Florida’s Okaloosa county goes rogue on oil spill as Jindal orders National Guard to build protections off Louisiana

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.
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Badges? They no need no stinkin’ badges!

Florida’s Okaloosa county is telling the federal government it will no longer take orders in responding to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a decision made in response to the county’s deep frustration with the Obama administration’s response to the spill.

The county appears to be the first local government to openly flaunt the official response to the spill. Others, such as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, have complained bitterly of inaction and red tape regarding their response to the spill, but have thus far refrained from taking measures not approved by the federal or state authorities. Even Jindal, though, has become more assertive in the last day, ordering the National Guard to start building barrier islands off Lousiana’s coast.

Okaloosa’s decision and Jindal’s order could mark a new break between frustrated local authorities and the coordinated spill response.

County commissioner Wayne Harris said leaders of Okaloosa County are prepared to face any consequences for their renegade response. It’s that important, he said, to protect the county’s Choctawhatchee Bay, which is “too wonderful to destroy ecologically.”

“Our frustration is we have to wait for allowance from the federal government … we decided to be our own unified command. We have to stop it before it gets here,” Harris told The Daily Caller.

The decision to revolt came in the form of a unanimous vote at an emergency session late Monday by the county commission and will allow a series of hands-on steps to protect waters from invading tar balls.

Included in the county’s plan is an underwater “air curtain” that will utilize a layer of bubbles to push oil from the murky depths towards the surface and large barges to block oil on the water’s surface.

“The air curtain will send up a huge amount of bubbles that actually form an air wall. We saw the first test yesterday … it was actually pushing [the oil] back,” Harris said.

Harris said federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have repeatedly opposed Okaloosa’s plans for responding to the spill.

“Some of the plans we put together, every time we turn around one of the other agencies says, ‘No, you can’t do that,’” Harris said.

Further, the government’s response is clumsy. “The Army Corps of Engineers, the Coast Guard, the EPA all these different agencies aren’t talking to each other,” Harris said.

At one point, the Coast Guard “ran over” booms the county had put up to stop the oncoming oil, Harris said.

And while Okaloosa’s decision is a somewhat drastic step, Harris said it’s necessary in such dire circumstances.

“Our tourism, our tax base, we’re losing our shorts down here. We’re losing our jobs down here … Our government’s not doing anything to help us.”