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All Da King's Men

Another Government Failure Magnifies Oil Spill Disaster

By Da King Published: May 4, 2010

Something I think people of all political stripes can agree upon is this - a primary responsibility of the federal government is to keep us safe, to provide national security.

Yet, it seems the federal government has become involved in so many different areas that it has lost sight of it's legitimate and primary focus. It seems the priorities of the federal government are misplaced. We saw evidence of it in the inferior flood protection in New Orleans. We saw evidence of it in the government-engineered financial crisis. We saw evidence of it in Obama's crazy quilt of a stimulus package.

If you don't believe me about the stimulus package, consider this - the stimulus package, the poster child for wasteful government spending, contained over 57,000 pork projects. It spent over $643,000 for a public housing parking lot in Illinois that nobody wanted. Akron, Ohio got $1.5 million for a suicide prevention fence on the Y-Bridge. Indiana University got $356,000 to study how kids perceive foreign accents. Memphis got $250,000 to repair a dilapidated laundromat. Lexington, Kentucky got $4.7 million for a trail connecting downtown to a horse farm. Florida got $3.4 million for a wildlife eco-passage to transport animals over a roadway. Oklahoma got $1.15 million for a guardrail for a lake that doesn't exist (it's a dry hole). There was $800,000 for the little-used John Murtha Airport (three flights per day, all of them to D.C.). Murtha's airport had already received tens of millions in previous government funding. There was $10 million to renovate an abandoned train station that hadn't been used in 30 years. The town of Union, New York, got a $578,000 grant it did not request for a homelessness problem it claims it does not have. A National Forest in Missouri received $462,000 to replace toilets. The “Microsoft Bridge” in Seattle received $11 million. The bridge connects different areas of the Microsoft campus. Microsoft is estimated to have over $20 billion in cash reserves. Tualatin, Oregon, will spend $2.5 million on a “train-horn-free” zone. Montana’s state-run liquor warehouse will receive $2.2 million in stimulus cash to install skylights. Pawtucket, Rhode Island is spending $550,000 on a skateboard park. Yale and the University of Connecticut are receiving $850,000 in stimulus for research “to study how paying attention improves performance of difficult tasks.” Maine will spend over $1.3 million on “government arts jobs,” including $30,000 for basket makers, $20,000 for story telling, and $12,500 for a music festival. The National Institute of Health is giving Yale University $680,100 in stimulus funds to study the effectiveness of diet and exercise at reducing obesity.

The list of stimulus spending goes on and on and on and on and on. Obama spent money on everything from the mating habits of tree frogs to roadway signs telling us how great the stimulus package was.

But somehow, even with all our incredibly irresponsible exploding government spending and expansion, what follows was left out. And it would have contained the BP oil spill, saving us from a potential environmental disaster.

If U.S. officials had followed up on a 1994 response plan for a major Gulf oil spill, it is possible that the spill could have been kept under control and far from land.

The problem: The federal government did not have a single fire boom on hand.

The "In-Situ Burn" plan produced by federal agencies in 1994 calls for responding to a major oil spill in the Gulf with the immediate use of fire booms.

But in order to conduct a successful test burn eight days after the Deepwater Horizon well began releasing massive amounts of oil into the Gulf, officials had to purchase one from a company in Illinois.

At federal officials' behest, the company began calling customers in other countries and asking if the U.S. government could borrow their fire booms for a few days, he said.

A single fire boom being towed by two boats can burn up to 1,800 barrels of oil an hour, Bohleber said. That translates to 75,000 gallons an hour, raising the possibility that the spill could have been contained at the accident scene 100 miles from shore.

"They said this was the tool of last resort. No, this is absolutely the asset of first use. Get in there and start burning oil before the spill gets out of hand," Bohleber said. "If they had six or seven of these systems in place when this happened and got out there and started burning, it would have significantly lessened the amount of oil that got loose." < former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration oil spill response coordinator Ron Gouguet -- who helped craft the 1994 plan -- told the Press-Register that officials had pre-approval for burning. "The whole reason the plan was created was so we could pull the trigger right away."

Gouguet speculated that burning could have captured 95 percent of the oil as it spilled from the well.

I'm not placing all the blame on Obama, of course. That wouldn't be fair. The government failed to produce the fire booms for sixteen years. It is notable, however, that in a stimulus package that literally threw money in every direction the government could think of, nobody thought of those booms, which would have contained a major oil spill like this one. Is there nobody in government who thinks to prepare for such disasters ? How can that be ? How can we be spending money to study the effects of diet and exercise on obesity (well, DUH) over this ?

Or maybe the government is just hell-bent on destroying Louisiana for some reason. This is the second massive government foulup affecting those poor folks.

Here's the kicker. The cost of the fire booms is a few hundred thousand dollars each. Chicken feed when compared to an $876 BILLION stimulus package.

But at least now we know proper diet and exercise can prevent obesity, and Rhode Island will have it's skateboard park.

Way to prioritize, government.

I can't believe it. The next time you hear a government official say they are doing everything possible to address the BP oil, they didn't. Again.



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