under federal law it is HIS primary responsibility to contain and clean up the spill?
Meanwhile, an extensive report from the New Orleans Times Picayune details how few skimming boats are working on the spill:
Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the national incident commander for the oil spill, acknowledged recently that "Skimmers are our critical mass right now. We need to put those wherever we can get them. And we want to get them from wherever they are available."We have a Commander in Chief who is more interested in playing golf rather than cutting red tape and an Attorney General who spends his time threatening to sue Arizona and BP instead of working out the legal technicalities that would make more skimming help available. On Tuesday, there was an emergency rule change which may free up some skimming boats. But don't hold your breath. Besides, that rule change is so long overdue it's criminal.
According to the latest numbers from BP, 433 vessels are collecting oil in the Gulf, but less than a third of those are specialized boats designed specifically for oil skimming.
On the Senate floor last week, Sen. George LeMieux, R-Fla., pointed to a Coast Guard map detailing more than 850 skimmers available in the southeastern United States -- and more than 1,600 available in the continental United States.
The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 requires regions to have minimum levels of equipment such as boom and skimmers, making it difficult for every oil-fighting resource to be directed to the Gulf of Mexico.
Allen acknowledged the hurdle last week, saying that there are "discussions we're having across the entire country where we have equipment that's out there as a requirement -- legal requirement to cover spill response of those areas -- and how we might free those up. That's a work in progress inside the administration right now."
And a French company offered skimmers soon after the disaster but were put on hold. Also from the Times Picayune article:
Vial of Ecoceane, the French oil spill response company, said the Jones Act and other difficulties getting through to BP prevented his company from putting boats to work sooner. He has boats that could work offshore, but also smaller models that would be best suited in shallower inland waters within the three-mile limit.
"We could have sent boats earlier, but we wanted to make sure that if we sent our boats, they could be used in the U.S., because of the Jones Act," Vial said in an interview translated from French.
In the end, he sold nine of the spill response boats to a Florida company last week, which made them American boats and circumvented the problems with the Jones Act.
And Shell Oil Company offered BP use of their mammoth 300 foot skimmer Nanuq but BP has still not accepted the offer.
Dutch skimming help was also rejected in part because of the Jone's Act but also because the boats would discharge a tiny percentage of oil back into the water even while picking up the vast majority. From the Financial Post:
Why does neither the U.S. government nor U.S. energy companies have on hand the cleanup technology available in Europe? Ironically, the superior European technology runs afoul of U.S. environmental rules. The voracious Dutch vessels, for example, continuously suck up vast quantities of oily water, extract most of the oil and then spit overboard vast quantities of nearly oil-free water. Nearly oil-free isn't good enough for the U.S. regulators, who have a standard of 15 parts per million -- if water isn't at least 99.9985% pure, it may not be returned to the Gulf of Mexico.So instead of capturing nearly all of the oil and sparing beaches and wildlife, U.S. environmental regulations are causing mass destruction. Here again, an engaged Commander in Chief could put this situation right but either Obama is incompetent, or is unwilling to do so.
And then there is this:
“A Whale” – World’s Largest Oil Skimmer Waiting on EPA and Coast Guard ApprovalObama called the fight against this oil spill a "war." But it seems to be a war in which we are fighting with one hand tied behind our backs and one foot stuck in a bucket of cement. If this is how Obama fights a war, no wonder we are having so much trouble in Afghanistan!
A Taiwanese-owned, Liberian-flagged tanker, the A Whale, has been modified for skimming up to 500,000 barrels of oil-contaminated water a day. To put this in context, if the system works as intended, it could skim in less than two days an amount of oil equal to all the oil skimmed in the past 7o days of the ongoing Deepwater Horizon spill. The A Whale is designed to operate offshore where most skimmers have difficulty operating. It is currently in Norfolk, VA awaiting approval of separate waivers from the Coast Guard and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to allow it to begin testing. Because the A Whale would be operating well offshore it is not believed to require a Jones Act Waiver.