Obama’s competence is limited – Gulf oil spill

OK. I waited one day to discuss the administration’s competence ! Let’s look at what the government didn’t do to help alleviate the effects of the Gulf oil spill. Three days after the rig exploded, the Dutch offered skimmers to help clean up the spill. The Dutch have hundreds of years experience managing things close to shore. Other foreign countries offered to help, as well. Did the administration welcome them with open arms? Not exactly:

After initially refusing to name them, the State Department on May 5 declared that 11 other countries and the UN also had offered skimmer boats and other assets and experts to prevent the oil from destroying dolphins, crabs, oysters, and this disaster’s other defenseless victims.

Alas, they were turned away in a State Department statement.

“While there is no need right now that the U.S. cannot meet, the U.S. Coast Guard is assessing these offers of assistance to see if there will be something which we will need in the near future.” Foreign Policy’s Josh Rogin translated this into plain English: “The current message to foreign governments is: “Thanks but no thanks, we’ve got it covered.'”

Whether this is due to the 1920 Jones act requiring US ships and crews to move cargo between US ports is unclear. What is clear is that one  sensible approach,vacuuming up oily water, letting the oil and water separate, and pumping the water back into the Gulf, is not being used because of stupid government regulations. The EPA prohibits releasing water with any oil. Never mind that replacing very oily water that you can suction with water with miniscule amounts of oil is a good thing.

And what the government has done – halting all deepwater drilling for 6 months – is both stupid policy and was done in the most underhanded way. The administration asked experts to review offshore drilling safety, then announced this policy and said the experts approved it. Problem is, they didn’t – the administration lied – and it actually reduces safety.

Salazar’s May 27 report to President Barack Obama said a panel of seven experts “peer reviewed” his recommendations, which included a six-month moratorium on all ongoing drilling in waters deeper than 500 feet. That prohibition took effect a few days later, but the angry panel members and some others who contributed to the Salazar report said they had only reviewed an earlier version of the Interior secretary’s report that suggested a six-month moratorium only on new drilling, and then only in waters deeper than 1,000 feet.

The problem with this policy is it leaves wells in the process of being drilled in limbo. It is much riskier to restart a well. The state of the well could have changed, and you probably won’t have the same people working on it with intimate knowledge of its condition – firsthand knowledge is always better than what was documented. And you will have driven experienced people out of the business since they have to feed their families in the next six months. Which is why the experts agreed with the moratorium on new drilling only.

More later on why this administration is incompetent.

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