I feel a bit foolish about it now, but I'm one of the people who voted for you and believed you when you said you were going to go about things differently if you were elected. That you were going to try to fundamentally change the way business is done in Washington. I knew it would be difficult--hell, I knew it would be virtually impossible. But I thought you were going to try.
But here we are, on Day 36 of the BP oil spill (although why we keep calling a hole in the ground that has continuously spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf thus far a "spill" is beyond me). Day 36, and BP is still in charge. Day 36, and BP still gets to call the shots on which dispersant is used, regardless of whether it's found to be toxic, regardless of whether its use has been banned in the UK, regardless of whether or not we, the residents of the Gulf Coast, want our waters turned into a science experiment.
Here we are, on Day 36, while BP and the Coast Guard are allowed to threaten reporters with arrest for trying to cover the story. Day 36, and BP boats have been allowed to sit by idly, despite repeated requests for help from local officials, while oil flows into Barataria Bay.
Here we are on Day 36, and BP is just now getting around to trying the "top kill" method to shut down the well. People down here would really like to know why it took 36 days to get to this point.
Here we are on Day 36, with no viable options to save the Louisiana coast put forth by the federal government or BP. Here we are on Day 36, with no reponse to repeated requests from our state and local officials that we be allowed to help ourselves by dredging and building temporary barrier islands. The Coast Guard and the Corps continue to insist that they need more time to evaluate the environmental impact of this plan, while oil continues to seep into the wetlands, destroying everything they touch.
Here we are on Day 36, when on Day 20, former oil industry executives and engineers contacted BP and the Coast Guard and provided them a viable option to at least clean up the oil that has been released thus far by siphoning the oil into supertankers, a plan that worked in the Arabian Gulf--a plan that resulted in the recovery of 85% of the 700 millions gallons of oil spilled. But still we wait, 16 days later, for someone--anyone--to force BP to do the right thing. To force them to clean up their mess.
Here we are on Day 36, and the residents of Louisiana are frustrated, angry, and tired beyond belief. We watched as the nation turned its back on this region five years ago. We were told, at the time, that part of the reason that help didn't arrive more quickly was because of politics--because we had a Democratic governor and a Republican president. And now, the tables are turned and here we are again, with a Republican governor, a Democratic president, and still no hope in sight.
Here we are on Day 36, as BP spouts platitudes and callous remarks at those who have made their living on the waters of the Gulf for generations but can no longer. There are concerns now of suicide among Vietnamese fishermen who are at their breaking points. Coastal restaurateurs have expressed their fears that the oil spill will result in a shortage of seafood and resultant price increases. A BP spokesperson addressed these fears at a town hall meeting by telling them that "Louisiana isn’t the only place that has shrimp." That may be true, but I guess that means I have to point out that Louisiana produces 20% to 25% of the total domestic seafood in the lower 48 states and 75% of all seafood harvested in the northern Gulf of Mexico. If BP representatives don't think seafood prices throughout the country are going to go up as result of this disaster, they're even more clueless than I thought.
Speaking of the word "country," Mr. President, we're once again beginning to feel as though we're not really a part of this one. People here are beginning to believe that once again, we're being left to fend for ourselves because it's not financially or politically expedient for the rest of the nation to help us.
Here we are on Day 36, and people in this area are beginning to think that BP doesn't really want to cap that well.
Here we are on Day 36, and people in this area are wondering why no serious sanctions have been brought forth against BP. Why the EPA has "temporarily suspended" taking any action regarding BP's faulty safety record, which has resulted in 26 deaths over the past 10 years and environmental disasters within our country over, and over, and over again.
Here we are on Day 36, and people in this area are wondering why in the world you think it would make us feel better for you to tell us, almost word for word, what your predecessor told us in that infamous speech in Jackson Square in September of 2005. I hate to tell you this, Mr. President, but we are not comforted by knowing that yet another president has told us that he will do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to make our area whole again. Especially when we're still waiting for the federal government to deliver on the promises that were made but not kept five years ago.
Here we are on Day 36, and we are filled with despair. Make it right, Mr. President. Stop letting BP run the show. Stop letting the Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers stand by while more and more coastline is destroyed. Plug the damn hole, Mr. President. Plug the damn hole.
I'd like to leave you with a quote that may look familiar to you: "If the people cannot trust their government to do the job for which it exists - to protect them and to promote their common welfare - all else is lost." Those were wise words, Mr. President. Perhaps you should take them to heart.