News / USA

Gulf Coast Officials Call for Leadership in Oil Spill Response

Local mayors and parish leaders from parts of Louisiana devastated by the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico testified before a Senate Homeland Security panel Thursday. The local leaders blasted the response by oil company BP and the federal government and called on Congress to establish clear lines of authority in dealing with the crisis.  

A Senate homeland security subcommittee held a hearing Thursday to assess the local impact of an oil spill caused by the explosion of a Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

The President of Lousiana's Plaquemines Parish, Billy Nungesser, called on President Barack Obama to put someone with courage in charge of the response to the massive spill, saying someone has to be able to take action much more quickly. "I still don't know who is in charge - is it BP, is it the Coast Guard?  When I get mad enough at a meeting, the Coast Guard in our office stands up and says 'I can make that happen'."  When I throw a BP official out of my office, he comes back the next day and approves something.  I have spent more time fighting the officials of BP and the Coast Guard than fighting the oil," he said.

The parish leader called on BP and the federal government to quickly deploy more boats with vacuuming equipment to suction up oil from the fragile marshlands in his parish.   And Nungesser said it was an insult when officials simply fly over the oil-coated waters.  "You can't see it from the air.  You got to go down there and touch it.  You got to pull into that marsh and see there is absolutely no life, everything is dead.  I will make you a prediction; we will lose more coastline from this disaster in Louisiana than we lost from [Hurricanes] Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike combined," he said.

Another local leader, David Camardelle, the mayor of the barrier island community, Grand Isle, said people in Louisiana are better equipped to deal with the ravages of a hurricane than this massive, man-made disaster. "Anyone in Louisiana can protect anybody from hurricanes.  I told the president that, you send me anywhere in the world, you give me 10 days, I can make a difference with hurricanes.  But right now, my hands are tied.  I am dealing with an oil company; we have no say-so," he said.

Democratic Senator Bill Nelson of Florida agreed with the local leaders present at the hearing that it is not clear who is in charge of the response operation.  He said that officials in Florida were not even warned Wednesday when oil began entering Florida's waters.  Nelson called for the U.S. military to take a greater role in the response effort, saying it has the best command-and-control system in the world.  He said the way things are running now is not acceptable.

"How many more examples of this do we have to say until the command-and-control structure is changed.  You cannot leave BP in control of this, because they are not going to get it done," he said.

Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen is leading the federal response to the spill.  He said on Thursday that he and other government officials would meet with BP to discuss damage claims problems.  Out-of-work oil rig crews, shrimpers, oystermen, seafood businesses and others affected by the spill are complaining that they are waiting to be compensated by BP for their loss of income.  At the hearing Thursday, the Vice President of Strategy for BP America, Raymond Dempsey, defended his company's response.

"Senator, I will assure you that BP is not delaying the delivery of resources to support this response.  It is important to note that in the unified command structure there is indeed a decision-making process.  As part of that unified command, we have to operate within that process, and we are supportive of providing all the resources necessary to address this spill," he said.

Dempsey said it is clear that Admiral Allen is in charge of the response efforts, and that BP has already paid some 20,000 claims and spent a total of about $1.4 billion to date on damages and the clean-up effort.  Congress is continuing to hold hearings on the oil spill, and President Obama met with leaders of both houses of Congress to discuss the disaster Thursday.

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More