June 24, 2010

Sen. LeMieux: ‘Where are the Skimmers?’ (Originally Appeared at Washington Examiner)

Original Washington Examiner Opinion Zone post

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Related item, via the Associated Press: “Federal judge blocks Obama’s offshore drilling moratorium”

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George LeMieux, Florida’s junior Senator, is not pleased, nor should he be.

Late last night, Freedom’s Lighthouse (HTs to Free Republic and Doug Ross) posted a YouTube video of LeMieux’s Monday speech on the Senate floor. The related page from the Congressional Record (PDF) is here.

Here is some of what LeMieux had to say:

… We are here, 61 days later, and we still have this tremendous pouring of oil from the bottom of the sea floor into the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, the amount of oil that is coming into the gulf now equals the size of the Exxon Valdez oil spill every 2-1/2 days.

Yet while this oil continues to gush, and while we have hope that the containment dome will capture more and more of this oil as it comes from the bottom of the ocean, we are still seeing a weak, at best, response from the Federal Government in trying to keep this oil from coming ashore.

Last week–a week ago tomorrow–I met with the President of the United States and Admiral Allen in Pensacola. At the same time, I raised the issue of skimmers. Why are there so few skimmers in the Gulf of Mexico? Why were there only, at that time, 32 skimmers off the coast of Florida? The President and Admiral Allen told me they were making every effort they could to get more skimmers to the gulf and that they were welcoming skimmers from foreign countries coming to our country to aid in the effort.

the state of affairs is there are now only 20 skimmers off the coast of Florida, when there were 32 last week. There are now just 20, while there are 2,000 skimmers available in the United States alone. That number comes from Admiral Allen. I spoke to Admiral Allen last week, along with my colleague from Alabama, Senator Sessions, and we said: Where are the skimmers?

I showed him information like I have today, which is the Deepwater Horizon response report from the incident command in the State of Florida. Then it showed 20 skimmers. Today it still shows 20 skimmers.

I asked him to reconcile this for me. If we are asking for all these skimmers, if we are calling for all of them to come here, where are they? The response is anemic at best. So today I have sent a letter to Admiral Allen asking for an inventory of the 2,000 skimmers that he has said are available in the United States of America.

When I talked to the President and Admiral Allen about this last week, they said: Look, some of these skimmers are not available because we may need them for an oils pill. Well, we have an oil spill. Just because they may be required to stand on watch somewhere in case an oil spill happens someplace else, that is like saying to the people of Pensacola: Your home is on fire, but we can’t send the fire engine because there may be a fire someplace else. It does not make any sense.

Given the scope of the spill and its potential for long-term damage, the Obama/Allen argument against skimmer deployment is extraordinarily dumb, even if some other areas of the country are temporarily abandoned. But if 2,000 skimmers really are available, even before considering those based in other countries, how can it possibly be true that other areas of the country would automatically be exposed if a few hundred of them made their way to the Gulf?

Further, how can environmentalists still be giving the Obama administration a pass on all of this? Sadly, the assertion Glenn Reynolds made last week about this state of affairs rings more true with each passing day: “Environmentalists, like feminists, are just another arm of the Democratic establishment: “running dogs” to be loosed or reined in as politics require.”

Oh, and in case you’re wondering if the establishment media cares at all about what LeMieux had to say, searches on the Senator’s last name at the Associated Press’s main site, the New York Times, and the Washington Post return nothing relating to yesterday’s floor speech.

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