…gang aft agley
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, For promis’d joy!
What is the moral to this story?:
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.
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.
When federal officials called, Elastec/American Marine, shipped the only boom it had in stock, Jeff Bohleber, chief financial officer for Elastec, said today.
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.”
Who’s to blame? Well, the plan without follow-through was hatched during the Clinton administration. But since then there’ve been both the Bush and Obama administrations, although neither president was probably aware of the deficiency in a scheme that called for the use of equipment that was never acquired.
If Bush had been president, however, you can be sure he would be the one most people and the MSM would blame. But I don’t see Obama getting off all that easy, either, when even the New York Times is criticizing him for his delay in reacting to the seriousness of the emergency.
Is the main problem here compartmentalization? Government grown so unwieldy and disconnected that a plan can be hatched with no attempt at actually following through? Is it also the elevation of words over actions—if the report is written and the study done, that is considered enough, without a thought as to what might be needed to actually implement it?
…[F]ormer 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.”
What use is a trigger without a gun?
(But I’m sure the government will do just fine managing health care…)