Energy & Environment

Obama is Kicking Louisiana’s Ass

President Obama announced on national television recently that he was looking for an ass to kick. Well, it seems he found one, the State of Louisiana. 

During his address this week to the nation from the Oval Office, the President made clear that he will not offer real help to the struggling people of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. In his speech, he presented no specific action plans and instead relied on lame platitudes. In contrast, he made clear his support for a destructive national energy tax and a horrible cap-and-trade energy bill, which will devastate Louisiana’s economy. Obama is using the tragedy of the oil spill to further his political agenda, all at the expense of Louisiana jobs. 

To make matters worse, the President has issued a six-month moratorium on offshore drilling in deep water, which will cost Louisiana 154,000 good paying jobs, according to Sen. David Vitter (R.-La.). Incredibly, the President told Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph that his plan for those losing their jobs is to “put them on unemployment.” This is not a strategy for recovery; it is a prescription for the destruction of Louisiana. 

In implementing the moratorium, the President ignored the recommendations of his own science experts. Instead, he heeded the demands of radical environmentalists, who have succeeded in forcing oil companies to drill in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Shallow water and onshore prospects have become very expensive to pursue because of oppressive environmental regulations. The President’s ban will force more oil companies to abandon the state and send their rigs and the jobs to friendlier countries. 

Not surprisingly, Louisiana residents view Obama’s response to the oil spill more negatively than President Bush’s actions after Hurricane Katrina. In a new survey from Public Policy Polling, only 32% of Louisianans approve of how Obama has handled the oil spill, while 62% express disapproval. Bush’s Katrina response merited the approval of 34% and the disapproval of 58% of those surveyed. 

Louisiana residents see a President dithering on the Gulf crisis, while focusing on sporting events, vacations, golfing, and parties at the White House. They see a President who met with Paul McCartney, Bono and the U.S. soccer team before meeting with the corporate leaders of BP. 

Instead of showing leadership and waiving the Jones Act, which prohibits the use of foreign ships in the oil spill clean-up, the President has refused to act. During Katrina, President Bush waived this act, but Obama has not followed his example. Thus, legitimate offers of help from at least 15 countries, such as European dredging companies, have been ignored because the President has not waived this act. The losers are the people of Louisiana and the other Gulf Coast states that are seeing oil spoil their beaches and destroy their wildlife. 

In his speech, the President did not offer any solutions to the bureaucratic nightmare that is preventing local and state leaders from effectively battling this threat. Last week, Louisiana officials testified on Capitol Hill about the many roadblocks preventing progress in responding to the oil spill crisis. They mentioned red tape and bureaucracy and the lack of quick decision making. Decisions are not made, requests are stalled and local leaders are becoming more frustrated each day. 

All of the problems are hindering progress and contributing to the disaster that is destroying our vulnerable wetlands. Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser told a congressional committee that “I still don’t know who is in charge.” Is it BP or the federal government? Is it BP CEO Tony Hayward or incident commander Admiral Thad Allen? 
  
Ultimately, the person in charge is President Barack Obama, who could remove BP and assume control over this whole operation if he wanted. For some reason, Obama has been reluctant to deal with this crisis in a decisive manner. In the meantime, there is no clear chain of command in dealing with this emergency. The result is that the crisis is worsening, the marshes are dying and the people along coastal Louisiana are growing desperate. 

Incredibly, local leaders who have tried to take action without approval have been threatened with arrest. Gov. Bobby Jindal has had enough and has authorized the Louisiana National Guard to construct sand barrier islands to protect the coastline from additional oil-related damage. Others leaders need to follow his example, to hell with the threats. 

It is clear that in this crisis, just like Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana cannot depend on the federal government or any multi-national corporation to rescue us. We must rescue ourselves and act as independently as possible. Depending on the Obama Administration is a recipe for disaster. Nungesser said it takes five days for questions to be answered by Adm. Allen. He called the process “much too slow,” but that is typical of the federal government which never acts quickly and is much too unwieldy and bureaucratic. 

While the clean-up process is stalled, the crisis is escalating. The latest estimate shows that 60,000 barrels of oil is polluting the Gulf of Mexico every day. This is 60 times the initial estimate, so it is understandable if Gulf Coast residents are leery to accept the promises of President Obama and other federal officials.   

It is inexcusable for the federal government to create more problems for local and state leaders who are already under siege. Instead of creating road blocks, the Obama Administration should give local and state officials the authority to fight this menace. 

And, any ass kicking should be directed toward the people who deserve it, BP and incompetent federal bureaucrats, not the struggling people of Louisiana. 

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