If British Petroleum were an enemy on a mission to despoil
our coastal waters, they are executing a perfect war plan.

BP has dodged regulations which could have prevented this crisis, yet ironically
has imposed its own regulations that hobble relief efforts at every level. BP is clearly
calling the shots, as the Coast Guard defers to their lead and the federal government
struggles to establish any effective command and control.

These are the experiences and reflections of one person who came to help this embattled area and was turned away...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New Developments Hold Promise...

Several new developments have things in volley for me.  Every time I think it is time to leave, there appear a glimmer of hope that I might have an opportunity to bring my efforts to bear.  Today was the perfect example. Following my last conversation on the phone with Billy Nungesser, I have been in touch with various officials from different levels of local government.  In one particularly enlightening conversation, a staff member told me that BP had contracted with "an outside firm" which was instructed to be "very particular" about who was employed (voluntary or otherwise) in the recovery and rehabilitation efforts.  He mentioned that "very particular" was putting it quite nicely.  He went on to mention that he personally knew a fisherman who went out on his boat and saw a couple of birds in distress in the oil.  His friend stopped to rescued them, then took them to the bird rehabilitation center.  Almost incredulously, he was challenged by the rehabilitation staff about this.  They informed him that since these birds were not brought in through accepted channels, they could not accept them for rescue and rehabilitation (as it was described to me, they asserted that they "did not know where these birds came from").  The man fortunately was effectively persistent, and the birds were begrudgingly taken in.  This staffer reiterated what the Billy told me on the set of Anderson Cooper - that BP was fully in charge of the recovery operations, and their standards were quite stringent.  Unfortunately, it appears that their standards are designed more for PR and spin control than actual remediation.

My trail of contacts has now ended in the voicemail box of Raymond Ferrer, the Plaquemines Parish Health Department Superintendent (under whose auspices is Animal Control).  I left a message with him yesterday and am awaiting a return call.

I received a call back from Marci Lockwood at the Bird Migratory Permit office of the Fish and Wildlife Service yesterday.  We have been in constant back-and-forth contact, and she directed me to take the BP online certification course.  The next step is to get in touch with Resee Collins, FWS Paraprofessional Coordinator (those channels are currently being opened).

So once again I await the promise of a breakthrough as I swim a morass of red tape that by all indications has been set up by BP.  My focus is on bringing my own set of skills into the efforts down here.  After over a week of on-scene effort, I never would have guessed it would be so difficult.