Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Monday, March 28, 2011

While Slowing BP Spill, Administration Slowed Flow of Information Too, Claims Coast Guard Report

Fox News got this one right.
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration failed to set up an "effective" communications system during last year's BP oil spill and threatened its own credibility by "severely restricting" the release of "timely, accurate information," according to a newly released report commissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Quietly posted on the Coast Guard's website two weeks ago, the report offers the first major assessment of the federal government's communications efforts during the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

Information centers in Houma, La., and Mobile, Ala. -- established by the Coast Guard in accordance with pre-set plans for major disasters -- were "effectively muted," the report reads.

Photographs could not be released without Washington's blessing, and Coast Guard officials leading efforts on the ground "were not authorized to conduct media interviews, hold press conferences or send press releases without prior approval from DHS," according to the report.

Asked about the report, sources with knowledge of White House and DHS involvement went even further, saying the administration "looked at this as a political problem, not an operational problem." After all, one source said, the 2010 midterm elections were drawing closer as the oil spill crisis deepened, and the White House "went into campaign mode."

In a statement to Fox News, a Coast Guard spokesman said the newly released report "does not reflect the views of the Coast Guard," but one of the sources with knowledge of White House involvement said it "depends on who you talk to." Essentially, the source said, the oil spill response created "a clash of cultures," with operational needs scraping against political ones.

Nevertheless, the report states the communications system put in place was a departure from prior practice, with White House and DHS officials in Washington becoming gatekeepers to information about developments in the Gulf Coast.

"If any level of the response organization is restricted from interacting with the media and the public in any way, it has the potential to damage the credibility of the Federal Government and erode public trust," the report reads.

In addition, the source who said the White House "looked at this as a political problem, not an operational problem" noted the Bush administration looked through a similar prism and likewise took control of the message during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
"Negative press equals lost votes," the source said. "It's not a political party thing, it's about political operatives and what's in their comfort zone."
The full report is imbedded below and shows failures on many levels to be adequately prepared for a disaster of the magnitude of the BP Spill. In the wake of the ExxonValdez spill, one would think some valuable lessons had been learned, but it appears that was not the case.

Equally troubling is the dismissive attitude of the WH about this CG report:
The administration official, meanwhile, dismissed the report, which offers no direct attribution for its statements, as little more than "an opinion piece." Only six pages of the 167 pages address the issue of "external communications," with the rest of the report analyzing other aspects of the response like other recent reports have. 
"Compared to the meticulously researched and sourced Oil Spill Commission Report (released Wednesday), this one is sufficiently lacking in both and, as such, is being received accordingly," the official said.
Many suspect that the governmental response to the spill was far less than adequate and even though the administration is dismissive in tone, there does appear to be a strong political element to the disaster response. Which leaves us wondering why mid term elections and office position were more important than one of the biggest environmental disasters of our times.

Especially in the Gulf which is the site of hundreds of oil and gas wells, and if someone needs to get oil spill response preparedness right, the Gulf would be at the top of the list.

Yet, permits are still being issued and assurances of renewed responsibility are abundant on the same sub sea containment systems that got us to this disaster in the first place.

Anybody see anything wrong with this picture besides us?
BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Incident Specific Preparedness Review (ISPR) Final Report*
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  1. Everything about it is wrong and has been from Day One.
    Obama's appointed pay master "Master of Disaster Feinberg" asks for and receives an increase of monthly pay from $8K to $1.2 million because "his duties have increased."
    I don't know a soul walking who honestly believes that is the reason for the "pay" (reward) increase.
    Where there are disasters, there will always be unseemly law firms and corporate owned politicians to profit from misery. And they think nothing of doing it on the backs of the populace best interests.

  2. Political expediency and politicians "comfort zones" have no place in responding to disasters, they don't help, they hinder.
    We see that happen time after time don't we?
    Interesting read this is Max.

  3. Bush blew Katrina
    Obama blew the BP Spill
    God help us if we have a nuclear incident during an election run-up.

  4. "If any level of the response organization is restricted from interacting with the media and the public in any way, it has the potential to damage the credibility of the Federal Government and erode public trust," the report reads.

    That would do it alright. That and trying to continually convince everyone that the oil is gone, seafood is safe and life is just a bowl of jellybeans.

  5. I haven't felt good since all of this started, sinus infections, headaches, tingling in my extremities, a lot of my friends are also afflicted with a wide array of symptoms they have never had before in their lives.
    Makes me feel so much better to know that mid term elections were more important than all of us coastal dwellers.
    We have such rat b**tards for leaders, both sides of the aisle.

  6. I don't understand anything this administration does anymore.
    Salazar never met public lands he didn't want to give to big energy, Obama is capitulating on all of his mantra, it's all so upside down.
    Politico had a recent column on the regulatory about face by Obama covered by Stuart Smith on oilspillsction.com:
    Instead of a moratorium or more robust oversight, what’s expected to become law are several pro-drilling rules. Clearly, the Obama Administration is signaling a roll-over on the push for an accelerated pace.

    Sadly, this is to be expected. As a die-hard Dem, it pains me to say so, but this is the Administration of lowball BP spill estimates, suppression of research findings and “vast majority of oil is gone” announcements.

    History tells us that you can’t trust big polluters – but apparently our government is going to anyway.

    What the hell, dems are republicans and republicans are dems? In big energy it seems yes.

  7. “If we don't get the horsepower to be able to process permits under what is now a greater degree of scrutiny, we may never return to the pre-Macondo rate of permitting,” Reuters reported Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as saying.

    And this is bad how exactly??????


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