Sunday, June 27, 2010

'Everybody’s in Charge, So No One’s in Charge'

So how's that Gulf oil spill cleanup coming along? Uh, well, nothing seems to be happening. One can imagine 24/7 coverage of the lack of action had this happened during the Bush administration, but it seems as if much of the media has taken a pass at noting the lack of progress. Maybe if the movers and shakers on the late unlamented JournoList suggested Obama take action things would have been cleaned up by now.
A morning flight over the Mississippi Sound showed long, wide ribbons of orange-colored oil for as far as the eye could see and acres of both heavy and light sheen moving into the Sound between the barrier islands. What was missing was any sign of skimming operations from Horn Island to Pass Christian.

U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor got off the flight angry.

"It’s criminal what’s going on out there," Taylor said minutes later. "This doesn’t have to happen.”

A scientist onboard, Mike Carron with the Northern Gulf Institute, said with this scenario, there will be oil on the beaches of the mainland.

“There’s oil in the Sound and there was no skimming,” Carron said. “No coordinated effort.”

Taylor said it was a good thing he didn’t have a mic in the helicopter, because he might have said some things he didn’t want his children to hear.

“They’re paying all these boats to run around like headless chickens,” Taylor said, as reporters gathered to hear his assessment of the Sound.

There has been hope among state officials the islands would stop a lot of the oil and skimmers could take care of the passes or breaks between the islands.

Horn Island was doing its part Saturday, observers pointed out. The wiggly lines of sheen were coming straight at it from the south, headed for the island’s southern beaches. The island had boom in place to protect the inlets and sensitive wetlands along its northern shore, the side that faces the mainland.

Even the Pascagoula River was doing its part.

Carron pointed out the line where the river’s fresh water met the Sound’s salt water near Horn Island. All along the line was the orange oil caught between the two types of water and held at bay.

But where the failure came was in the human effort.

There were dozens of boats of all sizes running around, some leaving trails through the sheen. Two boats among a group near Ship Island were pulling boom in a line, but not using it to round up oil. That was at 10 a.m.

Taylor slipped a note to a fellow passenger.

It said: “I’m having a Katrina flashback. I haven’t seen this much stupidity, wasted effort, money and wasted resources, since then.”

Back on land in Gulfport, Taylor let loose.

“A lot of people are getting paid to say, ‘Look! There’s oil’ and not doing anything about it,” Taylor said. “There shouldn’t be a drop of oil in the Sound. There are enough boats running around.

“Nobody’s in charge,” Taylor said. “Everybody’s in charge, so no one’s in charge.

“If the president can’t find anyone who can do this job,” he said, “let me do it.”

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