Rahm Emmanuel said it himself: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

But why continue a crisis or allow a matter to become a crisis through inaction?

One must conclude that the White House wanted the oil spill to continue and wreak havoc on the Gulf coasts of Louisiana and Florida. Nothing substantive was done to stop the spread. A great deal of talking, but nothing more.

No serious effort was made by the U.S. government to stop the flow of oil, whatsoever, despite it being in its power to do so. Few entities have the ability to do anything at 5,000 feet in depth, and the U.S. government is one of the few that can. Despite this, it was more than a week before any NOAA ships sailed.

No submersibles capable of dumping rock or concrete onto the spill and covering it over (like a cairn) were dispatched to stop the flood of oil. If one piles enough rock and/or concrete upon such a well, the weight of the overburden will stop the flow– inelegant, but it would work. No submarines fired wire-guided ADCAP torpedoes into the seabed surrounding the well to break up the concrete and the surrounding rock. Also inelegant, but if the pipe and surrounding rock were broken up badly enough – remember the pressure involved – it would also stop the flow of oil.

Absolutely nothing of substance has been done by the U.S. government to stop the gusher.

All the government has done is to talk about the disaster. To complain. To point fingers. To pontificate. It doesn’t accomplish much.

The spill was not even a priority. Department of the Interior chief of staff Tom Strickland elected to go on vacation in the Grand Canyon, which effectively showed how much the administration cared about the matter. Imagine if one of President Bush’s top federal employees had done the same thing. We’d still be hearing about it a year from now from CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, MSNBC and other networks, using such phrases as “dereliction of duty.”

However, because those media support this administration, the White House is given a pass.

Even preventing the oil from reaching shore has been a matter of talk and no action. Talk was made of starting the oil on fire (not the best option, but better than nothing) and various measures suggested, but little was done.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal asked the government to have the Corps of Engineers push sand into the interstices between the barrier islands as a temporary barrier to oil. It would have been relatively inexpensive and would have prevented the oil from reaching the Louisiana coastline. It was ignored.

Now the oil is on the coastline. Birds, plants, frogs, fish and other creatures are dying. Fisheries will be ruined for at least two to three years after the oil is finally stopped.

So, to recap: We have a federal government that didn’t and hasn’t acted decisively to stop the flow of oil, didn’t act to prevent that oil from reaching the coastline, and now we have an ecological disaster. While the initial responsibility is on the oil companies (assuming the initial explosion and failure of safety equipment was not sabotage), the final responsibility is on President Obama as he had the power all along to stop the disaster from happening at several points and adamantly refused to act. That is on his shoulders.

Funny how this type of inaction by the president resulting in an ecological disaster is OK, but we still hear about Katrina, which was the result of the inaction of the then-governor of Louisiana, the city of New Orleans and, most importantly, the citizens of New Orleans – but President Bush was constantly harangued in the media as if their mistakes were somehow his fault.

Then there is still the possibility that the disaster was deliberate from the onset. Why didn’t the safeguards work? They were multilayered and proven to work on other rigs, having prevented spills for years. Why at same time did a nuclear power plant in New Jersey have a leak? When the president recommends oil and nuclear and then both have disasters, it is unlikely to be a coincidence, particularly when the White House does nothing to stop the oil disaster. Will they also do nothing to stop the problem with the power plant? Only time will tell.

“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

 


William Hunt is a former NOAA scientist and a former Corps of Engineers materials engineering tech. He holds degrees in environmental education, geology and civil engineering technology.

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