Federal Gov’t Halts Sand Berm Dredging

Federal Gov’t Halts Sand Berm Dredging

Nungesser Pleads With President To Allow Work To Continue

 

POSTED: 5:37 pm CDT June 22, 2010
UPDATED: 9:21 am CDT June 23, 2010

 

NEW ORLEANS — The federal government is shutting down the dredging that was being done to create protective sand berms in the Gulf of Mexico. 

The berms are meant to protect the Louisiana coastline from oil. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department has concerns about where the dredging is being done. 

Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, who was one of the most vocal advocates of the dredging plan, has sent a letter to President Barack Obama, pleading for the work to continue. 

Nungesser said the government has asked crews to move the dredging site two more miles farther off the coastline. 

“Once again, our government resource agencies, which are intended to protect us, are now leaving us vulnerable to the destruction of our coastline and marshes by the impending oil,” Nungesser wrote to Obama. “Furthermore, with the threat of hurricanes or tropical storms, we are being put at an increased risk for devastation to our area from the intrusion of oil. 

Nungesser has asked for the dredging to continue for the next seven days, the amount of time it would take to move the dredging operations two miles and out resume work. 

Work is scheduled to halt at midnight Wednesday. 

The California dredge located off the Chandelier Islands has pumped more than 50,000 cubic yards of material daily to create a sand berm, according to Plaquemines Parish officials. 

Nungesser’s letter includes an emotional plea to the president. 

“Please don’t let them shut this dredge down,” he wrote. “This requires your immediate attention!” 

 

Judge halts Obama’s oil-drilling ban

Judge halts Obama’s oil-drilling ban

** FILE ** Vessels operate near the Q4000 drilling rig at the site of the Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, June 13, 2010. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

By Stephen Dinan

Bottom of Form

A federal judge in New Orleans halted President Obama’s deepwater drilling moratorium on Tuesday, saying the government never justified the ban and appeared to mislead the public in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Judge Martin L.C. Feldman issued an injunction, saying that the moratorium will hurt drilling-rig operators and suppliers and that the government has not proved an outright ban is needed, rather than a more limited moratorium.

He also said the Interior Department also misstated the opinion of the experts it consulted. Those experts from the National Academy of Engineering have said they don’t support the blanket ban.

“Much to the government’s discomfort and this Court’s uneasiness, the summary also states that ‘the recommendations contained in this report have been peer-reviewed by seven experts identified by the National Academy of Engineering.’ As the plaintiffs, and the experts themselves, pointedly observe, this statement was misleading,” Judge Feldman said in his 22-page ruling.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the administration will appeal the decision, and said Mr. Obama believes the government must figure out what went wrong with the Deepwater Horizon rig before deepwater drilling goes forward. Still, the ruling is another setback as Mr. Obama seeks to show he’s in control of the 2-month-old spill.

Democrats and Republicans from the Gulf states have called on the president to end the blanket moratorium, saying it is hurting the region.

Oil company executives told Congress last week they would have to move their rigs to other countries because they lose up to $1 million a day per idle rig, and said there are opportunities elsewhere.

© Copyright 2010 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Obama’s Broken Inauguration Day Promise to Gulf Coast: ‘Never Again Such Failures’

Obama’s Broken Inauguration Day Promise to Gulf Coast: ‘Never Again Such Failures’

by Kristinn Taylor

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On his first day in office, January 20, 2009, President Barack Obama issued a statement on the White House Web site promising Gulf Coast residents that his administration would not fail them like he accused his predecessor President George W. Bush.

Eighteen months later, those arrogant words are coming back to haunt Obama as the Gulf Coast is facing the third month of failure by Obama to marshall sufficient resources to protect the region from the massive BP oil spill.

“President Obama will keep the broken promises made by President Bush to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. He and Vice President Biden will take steps to ensure that the federal government will never again allow such catastrophic failures in emergency planning and response to occur.”

Politico reported the statement the day it was posted to a White House page titled “Additional Issues.”

Since then, the White House has edited the comment to remove the personal insult to President Bush so that it now reads:

“President Obama will keep the broken promises to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. He and Vice President Biden will take steps to ensure that the federal government will never again allow such catastrophic failures in emergency planning and response to occur. Within weeks of his inauguration, he made a renewed commitment to partner with the people of the Gulf Coast to rebuild now, stronger than ever.”

Based on the Politico report, the White House also edited out verbiage bragging about Obama’s post-Katrina trips to the region:

The site also points out that Obama “visited thousands of Hurricane survivors in the Houston Convention Center and later took three more trips to the region” and worked with the Congressional Black Caucus to help rebuild in the aftermath of Katrina.

The Obama administration has left a destructive trail of catastrophic failures in its wake over the BP oil spill, beginning with its failure to ensure that an adequate disaster plan was in place for BP’s Deepwater Horizon well to its failure to secure enough skimmers and booms to prevent the spill from reaching the shores of the Gulf states.

Obama had to be shamed into making his first overnight trip to the Gulf states last week. It took nearly two months for him to speak directly with BP executives. It wasn’t until last week that he acted like he was engaged, but even then he only spent half the week on the spill. The other half he spent on the golf course and at a ball game.

Obama’s response has been called “lackadaisical” by RNC Chairman Michael Steele who called on Obama to rein in his leisurely lifestyle until the leaking oil well is plugged.

Since the oil well blew on April 28, Obama has taken two vacations, played seven rounds of golf, entertained the pop star Bono and been entertained by Paul McCartney. He has also attended the theater several times, a Major League basball game, political fundraisers and has hosted several White House parties and barbeques.

Yet Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel ripped BP CEO Tony Hayward this weekend for taking one day off for a yacht race in Britain.

Team Obama is putting the word out to the media they think they’ve done enough on the oil spill with last week’s half-week effort and the resulting $20 billion shakedown of BP and are ready to move on. The Atlantic’s White House stenographer Marc Ambinder previewed the Obama administration’s attitude last night:

Is Obama’s BP Shakedown an Impeachable Offense?

Is Obama’s BP Shakedown an Impeachable Offense?

By Raymond Richman

As former counsel and trainer in political tactics for ACORN, President Obama used a well-known ACORN tactic, the shakedown, in getting BP to create the $20-billion escrow (slush!) fund without any law, legal controls, or binding rules to guide it on how and how much those injured materially by the oil spill (and whom among them) will be paid. Attorney Kenneth Feinberg, well-respected and well-known for heading the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, was appointed by the president to administer the escrow fund. BP will pay $5 billion into the fund for four years, starting in 2010.
BP announced early after the spill that it would pay all justifiable claims resulting from the disastrous oil spill. It opened 25 claims offices. As of June 15, BP approved initial payments that amounted to $63 million, expected to rise to $85 million by the end of the week, to businesses claiming $5,000 or more in damages. Why did the president insist that his own personal organization take over the job of paying claims? After all, supervising reparations is a judicial function, not an executive function. BP created its own fund, appointed its administrator, and determined how it will be staffed with a view to ensuring only qualified persons, businesses, and governments would be reimbursed for its losses. Now those decisions will be made politically.  

It is obvious that BP’s CEO agreed to create this fund and allow the president to administer it to prevent President Obama from bankrupting their company. After all, the president was on record saying that he would “kick BP’s ass,” and a cabinet members declared he would “put his boot on BP’s neck.” The president, when announcing the creation of the fund, stated that the terms of the fund would keep BP viable. He cannot know this. BP’s liability is not affected by the fund except to the extent claims are voluntarily settled. Those refusing to settle and their lawyers are not bound by it, nor are juries that will hear their lawsuits.

The president has no legal authority to create the escrow fund and no authority to compel BP to contribute to the fund. Forcing BP to agree to the terms of the escrow is ultra vires (i.e., illegal), beyond the powers of his office. Rep. Barton (R-TX) accurately described the slush fund as a “shakedown” (i.e., blackmail), a felony. If so, Pres. Obama has committed an impeachable offense. Congress itself does not have the authority to create the escrow fund retroactively. Congress will have no voice at all except to vilify any Republican who raises questions about it. All the ACORN employees who lost their jobs when the banks stopped paying “blackmail” to ACORN may be getting better-paying new jobs processing claims.
No doubt the media, which show pictures of the spill and pelicans covered with oil 24 hours a day, seven days a week, will hail the president’s tough dealing with BP. But BP’s oil spill deserves the strongest action under the law, not above the law. A few miles away, there are pelicans flying “free as a bird” with no oil on them. Not a single photo of them. And more than 10,000 barrels of the spilled oil are being recovered by BP daily with no photos at all; vessels are skimming oil near the spill, and no photos. And the federal government has yet to grant exception to the Jones Act that is preventing foreign vessels ready to skim oil from getting closer to shore to prevent more serious damage which would, incidentally, help save a lot of pelicans. No wonder BP believed it had to surrender to the president.
You don’t have to be paranoid to suspect the president (and many in the media) of ulterior motives, a hidden agenda. If you can get enough people to hate the oil companies, you might get the cap-and-trade bill passed. By the time they regret such hasty action, it will be too late to undo the damage. Cap-and-trade was given no chance for passage before the spill. The president pacified the environmental extremists by banning drilling in the Gulf for six months, adding to the rolls of the unemployed and increasing our dependence on foreign oil. To make the hidden agenda more believable, the president overreached by getting BP to agree to pay the lost wages incurred by workers who lost their jobs as the result of the president’s six-month moratorium on drilling in the Gulf. The hidden agenda obviously includes getting cap-and-trade passed. It looks like “cap-and-trade, cap-and-trade, cap-and-trade” has displaced “jobs, jobs, jobs.”
The president employed a similar tactic when he nationalized GM, violating the bankruptcy laws by denying bondholders their rightful control of the future of those enterprises, and he gave the bondholders’ interest in GM to the unions instead, literally. He gave Chrysler to Fiat. The bondholders of both gave their consent, being afraid of having their asses kicked or having a boot on their necks.  
When an executive uses threats to secure the “cooperation” of private businesses, we have a name for it: fascism. It is the kind of act we expect from Venezuela’s Chávez, not from a president who swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution and its separation of powers. I believe the President’s behavior is ultra vires and that he has committed an impeachable offense.
Raymond L. Richman, J.D., Ph.D., is a member of the Illinois Bar and has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago. He and his son and grandson maintain a blog at www.idealtaxes.com and co-authored the 2008 book Trading Away Our Future: How to Fix Our Government-Driven Trade Deficits and Faulty Tax System Before it’s Too Late, published by Ideal Taxes Association.

Obama’s thuggery is useless in fighting spill

Obama’s thuggery is useless in fighting spill

By: Michael Barone
Senior Political Analyst
June 20, 2010

President Barack Obama waves as he exits Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., on Friday. (Cliff Owen/AP)

Thuggery is unattractive. Ineffective thuggery even more so. Which may be one reason so many Americans have been reacting negatively to the response of Barack Obama and his administration to BP’s Gulf oil spill.

Take Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s remark that he would keep his “boot on the neck” of BP, which brings to mind George Orwell’s definition of totalitarianism as “a boot stamping on a human face — forever.” Except that Salazar’s boot hasn’t gotten much in the way of results yet.

Or consider Obama’s undoubtedly carefully considered statement to Matt Lauer that he was consulting with experts “so I know whose ass to kick.” Attacking others is a standard campaign tactic when you’re in political trouble, and certainly BP, which appears to have taken unwise shortcuts in the Gulf, is an attractive target.

But you don’t always win arguments that way. The Obama White House gleefully took on Dick Cheney on the issue of terrorist interrogations. It turned out that more Americans agreed with Cheney’s stand, despite his low poll numbers, than Obama’s.

Then there is Obama’s decision to impose a six-month moratorium on deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf. This penalizes companies with better safety records than BP’s and will result in many advanced drilling rigs being sent to offshore oil fields abroad.

The justification offered was an Interior Department report supposedly “peer reviewed” by “experts identified by the National Academy of Engineering.” But it turned out the drafts the experts saw didn’t include any recommendation for a moratorium. Eight of the cited experts have said they oppose the moratorium as more economically devastating than the oil spill and “counterproductive” to safety.

This was blatant dishonesty by the administration, on an Orwellian scale. In defense of a policy that has all the earmarks of mindless panic, that penalizes firms and individuals guilty of no wrongdoing and that will worsen rather than improve our energy situation. Ineffective thuggery.

And what about the decision not to waive the Jones Act, which bars foreign-flag vessels from coming to the aid of the Gulf cleanup? The Bush administration promptly waived it after Katrina in 2005. The Obama administration hasn’t and claims unconvincingly that, gee, there aren’t really any foreign vessels that could help.

The more plausible explanation is that this is a sop to the maritime unions, part of the union movement that gave Obama and other Democrats $400 million in the 2008 campaign cycle. It’s the Chicago way: Dance with the girl that brung ya.

Or the decision to deny Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposal to deploy barges to skim oil from the Gulf’s surface. Can’t do that until we see if they’ve got enough life preservers and fire equipment. That inspired blogger Rand Simberg to write a blog post he dated June 1, 1940: “The evacuation of British and French troops from the besieged French city of Dunkirk was halted today, over concerns that many of the private vessels that had been deployed for the task were unsafe for troop transport.”

Finally, the $20 billion escrow fund that Obama pried out of the BP treasury at the White House when he talked for the first time, 57 days after the rig exploded, with BP Chairman Tony Hayward. It’s pleasing to think that those injured by BP will be paid off speedily, but House Republican Joe Barton had a point, though an impolitic one, when he called this a “shakedown.”

For there already are laws in place that insure that BP will be held responsible for damages and the company has said it will comply. So what we have is government transferring property from one party, an admittedly unattractive one, to others, not based on pre-existing laws but on decisions by one man, pay czar Kenneth Feinberg.

Feinberg gets good reviews from everyone. But the Constitution does not command “no person . . . shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law except by the decision of a person as wise and capable as Kenneth Feinberg.” The Framers stopped at “due process of law.”

Obama doesn’t. “If he sees any impropriety in politicians ordering executives about, upstaging the courts and threatening confiscation, he has not said so,” write the editors of the Economist, who then suggest that markets see Obama as “an American version of Vladimir Putin.” Except that Putin is an effective thug.

 

Michael Barone, The Examiner’s senior political analyst, can be contacted at mbarone@washingtonexaminer.com. His columns appear Wednesday and Sunday, and his stories and blog posts appear on ExaminerPolitics.com.

Conservatives defend Rep. Barton’s suggestion that Obama administration shook down BP

Conservatives defend Rep. Barton’s suggestion that Obama administration shook down BP

By Chris Moody – The Daily Caller   06/19/10 at 12:45 AM

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Texas Republican Rep. Joe Barton may have prefaced his apology to BP CEO Tony Hayward by saying he was only speaking for himself, but it has become increasingly clear that other prominent conservatives at least partially agree with his statements.

Despite efforts by House Republican leaders to distance themselves from Barton, a number of conservative pundits, bloggers, and even members of Congress have defended his accusation that the White House is guilty of a $20 billion “shakedown” of the oil company.

“Barton should have been apologizing to the American people, not BP, but other than that, he is 100% correct,” wrote blogger Conn Carroll of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. In a post titled “Joe Barton Was Right: There Was a $20 Billion Shakedown in the White House,” Carroll called BP’s decision to establish a $20 billion fund to aid victims of the spill a “shakedown of Godfather-like proportions.”

Erick Erickson, editor of the conservative community blog RedState.com, wrote, “Let’s be honest. The White House meeting with British Petroleum was a shakedown.” Erickson added, however, that the United States does not owe BP an apology.

A number of other influential conservative bloggers posted their own defense of Barton’s Wednesday remarks, including Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit: “Of course it was a shakedown,” he wrote Thursday. “It’s the Chicago way.”

Hoft embedded the video of Barton apologizing to the BP executives that included the caption,Well said, Congressman.”

Defenders of Barton’s comments did not remain exclusively within the conservative blogosphere. While the Republican House leadership wrote press releases Thursday condemning Barton’s remarks, influential conservative pundits took to the airwaves to defend and extend the “shakedown” meme.

Talk radio host Rush Limbaugh called the situation “outrageous” and “unconstitutional”; Fox News contributor Stuart Varney described the arrangement as “Hugo Chavez-like”; and Newt Gingrich accused the White House of “extorting money from a company.” Meanwhile, MSNBC contributor Pat Buchanan praised Barton’s statement as “courageous,” and conservative radio host Laura Ingraham agreed that Barton “had a legitimate point.”

On his show this week, radio host Mark Levin called Republicans “cowards” for threatening to remove Barton from his seat on the committee and said President Obama was acting “like a dictator.”

Even Republican members of Congress voiced agreement with Barton’s statement. Despite the reports that members of the House Republican leadership had coerced Barton to apologize publicly for his remarks to the BP executives, some Republicans on Capitol Hill agreed that Barton was not wrong to call what occurred between the White House and the oil company a “shakedown.”

“BP’s reported willingness to go along with the White House’s new fund suggests that the Obama administration is hard at work exerting its brand of Chicago-style shakedown politics,” said Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Price in a statement.

Texas Republican Rep. Michael Burgess told CNN that he found the entire arrangement concerning.

“I don’t know if I would be quite as strong as Mr. Barton,” he said. “But I agree with him that it was unseemly to have the attorney general, perhaps holding criminal papers in his hand, asking them to sign on the line.”

As The Daily Caller reported, Texas Republican Senator and Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee John Cornyn also showed sympathy to Barton’s view.

“I think it’s good that there’s going to be some money there,” Cornyn said. “But I think the part that Representative Barton is expressing some concern about, that I share the concern, is that this has become a political issue for the president and he’s trying to deal with it by showing how tough he’s being against BP.”

Bending to pressure from the public and House leadership, Barton announced that he was sorry if his comments were misunderstood. A spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner declined to comment when asked about bloggers, pundits and members of Congress who have defended Barton’s comments

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2010/06/19/conservatives-defend-rep-bartons-suggestion-that-obama-administration-shook-down-bp/print/#ixzz0rJpsGluR