NOAA’s Plan: Ready! FIRE! Aim!


A series of private meetings last week between Adm. Thad Allen’s NOAA team and state-focused scientists was remarkable for many reasons, including that it continues the “Ready! FIRE! Aim!” strategy that has marked the Unified Command. Of course, it comes after that disastrous “Mission Vastly Accomplished” moment of saying the spill was 75 percent gone. Sure it is.

Here’s the official line as stated by Steve Murawski, chief science adviser for NOAA: “This is a plan to keep working until we’re satisfied we know where the oil is and, in particular, anything we can do about it.” He conceded that “conflicting” scientific reports created “confusion” about what oil and/or dispersant is in the water.

No kidding? Hey, it’s easy to applaud Adm. Allen’s sudden call to include academic and private scientific partners and state agencies in planning and executing the new oil and dispersant monitoring plan, but it comes weeks after NOAA told the world that the oil is mostly gone…and we shouldn’t worry about a thing.

Three meetings – CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC lest controversy erupts – don’t carry quite the heft of a presidential address.

This reeks of a cover-your-ass response after getting spanked by the “Mission Vastly Accomplished” moment, and an attempt to create a process that can help lessen the reaction to any “official line” (however suspect) we see later. If Adm. Allen and his NOAA colleagues actually gave a damn about what these scientists think, they’d have given them the same pre-announcement respect that BP’s hired guns apparently get. In other words, these scientists would be allowed actual input, not after-the-fact PR window dressing.

The Times-Picayune has a good report on the meetings:

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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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