Mission Accomplished?


New reports of oil floating through marshes and onto islands are making the rounds this weekend, and it’s important to see that in the context of BP and retired Adm. Thad Allen, the top government response official, giving what amounts to an “all clear” signal. Residents here know better.

BP admits to removing at least 80,000 feet of boom from Alabama’s coastline alone. It’s alarming that Allen is willing to take such a huge career-defining risk, in effect leaving the Gulf undefended as BP is allowed to race for the exits. If he’s right, and there’s no threat, then he’s done a huge money-saving favor for BP. If he’s wrong, and oil is allowed to devastate what should have been protected areas, then this response will make Katrina look like a marvel of effectiveness and efficiency…and Allen’s legacy will be an ugly one indeed.

A typical observation came from Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon, who said local leadership is not being consulted and BP is hitting the road. “I’ve been given no written plan, but they are removing boom as fast as they can,” the mayor said in an Associated Press report. “They’re getting their little red wagon packed and leaving town.”

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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