The Government Oil Spill: Coast Guard Liable for Sinking of Deepwater Horizon Rig, Ensuing Chaos

Hot Air has the story on the latest wrinkle in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. It seems that the Coast Guard's botched response to the initial fire contributed, at least in part, to the sinking of the rig which made a bad situation into (switching to ominous voice) The Worst Oil Spill in American History: Did The Government Cause the Oil Spill

The generally accepted view of the Deepwater Horizon disaster has focused on the blowout preventer and the non-standard procedures BP conducted just before the explosion and fire. However, most of the damage and the main source of the spill came from the collapse and sinking of the DH platform rather than the initial explosion. A new report by the Center for Public Integrity, based on testimony from people on scene and Coast Guard logs, contains evidence that the platform sunk because of a botched response from the Coast Guard, which failed to coordinate firefighting efforts and to have the proper resources to fight the fire:

The Coast Guard is not supposed to participate in firefighting, but instead assign an expert to coordinate the private firefighting efforts of the rig operator and its contractors. The Coast Guard failed to do so, and the result was an uncoordinated, “general response” effort that mainly relied on salt water to extinguish the fires. That is not the most effective way to fight rig fires; the best way is to use foam, which apparently wasn’t on hand. An expert would have known this, but as CPI’s report of the testimony shows, none was assigned:

What can say about this except:

The Coast Guard has apparently been struggling in the face of budget cuts at the hands of the Obama Administration. Has this ever been in the news before? Does anyone remember any public debate about the Coast Guard budget?

The crippling budget cuts President Obama proposed for the Coast Guard also deserve a closer examination. Obama's spending plan reduced the blue water fleet by a full one-third, slashed 1,000 personnel, five cutters, and several aircraft, including helicopters. According to the Center for Public Integrity, the Coast Guard updated its official maritime rescue manual -- advising against firefighting aboard a rig -- just seven months before the Deepwater Horizon explosion. That change in policy came at a time when Adm. Thad Allen warned the budget cuts threatened to turn the Coast Guard into a "hollow force."

At this point, you just have to laugh to keep from crying. Can you imagine anyone running for office on a platform of slashing the Coast Guard's budget? We might be passing massive health care "reform" bills of questionable utility and of even more questionable constitutionality; but when faced with budgeting for federal responsibilities that are actually in the Constitution, the sophisticated Left puts on their green eye shades and play "fiscal hawk" for 5 minutes. This is why Big Government is self-defeating. Taxes and Spending spiral ever upwards, yet the government can't seem to get anything done right.


Cold comfort: we've been through this sort of misprioritization before. The post-Viet Nam Left took power and slashed defense spending; leading to the sort of weakening of America's position in the world, demoralization of the armed forces, and equipment failures resulting in military fiascoes that you would expect. But, President Reagan turned that around - in the face of "what if the Pentagon had to hold a bake sale" style protests, of course - quickly and forcefully. We can turn this around too.

In the mean time, we will have to watch the spectacle of a trillion dollar federal government that struggles to perform its most basic functions.

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