Jindal Called Out
Spill Report Accuses Jindal of Showboating
by JOHN COLLINS RUDOLF
Jockeying by Gulf Coast officials for limited oil spill-fighting resources and the construction of a massive chain of sand barriers to block oil offshore — a key priority of Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana — did little to protect the coastline and often hampered the more effective actions of federal responders to the 2010 oil spill, according to the final report by the presidential panel investigating the spill.
The report, released on Tuesday, also details new allegations that Mr. Jindal deliberately withheld the location of an area of oiled marsh from the Coast Guard that he used as a backdrop for television interviews.
“Coast Guard responders watched Governor Jindal — and the TV cameras following him — return to what appeared to be the same spot of oiled marsh day after day to complain about the inadequacy of the federal response, even though only a small amount of marsh was then oiled,” the report stated, citing an interview with a Coast Guard official. “When the Coast Guard sought to clean up that piece of affected marsh, Governor Jindal refused to confirm its location.”
A spokesman for Mr. Jindal forcefully denied the allegations, calling them “ridiculous.”
“We had a Coast Guard liaison traveling with us throughout the spill and we consistently reported oil sightings to him,” Kyle Plotkin, the governor’s press secretary, told Politico.
At the height of the spill, politicians from affected states focused their attention on securing large amounts of containment boom, the floating orange barriers intended to block and capture oil. But with limited amounts of boom available, these efforts often resulted in supplies’ being diverted from where they were needed most, the report found.
“Responders knew that in deploying boom they were often responding to the politics of the spill rather than the spill itself,” the report states. “Coast Guard responders distributed many miles of boom according to political, rather than operational, imperatives. They felt hamstrung by the outrage that resulted when a parish or state felt slighted by allocation decisions, so they placed boom wherever they could.”
“All of these problems distracted responders from their focus on cleaning up the spill,” it concludes.
Ultimately, the highly coveted containment boom often did little to keep oil from washing ashore, the report noted.
The commission also called out some in the news media for stoking local outrage over the federal government response to the spill.
“Local resentment became a media theme and then a self-fulfilling prophecy,” the commissioners found. “Even those who privately thought the federal government was doing the best it could under the circumstances could not say so publicly.”
In one instance, Anderson Cooper, the CNN anchor, “reportedly asked a parish president to bring an angry, unemployed offshore oil worker on his show,” the panel wrote. “When the parish president could not promise the worker would be ‘angry,’ both were disinvited.”