The Corner

‘A Complete Failure’

Just got off the phone with Sen. Vitter, who calls the effort to protect Louisiana’s coast and marshes “a complete failure.” He says the feds are poorly organized and BP has “no sense of urgency.” He says it’s not organized “like a flood fight or military battle,” but like “a hodgepodge or seminar.”

He continues, “The president and Admiral Allen need to set up a clear line of command with a commander in each parish waging this battle when incoming oil is identified.” Instead, according to Vitter, it takes “three sign-offs” and other bureaucratic rigmarole before anything happens. Emblematic of the confusion is the plan to build barrier berms: “After weeks of foot dragging, they approved 2 percent of the plan.” He says some of these barriers can be built quickly, because they are expanding on already existing barrier islands. He notes that the Corps has issued permits for 45 percent of the plan, which makes it inexplicable that only 2 percent has been formally approved.

There’s also a problem with availability of boom and other supplies and “getting it to where it needs to go and quickly deployed.” Again, he says, “we need a significant Coast Guard commander joined at the hip with the parish president” in every parish threatened by oil. Asked if he still has confidence in Admiral Allen, he says he gave him high marks in the aftermath of Katrina and also does in this crisis, but “he has a lot of work still to do to organize this response.”

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