Watch this ABC News report and weep:
ABC calls this segment, “Who’s in Charge?” They may as well have named it “Bureaucrats behaving badly.” To summarize, the Coast Guard ordered 16 barges vacuuming up more than 1.5 million gallons of crude every day (each barge can suck up around 94,000 gallons a day) to shore because of monumental bureaucratic shortsightedness and incompetence.
But the Coast Guard ordered the stoppage because of reasons that Jindal found frustrating. The Coast Guard needed to confirm that there were fire extinguishers and life vests on board, and then it had trouble contacting the people who built the barges.
The governor said he didn’t have the authority to overrule the Coast Guard’s decision, though he said he tried to reach the White House to raise his concerns.
“They promised us they were going to get it done as quickly as possible,” he said. But “every time you talk to someone different at the Coast Guard, you get a different answer.”
No doubt administration apologists will point out that this is indeed, a part of the Coast Guard’s job under normal circumstances. And they would be right – except these are far from normal circumstances and there is absolutely no reason those barges shouldn’t have been able to continue their vital work while the Coast Guard sorted things out. There was no imminent danger of the barges capsizing. There was little hazard of fire. Instead, the Coast Guard ordered the barges to shore and more than 24 vital hours were lost with another day’s damage to the delicate salt marshes and other ecosystems that make up the Louisiana coastal environment.
The telling comment by Jindal – “every time you talk to someone different at the Coast Guard, you get a different answer…” – is multiplied by reports that the EPA, the Coast Guard, and other federal agencies have veto power over anything state governments want to do to protect their coastlines from the spill.
There is a flow chart in the ABC segment of who’s supposed to be in charge of the spill cleanup. Anyone who has seen the organizational chart for health care reform would recognize how such idiotic, nonsensical, unnecessary layer upon layer of bureaucracy can impede efficiency and lead to chaos – something the New York Times remarked upon a few days ago and now ABC confirms.
Tell me this isn’t a government operation:
[Gov] Riley, R-Ala., asked the Coast Guard to find ocean boom tall enough to handle strong waves and protect his shoreline.
The Coast Guard went all the way to Bahrain to find it, but when it came time to deploy it?
“It was picked up and moved to Louisiana,” Riley said today.
The governor said the problem is there’s still no single person giving a “yes” or “no.” While the Gulf Coast governors have developed plans with the Coast Guard’s command center in the Gulf, things begin to shift when other agencies start weighing in, like the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“It’s like this huge committee down there,” Riley said, “and every decision that we try to implement, any one person on that committee has absolute veto power.”
Who’s in charge? Obama says he is, so I suppose we can judge him by how this operation is progressing. Any fair minded, non partisan observer would look at everything that has transpired to date and have to conclude that not only has there been chaos, but given the enormity of what is happening, a narrow minded, incompetent, turf protecting, kingdom building, typical bureaucratic mess is spreading across the Gulf as fast as the oil is gushing out of the hole in the ocean floor. What is needed is outside the box thinking. What we’re getting is jealousy, small minded pettifogging, and the kind of lethargy in decision making that is making this disaster worse than it should be.
President Obama is fond of saying that government should do what people cannot do for themselves. In this case, that axiom can fairly be called into question.