Fox's attack on Obama's oil spill response rests on falsehoods

››› ››› JUSTIN BERRIER

Fox & Friends guest hosts falsely suggested that there was a "lack of cleanup going on" in the Gulf Coast oil spill and falsely suggested Louisiana's barrier plan had been ignored. In fact, cleanup of the oil spill has been ongoing for more than a month, and the Army Corps of Engineers responded to the barrier plan -- the effectiveness of which is being questioned -- and raised concerns that it would push oil into Mississippi.

Fox & Friends attacks Obama's oil spill response with falsehoods

Fox & Friends attacks Obama's response to spill by falsely suggesting there has been a "lack of cleanup." On the May 28 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, guest host Dave Briggs claimed the president "should be taking some accountability for the lack of cleanup going on." Co-guest host Clayton Morris added: "We all know that it's BP's fault. I mean, there's no discounting that. But what's at blame now is the cleanup process and the government's reaction to it."

Fox & Friends accuses Obama administration of ignoring Louisiana's request for resources by falsely suggesting it hasn't responded to the state's barrier plan. Briggs also suggested that the administration is ignoring Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's request for resources, saying, "The people in Louisiana are saying, hey, we want you to give us some resources. We've been asking for them for weeks and not getting them." Co-guest host Alisyn Camerota later added: "Thirty-eight days. I mean, had they done anything -- just try anything, even if it didn't work. We've seen other examples here on the show, even, of people with little gadgets, little ideas for sponges, for hairnets -- for anything. Bobby Jindal has been down there saying, just help me build some barrier islands -- man-made barrier islands to keep it from coming ashore. Anything that could have been done in the past 38 days."

In fact, there have been significant cleanup efforts ongoing for more than a month

Interior Department estimates 11 million gallons of oil-water mix have been recovered and has an ongoing list of its cleanup efforts. According to the Department of the Interior, as of the morning of May 28:

  • Personnel were quickly deployed and approximately 20,000 are currently responding to protect the shoreline and wildlife.
  • More than 1,300 vessels are responding on site, including skimmers, tugs, barges, and recovery vessels to assist in containment and cleanup efforts -- in addition to dozens of aircraft, remotely operated vehicles, and multiple mobile offshore drilling units.
  • More than 1.85 million feet of containment boom and 1.25 million feet of sorbent boom have been deployed to contain the spill -- and approximately 300,000 feet of containment boom and 1 million feet of sorbent boom are available.
  • Approximately 11 million gallons of an oil-water mix have been recovered.
  • Approximately 840,000 gallons of total dispersant have been deployed -- 700,000 on the surface and 140,000 subsea. More than 380,000 gallons are available.
  • 17 staging areas are in place and ready to protect sensitive shorelines, including: Dauphin Island, Ala., Orange Beach, Ala., Theodore, Ala., Panama City, Fla., Pensacola, Fla., Port St. Joe, Fla., St. Marks, Fla., Amelia, La., Cocodrie, La., Grand Isle, La., Shell Beach, La., Slidell, La., St. Mary, La.; Venice, La., Biloxi, Miss., Pascagoula, Miss., and Pass Christian, Miss.

The response and cleanup effort has been ongoing for more than a month. According to White House records of the cleanup attempt, response vessels have been engaged in cleanup activities continuously since April 23. Since that time, the following resources have been employed:

Total active response vessels: more than 1,200

Containment boom deployed: more than 1.75 million feet

Containment boom available: more than 380,000 feet

Sorbent boom deployed: more than 990,000 feet

Sorbent boom available: more than 1.07 million feet

Total boom deployed: more than 2.74 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)

Total boom available: more than 1.45 million feet (regular plus sorbent boom)

Oily water recovered: more than 10.83 million gallons

Surface dispersant used: approximately 700,000 gallons

Subsea dispersant used: approximately 115,000

Total dispersant used: approximately 815,000

Dispersant available: more than 300,000 gallons

Overall personnel responding: more than 22,000

Army Corps reportedly responded to Louisiana's barrier plan with concerns that it would drive oil into Mississippi

AP: Army Corps documents say barriers "could instead funnel oil into more unprotected areas and into neighboring Mississippi." The Associated Press reported on May 26 that the Army Corps of Engineers released documents that day that "signaled support for parts of the state plan, including berms that would be built onto existing barrier islands," but stated that parts of the plan "could inadvertently alter tides and end up driving oil east -- into Mississippi Sound, the Biloxi Marshes and Lake Borgne." From the article:

A wall of sand that Louisiana officials have requested to block the Gulf of Mexico slick could instead funnel oil into more unprotected areas and into neighboring Mississippi, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said in documents released Wednesday.

Gov. Bobby Jindal and leaders from several coastal parishes want to ring the state's southeastern coastline with a $350 million, 86-mile network of sand berms. However, the corps says the barrier could inadvertently alter tides and end up driving oil east -- into Mississippi Sound, the Biloxi Marshes and Lake Borgne.

[...]

Eager to build the berms before the damage gets worse, Louisiana officials said they were willing to delay construction on parts of the barrier to avoid swamping Mississippi with oil.

Millions of gallons are still swirling in the Gulf. Supporters of the sand berms say oil could keep hitting Louisiana's coastline for months.

In documents released Wednesday by the state, the corps signaled support for parts of the state plan, including berms that would be built onto existing barrier islands.

The agency said that if the 6-foot-high sand barriers worked, they could capture oil and allow skimmer boats to more effectively scoop floating crude.

The section highlighted as a possible hazard to Mississippi would connect from the Chandeleur Islands to the marshes in eastern Plaquemines Parish.

AP: Army Corps previously said it was "working as quickly as possible" on permit request "but still has to follow" federal law. The AP reported on May 24 that "the Corps said it is working as quickly as possible on the emergency permit request -- but still has to follow various steps required by federal law." From the article:

In a statement, the Corps said the state's application is being processed as an emergency permit. The agency said that under federal law, the Corps had to comment on the proposal, leading the state to file a revised plan on May 14. The agency said the information is now being evaluated for potential environmental impacts.

The Corps said it is working closely with the state -- and will make a decision as quickly as possible.

Experts have questioned the effectiveness and long-term impact of Jindal's barrier plan

AP: "[E]xperts and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have questioned whether the barrier system could be completed in time." The May 26 AP article also quoted Len Bahr, who "served as a coastal adviser to five Louisiana governors, including Jindal," saying, "The horses are already out of the barn. The oil is already out there." From the article:

Some independent experts and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have questioned whether the barrier system could be completed in time to keep out the oil.

"The horses are already out of the barn. The oil is already out there," said Len Bahr, who served as a coastal adviser to five Louisiana governors, including Jindal.

Adm. Allen: Building barriers of that scope "is going to take a very, very long time" and "significant amount of resources" that "might be applied elsewhere." During a May 24 press conference, Adm. Thad Allen was asked about Jindal's "frustrat[ion] that the federal government was not being responsive to the requests." Allen responded that the Corps was working on a review of "cost and the schedule, the feasibility, the engineering issues associated with" the plan and that "building a set of barrier islands and berms that large is going to take a very, very long time even by the state's own estimate -- six to nine months in some cases -- and a significant amount of resources associated with that that might be applied elsewhere."

Times-Picayune: Plan "raises considerable financial and ecological questions." The Times-Picayune reported on May 21 that "while Jindal and the state's congressional delegation have waged an us-vs.-them battle with the federal government over what they term a slow, bureaucratic response, the state's plan itself is a work in progress that raises considerable financial and ecological questions." From the article:

But while Jindal and the state's congressional delegation have waged an us-vs.-them battle with the federal government over what they term a slow, bureaucratic response, the state's plan itself is a work in progress that raises considerable financial and ecological questions.

[...]

Though less objectionable to the scientific and environmental community, the new plan would require dredges to transport sand from a borrow site to the island creation spot -- adding significant additional time and costs to the project.

[...]

While many scientists and environmental groups applaud Jindal's efforts to deal with a potentially catastrophic threat to the state's ecosystem, there are fears about using the state's precious sand resources to build berms that are destined to be fouled by oil.

Weathers: Barrier plan is "not going to get completed" in time. The Times-Picayune quoted Dallon Weathers, a geologist at the University of New Orleans, saying, "This thing is not going to get completed in a timeframe that's on the same schedule as this spill."

Lopez: "Need to make sure" barriers are "something that you're not going to regret later." The Times-Picayune quoted John Lopez, a coastal sustainability director for the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, saying, "I think you have to consider these islands as much as possible in this emergency situation, but you really need to make sure you're doing something that you're not going to regret later. ... Obviously this is an emergency situation, but quality sand for barrier islands is not an unlimited resource in Louisiana, and we would not want to see depletion of the quality of sand that could be used down the road."

Stone: "Foolish to embark on a project of this scale without establishing potential negative impacts." The Christian Science Monitor reported on May 24 that according to Gregory Stone, a professor of oceanography at Louisiana State University, "[s]tate leaders are not ... considering questions about its long-term effects on the coastal environment." Stone reportedly added: "This is a mammoth engineering project, and it can be done, but it's being done willy-nilly. It's foolish to embark on a project of this scale without establishing potential negative impacts on currents, on coastal erosion, on wildlife habitat, on whole range of environmental issues."

NY Times: Experts "concerned" that using "scarce sand" for temporary gain could compromise long-term restoration. The New York Times reported on May 21 that "many experts say it is not at all clear whether dredging companies could build up the barrier islands quickly enough to save the marshes. They are also concerned that the kind of sand berms envisioned in the plan might wash away quickly after a couple of storms, wasting scarce sand in the region." The Times reported that Stone "said that dredging and pumping large amounts of sand amid Louisiana's complex inlets and bays could harm ocean life" and that "any plan required closer study before it is put in place." It also reported:

The governor's plan would not permanently rebuild degraded coastal islands -- a delicate and complex process that has been planned for years. A temporary sand barrier could wash away in a matter of months, experts said. And the type of sand necessary for long-term coastal restoration is in short supply along Louisiana's shoreline.

"If we use the good sand that we have for this quick-and-dirty berm, and a storm comes in and spreads it around, we've lost the major sand resource that we wanted to use for barrier-island restoration," Dr. Reed said. "We could compromise the long-term restoration of the coast for a short-term gain."

Right now, the chain of barrier islands has very little protection. Asbury H. Sallenger Jr., an oceanographer with the United States Geological Survey, said the Chandeleur Islands lost the majority of their surface area during Hurricane Katrina. Even a strong wind can push a surge of water over the island, he said.

But Dr. Sallenger, like other experts, noted that the dredging project would take months to complete, and the oil is already showing up in the marshes. "My first question is whether such a thing could be done, from a scientific basis, quickly enough to be useful," he said.

Posted In
Government, The Presidency & White House
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Fox News Channel
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Alisyn Camerota, Dave Briggs, Clayton Morris
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FOX & Friends
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