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

US Storm Falls Short of Severe Predictions, Yet Affects Millions

Governors of several East Coast states close schools, order travel bans, urge people to stay home as snowfall, heavy winds, flooding continue in areas More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle with Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people were displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid