Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has spent the past week and half fighting to get working barges to begin vacuuming crude oil out of his state’s oil-soaked waters. By Thursday morning, against the governor’s wishes, those barges still were sitting idle, even as more oil flowed toward the Louisiana shore.
Sixteen barges sat stationary Thursday, although they had been sucking up thousands of gallons of BP’s oil as recently as Tuesday. Workers in hazmat suits and gas masks pumped the oil out of the Louisiana waters and into steel tanks. It was a homegrown idea that seemed to be effective at collecting the thick gunk.
So why stop now?
“The Coast Guard came and shut them down,” Jindal said. “You got men on the barges in the oil, and they have been told by the Coast Guard, ‘Cease and desist. Stop sucking up that oil.'”
A Coast Guard representative said that it shares the same goal as the governor.
But the Coast Guard ordered the stoppage because of reasons that Jindal found frustrating. The Coast Guard needed to confirm that there were fire extinguishers and life vests on board, and then it had trouble contacting the people who built the barges.
The governor said he didn’t have the authority to overrule the Coast Guard’s decision, though he said he tried to reach the White House to raise his concerns.
“They promised us they were going to get it done as quickly as possible,” he said. But “every time you talk to someone different at the Coast Guard, you get a different answer.”
After Jindal strenuously made his case, the barges finally got the go-ahead Thursday to return to the Gulf and get back to work, after more than 24 hours of sitting idle.