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Friday, June 18, 2010

We Need To Declare War On The Gulf Oil Spill

After listening to President Obama's mealy mouth, woefully poor speech the other night, I woke up last night thinking about what I would have said had I been in the Oval Office. My approach would have been to "declare war on the spill' bringing together all the creativity and "get er done" attitude that exemplifies the American spirit and exceptional ism. Here are some of the points that I would have covered:

a. I would immediately establish a clearing house for ideas on cleaning up the oil. Suggestions would be submitted to a committee of marine and environmental engineers with the instructions to encourage "out of the box" solutions. Decisions would be given an immediate yes or no in no less than a week. If the decision was positive, the entrepreneur suggesting the plan would be given a week to be on scene in the Gulf at an assigned location. He/she would be given a week for initial progress report. An evaluation would be made if there would be additional time given. If successful, payment would be based upon several criteria all depending the amount of oil removed from the Gulf.

We have already seen many ideas by people like Kevin Costner who has developed a machine to remove oil from water. When the leak occurred, he called the White House and offered his machines, he was rebuffed. I understand that BP has now ordered 30+ machines now. This is just one example of machines available now which could have helped to minimize the damage to the Gulf. Did we hear anything like that from the President?

b. I would immediately authorize ships from around the world to work on the oil spill. At last count there were over 3o nations that offered oil skimmers, ships and equipment to help control the spill. Obama has told them, no.

c. I would immediately authorize the dredging of the Gulf and creating berms to prevent the oil from getting into the marshes. Bobby Jindal, the Governor of Louisiana has been asking for this for weeks. Why did it take weeks?

d. I would authorize payment to the shrimpers and crabbers in Louisiana and Florida to use their boats to put out the booms and to assist the people who were approved by the clearinghouse. Why are we we not using these boats already in the area? Also why is the firm in Maine, not being allowed to ship the booms they have made? We need all hands on deck whereever they live.

e. I would authorize the use unemployed workers to clean beaches, birds and do whatever work was necessary to return the Gulf to its previous condition. Why are we not encouraging the unemployed to work on a project? Is this not a "shovel ready" project? We could use them to monitor the work being done by the project approved by the clearinghouse. We already are paying them unemployment, it would not cost us any more. We might also move some of the FEMA trailers from New Orleans to house these people.

f. I would immediately authorize the continued drilling in the Gulf. Any platform that was in place would continue. All drilling would continue under strict Coast Guard and Mineral review.

g. I would immediately order the Coast Guard to inspect all skimmers operating in the Gulf for safety. These inspections would be done while the skimmers were in operation. If there were not enough life vests or fire extinguishers or other equipment, they would be provided by the government. There should be no suspension of work while these inspections are on going.

h. I would authorize a non-governmental investigation of the cause of the fire on the rig. No government wonks blowing smoke. We need to find out why the fire started, why the fire was not allowed to burn and why the rig was sunk. We also need to find out what procedures should be in place on similar platforms and what preventative measures should be taken anytime we are drilling in these deep waters. The investigation must be done by those who have in depth knowledge of drilling rigs operating in deep water. For example, it should include everyday people like tool pushers who understand that operation . BP should also be represented.

i. And lastly, I would have never talked about cap and trade at this time. We are in a war. A war with an enemy that keeps oozing to the surface, covering the Gulf with the black goo and killing birds and other marine life. We can beat this enemy but it will take the same imagination and determination that Americans showed in the early days of WWII. We cannot do it by creating new government programs. We cannot do it when we stop local governments from acting in the interests of their citizens. We must break down the bureaucracy, get it out of the way. We cannot do it with off-the-shelf ideas, we need creativity. We must be willing to try new ideas, new remedies and yes, maybe seemingly crazy plans. We can do it but we need a leader to express the American exceptional ism that I know there is.

President Obama failed on all levels. He did not inspire, he did not have a plan, and he had no new ideas. All he has is more government programs. I do not know about you, but for me, Americans have always been able to conquer adversity if only allowed to do it on their own. It is time the President learned that.