If there were ever a time to pull out the Ronald Reagan quote “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help,” it would be here and now with this oil spill. Either no one’s in charge or everyone is. Either way, it’s not working and is creating needless delays that waste valuable time to suck up the oil and protect our coastlines.
The latest example of federal government obstruction is the United States Fish and Wildlife Service preventing the state of Louisiana from dredging to build protecting sand berms. Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser immediately sent a letter to President Obama requesting that the work continue. He said, “Once again, our government resource agencies, which are intended to protect us, are now leaving us vulnerable to the destruction of our coastline and marshes by the impending oil. Furthermore, with the threat of hurricanes or tropical storms, we are being put at an increased risk for devastation to our area from the intrusion of oil.”
This comes after sixteen barges (that were effectively sucking up the oil) were shut down for 24 hours as the Coast Guard confirmed that fire extinguishers and life vests were on board. Alabama Governor Bob Riley also voiced his disapproval with the government’s poor synchronization saying, “”It’s like this huge committee down there and every decision that we try to implement, any one person on that committee has absolute veto power.”
We know BP is the party to be held accountable for the oil spill, but our federal government has a responsibility and an important role to play. We’re over two months in and up to this point it’s been a failure. The gulf oil spill presents an unprecedented economic and environmental challenge for our government. Instead of obstructing resources from mitigating the environmental disaster, we need better coordination between all the federal agencies involved.
Nicolas Loris is a Research Assistant at The Heritage Foundation’s Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies. Loris studies energy, environment and regulation issues such as the economic impacts of climate change legislation, a free market approach to nuclear energy and the effects of environmental policy on energy prices and the economy.
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