Oil Spill Cleanup Efforts in Alabama: An Exegesis of Governmental Ineptitude

The Gulf oil spill has illuminated chilling realities about our federal government’s incapability to handle genuine crises. Without a doubt, local officials in the Gulf region have been quicker and more resourceful in their handling of the disaster and the federal government has been a huge impediment. Dick Morris explained how the federal bureaucracy has greatly harmed cleanup efforts:

According to state disaster relief officials, Alabama conceived a plan — early on — to erect huge booms offshore to shield the approximately 200 miles of the state’s coastline from oil. Rather than install the relatively light and shallow booms in use elsewhere, the state (with assistance from the Coast Guard) canvassed the world and located enough huge, heavy booms — some weighing tons and seven meters high — to guard their coast.

But … no sooner were the booms in place than the Coast Guard, perhaps under pressure from the public comments of James Carville, uprooted them and moved them to guard the Louisiana coastline instead.

So Alabama decided on a backup plan. It would buy snare booms to catch the oil as it began to wash up on the beaches. But … the Fish and Wildlife Administration vetoed the plan, saying it would endanger sea turtles that nest on the beaches.

So Alabama — ever resourceful — decided to hire 400 workers to patrol the beaches in person, scooping up oil that had washed ashore. But … OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) refused to allow them to work more than 20 minutes out of every hour and required an hour-long break after 40 minutes of work, so the cleanup proceeded at a very slow pace.

This should be a wake-up call for every American who takes comfort in the “protection” of a huge federal government. The erosion of local and state rights under a massive bureaucracy paralyzes our ability to respond to such disasters.

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