Anchor handling tugs battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon. A Coast Guard MH-65C dolphin rescue helicopter and crew document the fire aboard the mobile offshore drilling unit Deepwater Horizon, while searching for survivors. Multiple Coast Guard helicopters, planes and cutters responded to rescue the Deepwater Horizon's 126 person crew.
The left was quick to point their finger at George Bush following the devastation in Mississippi and Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. Initially, I was reluctant to lay any blame on the Obama administration after the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf and the current oil leak situation they are dealing with even as I write this. I didn't want to point my finger in the wrong direction and simply hadn't had enough information to make any judgments. However, it's starting to become apparent that the Obama Administration has been just as effective in dealing with this situation as they are maintaining good relations with our allies.
Ron Gouget, the former manager for Louisiana's oil response team told a local Alabama news service that federal officials had missed "a narrow window of opportunity to gain control of the spill by burning last week, before the spill spread hundreds of miles across the Gulf, and before winds began blowing toward shore." Gouget was a member of the group that created the plan in 1994 designed to ensure that federal responders can begin burning oil as soon as a major leak happens and without being slowed down by a bureaucratic approval process. He said:
"They had pre-approval. The whole reason the plan was created was so we could pull the trigger right away instead of waiting ten days to get permission. If you read the pre-approval plan, it speaks about Grand Isle, where the spill is. When the wind is blowing offshore out of the north, you have preapproval to burn in that region. If the wind is coming onshore, like it is now, you can't burn at Grand Isle. They waited to do the test burn until the wind started coming onshore."
When they asked Gouget why federal officials had waited a whole week before conducting a test burn, he said, "Good question. Maybe complacency was the biggest issue. They probably didn't have the materials on hand to conduct the burn, which is unconscionable."
He also points out that the Lousiana Unified Command Center "know how to respond to spills, and know burning should have started as soon as possible after the initial release was detected." Gouget said "they may have been overruled." He goes on:
"It may have been a political issue. The burn would make a big big plume and lots of soot. Like Valdez, the decisions to get the resources mobilized may not have occurred until it was too late. This whole thing has been a daily strip tease. At first they thought it was just the diesel, then they said the well wasn't leaking. It's unfortunate they didn't get the burning going right away. They could have gotten 90 percent of the oil before it spread."
"I keep reading that burning will only get a small portion of the oil. Not true. This one is a continuing release," ... "bright, fresh oil that should burn fairly easily."
"The bottom line, the limiting factor on burning is can you get it to burn. If it gets too thin, like a sheen, it won't burn because you don't have a fuel,"
"Generally, it's got to be thick enough, and it can't be too weathered. This stuff is weathering immediately coming out of the pipe, losing the volatiles that burn most easily. They've got to get to it right away."
So, according to Mr. Gouget it is very likely that officials who were trained and prepared to deal with this situation where probably overruled by others, no doubt focused on the political ramifications of taking drastic action to get this under control. As with most things the federal government gets involved with, it may have made a big mess, massive. Time will tell and I just hope any investigations into this disaster are done fairly and without providing cover for those who may have stepped in the way with detrimental results.
Meanwhile, the talking heads and chattering class are discussing oil drilling as an issue, some even calling it the "death knell" Of "drill baby drill." I think that is a ridiculous, knee-jerk reaction to a horrible disaster. To steal a phrase from Obama, "like it or not" oil is the lifeblood of this country, as it is with any industrialized nation. Without it, we are a shell of what we are with it. As Governor Palin points out so often, oil is directly linked to so many important issues that directly effect all of us. It is tied to security and prosperity, in a way no other resource ever could be.
In the Facebook statement she posted on this matter last week, she continued to stand strong in support of domestic drilling. She said:
"No human endeavor is ever without risk – whether it’s sending a man to the moon or extracting the necessary resources to fuel our civilization. I repeat the slogan “drill here, drill now” not out of naiveté or disregard for the tragic consequences of oil spills – my family and my state and I know firsthand those consequences. How could I still believe in drilling America’s domestic supply of energy after having seen the devastation of the Exxon-Valdez spill? I continue to believe in it because increased domestic oil production will make us a more secure, prosperous, and peaceful nation."
If we let this change our priorities and continue the cycle of foreign dependence, we will have have turned a terrible event into a long lasting tribute to bad decisions.
This disaster has been horrific to watch and I have a very bad feeling that things are going to get much worse before they get better. Nothing has been proven yet to implicate the Obama Administration actions directly effected the outcome of the series of events that followed the initial explosion on the rig. If Mr. Gouget is right, people must be held accountable and changes must be made to ensure that this never happens again. We will see how this all pans out, but this could very well be Obama's own Katrina.