The temporary cap on the Deep Horizon Oil Well is not adequate to collect the crude oil that copiously gushes into the Gulf of Mexico. This is a great environmental tragedy, but it is not the time to point fingers of blame at companies, to send down lawyers to threaten lawsuits or to lecture governors. Instead, it is time to encourage the American People to do what they have always done best, and that is to make the best of a bad situation by making it profitable to solve a given problem.
Technical solutions to this environmental problem are really straightforward and do not require any more studies by the federal government because these problems have been discussed for years. First, keep the oil off your main shoreline by all means possible. You can block it from coming ashore by dredging artificial islands and by filling the gaps with booms. Second, you can burn the oil on the surface of the water using fire boom technology which has been with us for years. Third, you can chemically disburse the oils, although this has been controversial lately as some fishermen have become ill from the disbursants. They are not hazard free, but less problematic than having the oil reach the shore. Finally, there are oil-water separator ships used by the Saudi Arabians and other allies that may lend us the vessels to correct this problem. These ships would siphon the oil off the water, separate it, and return unsullied water to the Gulf.
When the oil does hit the shore, and it has, you had better be ready, and not wait for FEMA or some other Federal Agency to help you. Here is what states, businesses and individuals can do:
The great American oil refineries in Houston and across this country, but led by Houston and especially GATX, should to be given presidential permission to upgrade and expand their facilities and increase their shifts to 24/7 operations in order to receive the contaminated oil. Once they have that permission, they can receive the slurry of contaminated oil, re-crack it, and turn it into products such as the petroleum engineers determine. These could be everything from fetilizers, to plastics to asphalts. More than likely, the heavy oil would only be able to be used for heavy products like plastics and asphalt because of the evaporation that occurs at sea and the weathering effect of the sun and sea on the petroleum.
Once the American petroleum companies have received permission to expand their facilities, they should invite and encourage Fishermen, Watermen and other interested parties to be involved in all aspects of the oil cleanup operation with the incentive that they will pay fair market value for the oil collected. Usually emergency HAZMAT cleanup is pretty profitable, and it would keep Americans working instead of being laid off and sitting around at the marina, drinking coffee and feeling sorry for themselves. The best of the American Spirit would rise up - that we can do something to stop and even solve this massive oil spill problem.
The Seafarers know more about going to sea and handling cleanup than the government could ever teach them. Get out of their way and let them create their own plans to collect the oil. They'll do it.
Where volunteers and entrepreneurs are lacking, use forced labor because this is a national emergency. This means prisoners, others in trouble with the law, and welfare recipients, who should give back to their communities instead of taking. This is not about skilled work. We are talking about picking up blobs of oil from the beach, putting it in trash bags, and hauling it off to be dumped in an oil bin. Obviously, work camps would be segregated according to the risks demanded by the different communities.
This is a problem that is not going to go away in a a few weeks or even a few months. The oil spill problem may last for years the way the current leadership is handling it. We may need people to collect oil and contribute to oil spill clean up for quite a while, but it is one way to keep the American private flotilla of fishing and recreational boats and the American Merchant Marine ready reserve fleet fully operational. It would also provide economic incentive to help with the clean up operations.
Scott and Ruth Seiler