Monday, June 28, 2010

Times-Picayune: Red tape keeps prized oil-fighting skimmers from Gulf

Welcome to the Gulf Coast, Mr. Vice President. You're visiting Pomes Seafood tomorrow in one of the seafood capitals of the world.  This lunch is on us, if you can give us some oil skimmers.

We've already seen legitimate questions about why promising technologies haven't been deployed in the Gulf of Mexico.  In tomorrow's New Orleans Times-Picayune comes a bombshell of a revelation:

Just weeks after the oil spill crisis began to unfold in the Gulf of Mexico, the French  foreign minister volunteered a fleet of oil skimming boats from a French company,  Ecoceane. A month later, in early June, Ecoceane Chief Executive Eric Vial met with BP and Coast Guard officials to present the idea.
But after that meeting, weeks went by with little contact as oil continued gushing into the Gulf. A frustrated Vial was able to get around the bureacracy last week only when his company sold nine of the oil collection boats to a private contractor in Florida, who could then put the boats to work.
Oil giant Shell was in negotiations to let BP use the Nanuq, a 300-foot oil recovery boat sitting idle in Seward, Alaska. But in recent weeks, BP declined to bring it to the Gulf.
But federal response officials have been pressed for more than a week to streamline U.S. maritime restrictions that would allow more foreign skimming vessels to be put to work on the spill. And the Coast Guard and BP have been taken to task for not bringing more available U.S. skimmers to the Gulf spill.
According to the latest numbers from BP, 433 vessles are collecting oil in, the Gulf, but less than a third of those are specialized boats designed specifically for oil skimming.
On the Senate floor last week, Sen. George LeMieux, R-Fla., pointed to a Coast Guard map detailing more than 850 skimmers available in the southeastern United States -- and more than 1,600 available in the continental United States.

The question begs asking: Why are these vessels not already in the Gulf of Mexico, collecting oil before it washes ashore, destroying fisheries and wrecking tourism?  Will someone risk being called a smart-ass, and ask the Vice President why we can't get a few state-of-the-art skimmers down here?

Gimme some feedback in the comments.


Vincent Werber said...

Red Tape? The President could remove all red tape with three words: 'make it happen' but he has bigger things on his mind like not letting a good crisis go to waste.

He has 30 million votes he needs to make 'legal' before the next two election cycles... he has much better things to do also... like working on his golf game...

BTW BP called on the Maine DEP to send down help... last week!!! But hey it took awhile to find the phone number...

Now The Prez might be praying for total civil disorder... that would really hide his motives...


David L. said...

It looks like he's finally gotten the message. Wire reports say the government is accepting 22 offers of help from 12 foreign governments and international agencies. Let's see how much help actually gets through...

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