Too-big feds failed on BP oil spill just like on Katrina
During the oil spill some critics said that I was being hypocritical because I believed in limited government and was also demanding more federal assistance. But they miss the point entirely. I'm not an anarchist. I believe government has a role--and at
its most basic level the role of government is to protect life, liberty, and property. Dealing with a disaster like the oil spill certainly fits the job description. I believe that part of the reason the federal government failed to respond effectively
to the oil spill (and for that matter, five years earlier during Hurricane Katrina) is precisely because government has become too big.
The federal government's response to the oil spill was lackadaisical from the start.
Shortly after the oil well blew, we asked federal authorities how they were going to prioritize and deploy resources to protect our shoreline. We grew frustrated when they would not adjust their plans to respond adequately to a crisis of this magnitude.
Feds took weeks to build sand berms needed for BP spill
On fighting the BP oil spill: Time and time again, land barriers stopped the oil that got past the skimmers and boom and served as our last line of defense to protect our wetlands. We knew there were no silver bullets to magically stop the oil, but it
was important to have multiple lines of defense rather than relying on one tactic alone. So in early May we submitted a proposal to build sand berms to protect our state so that we could fight the oil miles away from our wetlands. We waited. And waited.
The federal government refused to give us a timely answer. We heard nothing for weeks, even though sand berms are recognized as proven oil spill response technique by the US Coast Guard. We went ahead and built one berm on our own to demonstrate its
effectiveness, and saw it repeatedly prevent oil from entering our wetlands. It was weeks later that the federal government finally decided to make BP pay for all six segments. Of course, by that point, more than 100 miles of shoreline had been oiled.
Faith-based groups moved faster than feds during Katrina
A sheriff in my district had called federal offices to ask for Katrina assistance and was told he would have to email his request. The bureaucrat was just following procedure, you see, to have a record of the request. When the sheriff mentioned that he,
like the rest of his town, had no electricity, the bureaucrat suggested he call someone who could email the details--and be sure to include the part about not being able to email in the email. Almost every other official around the table told a similar
story of the red tape maze.
In many cases, charities, faith-based groups, and not-for-profit organizations move faster and are more flexible than federal programs. Don't get me wrong--there is a role for government, which has to build those levees and
otherwise ensure our basic safety. And we must acknowledge that the National Guard responded to Katrina with stunning courage, as did the Coast Guard, which is estimated to have rescues 33,000 people. But FEMA's centralized model simply didn't work.
$300 million for hurricane protection & coastal restoration
I have proposed a $300 million investment--the largest financial commitment in our state’s history--to hurricane protection and coastal restoration efforts. We must begin to fund the projects in our state’s master plan immediately so we can get to
work on protecting our coast and guarding against the next possible disaster. Coastal restoration can no longer wait. Hurricane protection efforts can no longer be delayed. The time for studies is long past gone. We need to get started.
Source: Second Special Session Speech
, Mar 9, 2008
Voted YES on increasing AMTRAK funding by adding $214M to $900M.
Voting YES on this amendment would restore $214 million in funding for AMTRAK, bringing the total annual expenditure for AMTRAK to $1.114 billion. The chairman of the Railroad Subcommittee explained the increase as follows:
Unlike aviation, highways and transit, there is no dedicated funding for investing in our Nation's passenger rail service. This amendment restores $214 million to the Amtrak account, taking it to $1.114 billion, which is still about $300 million less than we had during the course of last year's discussion.
Last year the President sent up a budget of zero for Amtrak. We had an amendment process that we went through this time. This time we are up to $900 million in the bill [without this amendment].
But if you look at that $900 million, there is only $500 million for capital expenditures, out of which has to come a debt service of $280 million, which only leaves $220 million for the capital needs of this country for Amtrak, for passenger rail.
There is nothing for
operation, and I know that the response to that is going to be that there are some incentive grants in the bill.
Opponents of the amendment say that it would increase funding for Amtrak by gutting and eliminating critical programs, including safety programs, resulting in reductions in force at several agencies.
An amendment to prohibit funding the "Yucca Mountain Youth Zone" website. Voting YES indicates opposition to using Yucca Mountain as the national nuclear waste repository. The amendment's sponsor says:
I would like to introduce the American people to the newest member of the Bush administration's energy policy team. His name is Yucca Mountain Johnny. He is the star of the Energy Department's Yucca Mountain Youth Zone Web site devoted to brainwashing school children into believing that burying the Nation's nuclear garbage 90 miles from Los Vegas is safe.
The Web site features games and activities to make high level nuclear waste fun. High level nuclear waste is not fun. It is dangerous, and the Department of Energy should not be using taxpayer money for a propaganda tool.
I would probably not be as upset with Joe Camel, excuse me, Yucca Mountain Johnny, if there was a more balanced approach on this Web site. It doesn't talk about the potential of accidents or being an inviting target for
terrorists. It doesn't talk about the fact that Yucca Mountain is in a volcanic and seismic zone area. It doesn't say anything about the existence of safer and cheaper alternatives.
Among Yucca Mountain Johnny's witty sayings, he says, "The worst mistake is never making one." Well, Yucca Mountain is a mistake. This Web site is a mistake. Yucca Mountain Johnny is a mistake, and to promote the proposed nuclear waste repository to our children under the guise of education is a big mistake.
The amendment's opponents respond:
To my knowledge, nobody has questioned the accuracy or truth of what is on the Web site. My guess is that most of the children that access this website use it for term papers and papers in their classrooms that they have to do on nuclear power.
Whether you oppose or support the repository, we should at least want the facts out to our children and adults who wish to use that same Web site about just what exactly it is.