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Transparency: Report Reveals Gulf Cleanup Deception and Incompetence, Not Necessarily in That Order

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By Doug Powers  •  July 2, 2010 12:15 PM

**Written by guest-blogger Doug Powers

No wonder the Democrat congressional leadership won’t let some Republicans tap their member accounts to take trips to the Gulf region to observe the cleanup effort:

(CNSNews.com) – Billy Nungesser, president of New Orleans’ Plaquemines Parish, sensed that a chart showing 140 oil skimmers at work — a chart given to him by BP and the Coast Guard — was “somewhat inaccurate.” So, Nungesser asked to fly over the spill to verify the number.

The flyover was cancelled three times before those officials admitted that just 31 of the 140 skimmers were actually deployed.

The incident is detailed in a report released Thursday by Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Republicans say the report provides evidence that the Obama administration misrepresented the assets devoted to the cleanup, misrepresented the timing of when government officials knew there was an oil spill and misrepresented the level of control the government had over the matter. It also claims the Obama administration seemed more interested in public relations than cleaning the mess and plugging the hole.

If the Obama administration is only interested in “public relations,” they have a strange way of showing it: Vacations, golf, more golf, super soaker fights, more golf, beer pong, a McCartney concert (I was certain singing Hey Jude would plug the hole), etc. Sure, there was that brief alleged search for an “ass to kick,” but that went away as fast as Hillary’s southern accent when she’s flying northbound across the Mason-Dixon line.

Nungesser, you may recall, was one of the parish presidents who waited three hours to meet with Joe Biden and ended up seeing him for 30 seconds. Prior to that, Nungesser said that President Obama “chewed him out” during one visit to the Gulf.

Findings from the report:

Committee staff has discovered the following based upon witness interviews and documents provided by federal and state entities:

• Officials on the ground dispute key White House assertions about the number and timeliness of assets deployed in the Gulf. Local officials describe White House outreach efforts as more focused on stopping bad press than on addressing the disaster at hand;
• The White House’s assurances that there are adequate resources are at odds with the reality on the ground, where those on the frontline of the spill express significant frustration over the lack of assets. Local complaints are supported by the fact that the White House waited until Day 70 of the oil spill to accept critical offers of
international assistance. Local workers and boats could have been assisting more with the clean-up if the Federal government had provided them with needed supplies and equipment;
• While the White House has tried to use the delay in finding a visible leak to explain its early silence on the oil spill, Transocean officials and Coast Guard documents from the scene of the oil spill reveal clear and early indications of a substantial oil leak days earlier than White House accounts;
• The failure of Administration officials to quickly waive laws preventing necessary foreign assets from reaching the Gulf and other regulations are hampering efforts to clean-up and limit damage from the oil spill. Local officials feel the federal government is making the perfect the enemy of the good in cleanup efforts;
• Local officials strongly dispute President Obama’s insistence that the federal government – and not BP – has been in control since day one. One Coast Guard Admiral told congressional investigators that decisions on the ground are made through a “consensus-based” process with BP. In practice, the Federal Government is not in charge of oil spill response efforts through a command-and-control approach;
• Local officials strongly believe the President’s call for a drilling moratorium will significantly compound the economic damage caused by the oil spill and will actually increase risk associated with future offshore drilling projects.
[...]
The White House blog details a number of assets deployed in the region to combat the spill. This includes vessels, boom, and dispersant. The number of assets claimed, however, does not appear to match what is actually in the field. Parish officials maintain that the thousands of vessels cited in the blog are non-existent. One senior official refers to them as “phantom assets.” When asked to elaborate, he explained that when he asks the federal government to provide the location of its assets, it either refuses or cannot do so. Daily helicopter search grids performed by the Parish sheriff’s department confirm to him that very few of the assets claimed are deployed.

Viva la transparency!

Some theorize that the Obama administration is hoarding the containment boom so they can put it around Joe Biden, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi’s mouths to avert a looming disaster, but it’s far too late.

(h/t Weasel Zippers)

**Written by guest-blogger Doug Powers

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