Beach mayor: GOP ‘fool’ who denied disaster can ‘take a swim’
‘Conservative’ Alabama mayor blasts BP’s ‘ineptitude’ and ‘total malfunction’ of Coast Guard response
During the two months since BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil well blew out, a tide of oil has been advancing inexorably on the Gulf Coast, like a slow-motion tsunami.
“When we know the oil is coming at specific places on the American coast, can we stop it?” MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow wondered on Thursday. “We should be able to, but apparently we can’t. At least we can’t in Alabama, in Orange Beach, where locals have been watching the oil offshore for weeks.”
Maddow spoke with the major of Orange Beach, Tony Kennon, who noted, “I’m a conservative,” but went on to insist, “The Republican senator that said this wasn’t an environmental disaster was a complete fool. He needs to come down and take a swim off Louisiana’s coast, if it’s not a disaster.”
Kennon was referring to Alaska Representative Don Young, who argued for a continuation of offshore drilling in late May on the grounds that “this is not an environmental disaster and I will say that again and again because it is a natural phenomenon.”
On Wednesday, Associated Press reporter Rich Matthews actually did take a swim in the oil-fouled waters, reporting that “dropping beneath the surface the only thing I see is oil. To the left, right, up and down Ã¢â‚¬â€ it sits on top of the water in giant pools, and hangs suspended fifteen feet beneath the surface.”
Kennon was unsparing in his criticism of both BP and the US government. “The oil moved in Tuesday evening,” he told Maddow. “I thought we had closed the pass down — the pass is the opening between the Gulf of Mexico and our back bays. At ten o’clock that night, the Coast Guard let me know that they were not going to close down the pass. … Between that decision and the ineptitude of the response by BP’s contractor and plan, oil moved up three to four miles into our back bays.”
“But there was also a component of disorganization and total malfunction,” continued Kennon, “where they continued to open and close the gates for boats to come in and out … which allowed the oil to move out of the containment area into the back bays. Which is absolutely mind-boggling to me.”
Maddow noted that technology exists for containing the oil “but apparently we, the United States of America, do not have the will or the coordination or the manpower or the leadership to pull something like this off. … We are doing a disgracefully bad job keeping that oil offshore and getting it out of the water.”
Kennon agreed with her, emphasizing that “unfortunately, locals, we have absolutely zero control over the process and what’s going on. That is completely within BP’s purview. .. Two to three weeks ago, I began to start yelling at a fairly high volume that we didn’t have enough assets in place to do the job.”
“Booming is a very simplistic approach to blocking the oil,” the mayor explained. “And when you have a simplistic approach, you make up with overwhelming numbers of assets. But when you’ve got a simplistic approach and underwhelming numbers, that’s when you get into trouble.”
According to a local news story in the Press-Register, a BP representative assured the residents of Orange Beach this week “that a multimilion-dollar plan to keep oil out of the pass with a mechanical system is in the works, but that it may be three weeks before it’s operable.”
This video is from MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast June 10, 2010.