Gulf Clean-up Solutions

June 19th, 2010

By Tom Carter

As noted in an earlier article, the actor Kevin Costner started a company 17 years ago with his own money to develop equipment that could separate oil from water.  The problem was, he couldn’t generate any interest either in government or private industry.

Looks now like that may be changing.  According to this report, Costner and BP have signed a contract to put 32 of his company’s units to work in the Gulf.  This is nowhere near a complete solution, and it’s very late coming.  Still, progress is progress, I suppose, no matter how little or how late.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has made impressive efforts to help his state fight the oil spill.  One of his initiatives was to deploy 16 vacuum barges designed by the Louisiana National Guard.  This low-tech solution was simply a matter of taking the barges out and sucking oil off the water.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal on a Vacuum BargeBut the work of the Governor’s barges has been hampered by the Coast Guard.  Earlier this week, they sat idle for an entire day because the Coast Guard had to inspect them for safety — life preservers, etc.  Fine.  But one would think that the Coast Guard would get that done immediately so work could continue unimpeded.  Even now, though, there are still problems getting the inspections done, and the Governor is more than a little irritated and is making it known.  Good for him.

I lived in South Louisiana, Cajun country, for a few years as a kid and then again as a young adult.  I love the people and their culture, and in addition to traveling throughout the region on the ground, I’ve flown in small airplanes all over the Gulf coastal area from New Orleans west to the Texas border.  It’s a beautiful area, bountiful with wildlife and ecologically fragile.  We simply have to protect this area; losing it isn’t an option.

In addition to the coastal areas of Louisiana, the oil spill will likely devastate the fishing and tourism industries in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama and maybe in Florida, too.  The economic losses, including huge numbers of jobs, will be severe and long-lasting.  Everything that can be done to prevent or at least minimize this has to be done.  It’s too late to say it has to be done quickly; we’ve already missed that one.  But it isn’t too late to do everything possible from this point forward, to include employing innovative solutions like Costner’s and Jindal’s as quickly as possible and without bureaucratic obstacles.

In the wake of this disaster, it’s going to be too easy to decry offshore drilling and demand that it be stopped.  We’ll hear this from politicians and environmentalists who are either at a loss for valid responses or who are using the disaster to further their standard agendas.  We can’t let that happen.  We have to have the oil from offshore wells, and we have to learn the difference between normal offshore drilling and deepwater drilling.  Beyond that, the oil industry is also a huge part of the Gulf coast economy, with many jobs dependent on it.

Fix the problem, do it soon, and keep a grip on reality in the process.  There’s no room for partisan politics or grandstanding and finger-pointing.  Those who engage in such counter-productive activities are part of the problem.

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Categories: Economics, News, Politics | Comments (5) | Home

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5 Responses to “Gulf Clean-up Solutions”

  1. larry ennis |

    I could not have said it better.
    The very thought that political gain could even enter the picture in such a tragedy repulses me.
    The current Rahm Emanual notion that no good crisis should go un-used makes me uneasy to say the least.

  2. Dan Miller |

    Here is a summarized listing of foreign offers of assistance since the Deepwater incident. Most remain “under consideration.”

  3. Dan Miller |

    Waiver of the “1920 Jones Act, a protectionist law that prohibits foreign-flagged boats and crews from doing port-to-port duty within 3 miles of the US coast,” just might be more of a political issue than it should be in the present context.

  4. Tom Carter |

    This mess is a tragedy of epic proportions, particular for those who live in the Gulf coast region and have their livelihoods tied to that economy.

    I’m getting pretty disgusted by people who can’t seem to get their minds out of partisan politics long enough to think about positive contributions to solving the problem. “Hey, there’s this big oil thing going on — let’s attack Obama! Let’s jump on Rahm Emanuel! Let’s blubble on and on about big government!” Anyone with half a brain knows that this problem, and the difficulties of dealing with it, aren’t problems that suddenly popped up after January 2009. You can go a long way back through Democratic and Republican administrations if you think it’s necessary to dwell on causes rather than solutions. And anyone with any brain at all knows that Obama didn’t cause the problem and can’t fix it, just like Bush didn’t cause Katrina and couldn’t fix it.

  5. Tom Carter |

    I saw Kevin Costner interviewed by Larry King yesterday. Costner made a very good, and very disturbing, point. He said we should stop referring to this disaster as a “worst case scenario.” It’s possible that three, or four, or five, or more of these kinds of things could happen at about the same time in more or less the same area, like the Gulf of Mexico. Or maybe a couple of blow-outs at about the same time, along with a large tanker accident. When you consider the number of offshore rigs operating in the Gulf, many of them outside U.S. waters and not under U.S. control, and the amount of shipping in the area the possibilities are frightening.

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