It was just five years ago that Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, particularly the city of New Orleans. As the rest of the country watched with sadness and frustration, the federal government stumbled in a timely response to the crisis, allowing the disaster’s impact to grow out of control.
The response from average Americans was an overwhelming display of generosity—and not just financial. Many citizens opened up their homes to displaced refugees. It was yet another example of how, in the darkest hours of need, average Americans are among the most generous and selfless people in the world.
Americans resolved that never again would we allow our fellow citizens to suffer because of a lack of resources, or a delayed response due to poor planning. Unfortunately, just five years later, we’re watching history repeat itself. The response from the federal government to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has revealed an alarming lack of leadership and a surfeit of blame shifting.
Now, shocking reports have emerged that a disaster response plan was instituted in 1994, but, again, the government didn’t follow it. Had leaders followed the “In-Situ Burn” plan, fire booms would have been used to limit the spread of the oil and then burn it before it reached shore.
Astonishingly, the federal government had to purchase one fire boom from a company in Illinois—eight days after the well began leaking oil. Then the government began begging other countries for the fire booms—which, if used when the accident first occurred, could have burned 1,800 barrels of oil per hour, stopping the spread 100 miles from shore.
Yet again, the federal government has let down Gulf Coast residents. Despite rhetorical claims of taking action from “day one,” the administration failed to spring into action when the Deepwater Horizon well exploded.
The Obama administration was quick to begin diverting attention from their embarrassing lack of leadership by pronouncing loudly that BP would be liable for every bit of clean up costs. The disaster is still unfolding and already the blame game is in full swing.
Congress joined the political hysteria when Democrat senators immediately introduced legislation raising the liability cap on oil companies for economic losses related to spills from $75 million to a staggering $10 billion. This is what passes for leadership nowadays?