Grand Isle, Louisiana – Sitting on the Gulf of Mexico looking out into a vast coastline of small islands and thousands of acres of marshland gives you a great perspective as to just how difficult it will be to clean the incoming oil from plants, sand and animals of all types. The thick oil kills most everything it touches.
In fact, we were instructed by Buggy Vegas’ employees at Bridge Side Marina to buy Dawn dish soap before leaving in our boat to tour the oil spill in case we touched the oil. “You have to get it off your skin immediately. It kills animals so just think what it will do to your skin,” one young captain told us.
It’s clear that the marshes and fragile ecosystems are going to be destroyed when the oil hits them.
But talking with local captains and fishing experts you begin to realize that the plants are not gone yet and we should be fighting to keep the oil from getting to shore.
While there are plenty of new ideas, cutting-edge technology and thousands of interested volunteers, there is little access to the oil that is about to kill most everything in its path. While BP is responsible for the spill, the Obama dministration is responsible for denying access to those that want to help clean it up.
Many American entrepreneurs and Midwest inventors are begging the Obama administration to allow them to get in the water and try out their ideas on how best to pick up crude oil from the salty ocean in and around Grand Isle, La.
But the president and his administration says the oil spill is off limits to inventors and even the volunteers that want to help. And that means that some of the best ideas to pick up the oil, stop the oil or clean it up are not being used.
The bureaucracy that has been created by BP and the federal government to hear ideas and inventions is like a reality show – with multiple rounds of tryouts and cuts and endless voting from secret judges. Most ideas are being tested in secret and under alternative conditions by the inventors themselves because access to the real oil spill is being denied.
But local residents have listened to the out-of-towners and their big ideas more than the federal government has – and the locals want action. “If this was hitting the Florida beaches then Washington would be acting a lot faster,” said one frustrated resident.
Dan Sinykin, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, runs Monterey Mills and is one of the many inventors eager to help. Sinykin spent a considerable amount of his own money to travel to the Gulf with his team to showcase his industrial fabric that grabs the oil once it touches it. A Monterey Mills video showing its fabric went viral on the Internet, catching the attention of the U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), singer/songwriter Sophie B. Hawkins and thousands of everyday Americans. To watch the video yourself, click here.
In one day of touring, I spoke with six entrepreneurs from all over the country eager to prove that they could help. Every one of them had paid their own expenses to research and develop their product and personally invested in trips to multiple cities in and around the Gulf region to make their case. And none of them could actually get an official appointment with any decision maker. “I’ve had my application in with BP and the federal government for 60 days, I haven’t heard a thing,” said one frustrated inventor of a high tech oil skimmer.
But what troubles the locals most is why people have to prove that they can help. Why not take assistance from wherever we can get it? And most importantly, why is the Obama administration deferring authority to BP?
This oil spill is so massive that BP and the Obama administration should be asking -- moreover begging -- Americans for their ideas and time.
Unfortunately, entrepreneurs and do-gooders are having to plead even for attention, much less to be able to help.
We’ve been watching oil pour into the Gulf for 78 days now; isn’t it time President Obama got out of the way so American innovators can help solve the problem?
Richard Grenell served as the spokesman for 4 U.S. Ambassadors to the U.N. including John Negroponte, John Danforth, John Bolton and Zalmay Khalilzad. He currently writes from Los Angeles where his pieces can be seen at www.richardgrenell.com.
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