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Coast Guard defends grounding oil-sucking barges in Gulf

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Jonathan Strong
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      Jonathan Strong

      Jonathan Strong, 27, is a reporter for the Daily Caller covering Congress. Previously, he was a reporter for Inside EPA where he wrote about environmental regulation in great detail, and before that a staffer for Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA). Strong graduated from Wheaton College (IL) with a degree in political science in 2006. He is a huge fan of and season ticket holder to the Washington Capitals hockey team. Strong and his wife reside in Arlington.

Sixteen crude-sucking barges are back in the Gulf of Mexico working to clean up oil, but the Coast Guard is defending its decision to ground the vessels because it couldn’t verify whether there were fire extinguishers and life vests on board.

“The Coast Guard is not going to compromise safety … that’s our No. 1 priority,” Coast Guard spokesman Robert Brassel told The Daily Caller.

The decision to ground the ships is under intense scrutiny after Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal expressed his deep frustration with the decision Thursday.

“You got men on the barges in the oil, and they have been told by the Coast Guard, ‘Cease and desist. Stop sucking up that oil,’” Jindal said to ABC News.

Brassel said the barges are now “back in operating order.”

On Thursday night, the Incident Commander in Houma, Roger Laferriere, decided with the captain of the port in New Orleans to inspect the barges when they realized the ships did not have a certificate of inspection to demonstrate safety equipment on board. Thursday morning, the ships were inspected and grounded because they did not have the proper fire-fighting and life-saving equipment. There were also concerns about the stability of the barges. During the day Thursday, the problems were fixed, and the barges are back out on the water today.

Brassel’s defense of the decision, he said, was based on the “general Coast Guard perspective” on safety matters. Brassel repeatedly declined to say whether the Coast Guard balances safety considerations in an urgent, disaster response scenario like what is happening in the Gulf versus ordinary circumstances when time is not of the essence.

Other local authorities have also decried the Coast Guard’s actions in responding to the spill. For instance, county commissioner Wayne Harris, whose Okaloosa county has gone rogue on the oil spill, said Coast Guard ships ran over booms the county had set up to stop the invading oil.

  • brian61

    In the government, regulations are more important than common sense. Everyone should read (at least once) “The Death of Common Sense” by Philip K. Howard.

  • TruthWillPrevail

    Right. Because we always make sure we send in the OSHA inspectors to check out the fire department’s engines and other equipment in the middle of them fighting a 5-alarm blaze……

    Idiots!

  • asmartasu

    Gov. people, and CYA at it’s best.

  • Taxpayer

    My grandfather served in the Coast Guard. I’m glad he’s not around to see this. On second thought, I wish he were still around so he can SLAP SOME SENSE into those idiots!

  • mcl2177

    People have described hell as a place were there is no reason. If that is not what we already are or are well on our way to becoming then maybe I am insane.

  • Pingback: This is seriously messed up. WTF?!?!? - Page 5 - US Message Board - Political Discussion Forum

  • windrdr

    The mentality reminds me of a cartoon that used to be posted in the Stan/Eval shop (the guys who administer qualifications testing) in my Air Force unit, that captures the apparent Puddle Pirate mindset here – it depicted a legion of armored warriors on horseback, poised to rush into a pitched battle, with a caption that read “TO WAR, MEN! But first, a few written tests, and some paperwork”

    The more I read, see, and hear about this clusterfark, the more I’m convinced there needs to be a collective b*tch-slapping session for more than a few petty bureaucrats to re-align their priorities to better focus on the ultimate goal of the mission at hand. While they’re covering their asses, the marshes and beaches are being covered in oil.

    With a leadership vacuum at the top, the local petty self important muckety mucks invariably inflate themselves to fill the void.

  • emem

    Was the coast guard afraid their boats would get dirty??????
    The coast guard routinely check pleasure craft for required safety equipment so I find it utterly stupid they couldn’t send a boat to the barges to perform the supposed safety check.

  • independentvoter

    OK were their malfunctions worse than the oil spill??? The ONLY reason they are back up and operating is the NEWS and it wasn’t MSM.. I wonder if Obama stunk as bad at being a community organizer as he does at running the government and that would apply DOUBLE from his buddies in the senate and congress…

  • sandra3dee

    So instead of boarding and checking them out, you ground them all? Government efficiency at its best.

    • mcl2177

      You really have to ask yourself if this is now being done on purpose. I hate to have to say it but it’s true. People can’t be this incompitent.