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How Many Clean-Up Workers Could the Gulf Use? Why Aren’t We Sending Them?

Clumps of oil have begun washing up on the beaches in Pensacola, Florida. Take a look at these sickening photos. And these photos showing the effects across the Gulf.

Notice that when the Pensacola locals dug down through the sand, they discovered layers of oil that came in earlier and got covered as more sand washed in. If the oil washes in at night, it might be covered by morning, but it’s still there, doing its damage.

This could happen any/every day and any/every night for months. They could use thousands of people out there, 24/7, working to clean it up as it comes in, and even thousands might not be able to keep up.

Americans across the nation are going to be watching this on television and reading about it and talking about it for months to come. How much damage will occur in that period? What message will people draw from it? Whom will they blame? And what will they do about that?

The Gulf coast is under siege from a sickening, often lethal killing force, and it’s attacking across a thousand mile front. The Gulf Coast is under attack. So leaving the response mostly to BP, even with Coast Guard oversight, is ludicrous, and expecting the states and affected local communities to be able to handle this alone is not enough.

The Federal Government needs to treat this as the equivalent of an invasion and ralley the nation to meet it. Yet the Obama Administration seems to be missing a great opportunity for mobilizing hundreds of thousands or a million workers to do whatever they can to help contain and clean this up until it stops washing ashore and threatening the Gulf.

Thousands of Gulf residents whose jobs are being destroyed by this catastrophe have already been deployed. But that’s not enough. America has 15 million people without jobs and thousands of students without summer jobs. They want to help; they need the work; the nation needs a jobs program. Why isn’t this answer obvious to the people in the White House?

As MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has been pointing out, night after night, there are jobs that need doing, booms that aren’t being attended, beaches not sufficiently monitored, and oil being left to soak in. Meanwhile we have small politicians arguing about whether the National Guard has been deployed, when even more resources are needed.

Issue an Executive Order creating a Gulf Conservation Corp and put someone in charge in every state, on every shoreline, and use whatever emergency powers the Executive has to start mobilizing them. Then offer a bill in Congress to sanction/pay for it, with recovery from the BP escrow, and let’s see if there are any patriots. Let’s see how Americans respond to a real crisis that puts its real security at risk. I think we might be pleasantly surprised.

John Chandley


Seminal, Chris Matthews: Whom could we get to clean beaches, man oil booms this summer

McClatchy, No skimmers in sight, as oil floods into Mississippi waters

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John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley