Louisiana oil disaster: Pointing fingers in the dark

This post was originally posted on my other site, TerraCurve.com. I am including it here because, well, I felt like it.

With all the talk in recent days surrounding the idea of federal controls placed over corporate practices and responsibilities  combined with the White House’s recent lift on offshore drilling, the current ongoing oil disaster could not have come at a more ironic time.

British Petroleum (BP), the oil giant whose contracted rig exploded, causing one of the worst oil disasters in history, has thus far botched the cleanup effort.

Each attempt to stop the spewing of toxic sludge into the water has failed, while residents and wildlife throughout the affected area are waking each day to blacker and blacker coastlines and wetlands while subjected to harmful toxins.

The oil company continued to empty toxic dispersant into the Gulf of Mexico – a method that actually defies an US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) order –  while citing “data protection” regulations to keep details of the dispersant’s content secret.

Meanwhile, as residents are up in arms over BP’s response, local and state government officials (including Republican Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal) are actually calling for the Federal government to override BP’s response and take ownership of the situation – something that seems to completely go against the Governor’s party agenda as well as the Governor’s stance on offshore drilling.

Taking sides, or having it both ways?

Residents and relief workers on the ground and in the waters are complaining that they are being made to seek formal permission for their efforts, resulting in critical delays.

Millions of feet of protective boom requested weeks ago have not arrived. Fishing boats commissioned by BP to help to set up defences remain idle, prompting parish officials in Louisiana to commandeer 30.

To make matters worse, it seems that the Federal government has found itself in gridlock – fumbling over whether or not they even know who to blame for the disaster, as well as who exactly should be taking on the burden of the cleanup – forcing state officials to come out and challenge Washington.

So far, local officials are still waiting on a permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers to start creating offshore sand barriers to help guard the shores from the spill.

“I urge you to take counsel with others in the [White House] Administration . . . before allowing the New Orleans District to provoke an unnecessary constitutional confrontation between state and federal governments at a time that we all ought to rise above petty jurisdictional concerns to work together to prevent an unprecedented environmental disaster in the making,” wrote Buddy Caldwell, the attorney-general of Louisiana, in a letter to the commanding general of the Army Corps of Engineers.

“Either the coastguard has to side with its American citizens and protect its communities,” said Craig Taffaro, president of the St Bernard Parish in Louisiana,  “or it has to side with a major world corporation named BP and betray American citizens in that process.”

Meanwhile, Republican Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has come out to state that he and others were “taking matters into our own hands” in an effort to do what the Federal Government has not – push BP aside and take control over the cleanup process.

This is coming from the same Governor who opposed the American Recovery Act of 2009, citing it as an “irresponsible” way to put more “power in hands of Washington politicians” – then accepted over $2.4 billion from the stimulus package to promote jobs in Louisiana.

Also, in 2006, Jindal sponsored the Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act –  a bill to allow offshore oil and gas drilling over the U.S. outer continental shelf – arguing that 30-40% of oil reserves of the United States are near the Louisiana coast and increased drilling would reduce American dependence on foreign oil.

Fast forward to the present day, and the very same Governor is complaining that Louisiana’s beautiful, precious wetlands and resources are falling victim to the very issue that he helped support – while blaming the Federal government for not doing enough to protect it.