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BP Oil Spill Update 7/1/2010

Media, boaters could face criminal penalties by entering oil cleanup
‘safety zone’:

CNN  “AC360” TRANSCRIPT: Anderson Cooper comments on new 65-foot
“exclusion zone”:
Summary: New rules in the Gulf will make it more difficult to see the
disturbing reality of this disaster. Despite promises of transparency
and full access - photographers, reporters and the general public now
could face fines and felony charges if they get too close to response
vessel or booms.


U.S.A., R.I.P.

[COMMENT: The US Coast Guard has a proud tradition of serving the
people of the United States. During and after Hurricane Katrina, the
Coast Guard was one of the very few government agencies that conducted
itself in a truly honorable fashion; its servicemen and women proved
their competency by saving thousands of lives.

Today, however, under the leadership of Admiral Thad Allen, the US
Coast Guard appears to be little more than a complicit serf to its
corporate masters at BP, covering-up, and ~not~ cleaning-up, the
ongoing damage to the Gulf, the marine ecology, and the long-term
economic prospects of five Gulf-coast states.  The Coast Guard is no
longer guarding and defending our coast.

Instead, The US Coast Guard, under Commander Allen, has imposed a
65-foot (20 meter) “safety zone” surrounding all Deepwater Horizon
booming operations and oil response efforts taking place in Southeast
Louisiana. This is clearly designed to shred whatever remains of the
“transparency” promised by BP and its corporate government. All
concerned media, coastal residents, and volunteers face class-D felony
charges if they enter within the 65-foot boundary without the express
permission of the Coast Guard.

Imagine, the US Coast Guard, willfully, brazenly blocking the US
public and our few remaining independent journalists from accessing
our public waters and being full witness to BP’s eco-catastrophe.

“Sixty-five feet”... in the immense Gulf of Mexico!

If Commander Thad Allen still has a job on Tuesday, July 6th, there is
something deeply wrong with our country, because a free and sovereign
people would not tolerate such conduct by its government. I suppose it
will mean, in a larger sense, that we have all consented to BP’s de
facto (or real?) ownership of The Gulf of Mexico. “Move along, move
along, you are not allowed to look there!” says Admiral Allen. I
suppose it will also confirm, as countless observers more sage than I
have already warned, that a new and fully-native form of corporate
fascism, “21st-Century, US Style” is finally, firmly in place, in the

Oh, and one afterthought please: President Obama; are you paying ~any~
attention at all to what is going on in The Gulf of Mexico? Admiral
Allen works for you, too! And have you no shame?

--Jason  ]]


Media, boaters could face criminal penalties by entering oil cleanup
‘safety zone’:
...The Coast Guard on Tuesday had initially established an even
stricter “safety zone” of more than 300 feet, but reduced the distance
to 20 meters – 65 feet – on Wednesday. In order to get within the
65-foot limit, media must call the Coast Guard captain of the Port of
New Orleans, Edwin Stanton, to get permission.
Associated Press photographer Gerald Herbert, who has been documenting
the oil spill, raised concerns about the restrictions within his news
organization on Wednesday. He has asked for a sit-down with Coast
Guard officials to discuss the new policy – and the penalties – but
has not received a response.
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said he feels media
access is important to getting the word out about the local impact of
the spill, and said the Coast Guard’s safety measures were an

“I think somebody came up with a good reason of how to justify keeping
the press away,” Nungesser said. “But guess what? That isn’t gonna
keep us away. Anytime you all want, you all can come in there wherever
we go, on our boats.”
Although the order mandating the safety zone was carried out by the
captains of the Ports of New Orleans, Morgan City and Mobile, Ala., a
spokeswoman at the joint information center for the unified command
said the order was a Coast Guard-wide directive from the top.


Coast Guard establishes 20-meter safety zone around all Deepwater
Horizon protective boom; operations:
NEW ORLEANS - The Captains of the Port for Morgan City, La., New
Orleans, La., and Mobile, Ala. , under the authority of the Ports and
Waterways Safety Act, has established a 20- meter safety zone
surrounding all Deepwater Horizon booming operations and oil response
efforts taking place in Southeast Louisiana.

Vessels must not come within 20 meters of booming operations, boom, or
oil spill response operations under penalty of law.

The safety zone has been put in place to protect members of the
response effort, the installation and maintenance of oil containment
boom, the operation of response equipment and protection of the
environment by limiting access to and through deployed protective

In areas where vessels operators cannot avoid the 20-meter rule, they
are required to be cautious of boom and boom operations by transiting
at a safe speed and distance.

Violation of a safety zone can result in up to a $40,000 civil
penalty. Willful violations may result in a class D felony.

Permission to enter any safety zone must be granted by the Coast Guard
Captain of the Port of New Orleans by calling 504-846-5923.


[This is probably the primary reason why the once-proud Coast Guard
has, on behalf of its new pimp-daddy, BP, imposed the new class-D
felony rules]:



CNN TRANSCRIPT: Anderson Cooper comments on new 65-foot “exclusion zone”

But we begin, as we do every night, "Keeping Them Honest".

This time, however, we're not talking about BP. We're talking about
the government, a new a rule announced today backed by the force of
law and the threat of fines and felony charges, a rule that will
prevent reporters and photographers and anyone else from getting
anywhere close to booms and oil-soaked wildlife and just about any
place we need to be.

By now, you're probably familiar with cleanup crews stiff-arming the
media, private security blocking cameras, ordinary workers clamming
up, some not even saying who they're working for because they're
afraid of losing their jobs.

BP has said again and again that's not their policy. Yet, again and
again, it has happened. And we have seen it. But that's BP.

And now the government apparently is getting in on the act, despite
what Admiral Thad Allen promised about transparency just nearly a
month ago. Here is what he said back then.


a written directive -- and I can provide it for the record -- that
says the media will have uninhibited access anywhere we're doing
operations, except for two things, if it's a security or a safety
problem. That is my policy.


COOPER: Uninhibited access, unless it's a security or safety problem.

Well, the Coast Guard today announced new rules keeping photographers
and reporters and anyone else from coming within 65 feet of any
response vessel or booms out on the water or on beaches -- 65 feet.

Now, in order to get closer, you have to get direct permission from
the Coast Guard captain of the Port of New Orleans. You have to call
up the guy. What this means is that oil-soaked birds on islands
surrounded by boom, you can't get close enough to take that picture.

Shots of oil on beaches with booms, stay 65 feet away. Pictures of
oil-soaked booms uselessly laying in the water because they haven't
been collected like they should, you can't get close enough to see
that. And, believe me, that is out there.

But you only know that if you get close to it, and now you can't
without permission. Violators could face a fine of $40,000 and Class D
felony charges.

What's even more extraordinary is that the Coast Guard tried to make
the exclusion zone 300 feet, before scaling it back to 65 feet.

Here is how Admiral Allen defends it.


ALLEN: Well, it's not unusual at all for the Coast Guard to establish
either safety or security zones around any number of facilities or
activities for public safety or for the safety of the equipment
itself. We would do this for marine events, fireworks demonstrations,
cruise ships going in and out of port.


COOPER: So, this is the exact same logic that federal wildlife
officials used to prevent CNN on two occasions from getting pictures
of oiled birds that have been collected, pictures like -- like the --
well, that we're about to show you which are obviously deeply
disturbing, pictures of oiled gulls that we just happened to catch.
Suddenly, we were told after -- after that day we couldn't catch it
anymore. So, keeping prying eyes out of marshes, away from booms, off
the beaches is now government policy.

When asked why now, after all this time, Thad Allen said he had gotten
some complaints from local officials worried people might get hurt.
Now, we don't know who these officials are. We would like to. But
transparency is apparently not a high priority with Thad Allen either
these days.

Maybe he is accurate and some officials are concerned. And that's
their right. But we've heard far more from local officials about not
being able to get a straight story from the government or BP. I have
met countless local officials desperate for pictures to be taken and
stories written about what is happening in their communities.

We're not the enemy here. Those of us down here trying to accurately
show what's happening, we are not the enemy. I have not heard about
any journalist who has disrupted relief efforts. No journalist wants
to be seen as having slowed down the cleanup or made things worse. If
a Coast Guard official asked me to move, I would move.

But to create a blanket rule that everyone has to stay 65 feet away
boom and boats, that doesn't sound like transparency. Frankly, it's a
lot like in Katrina when they tried to make it impossible to see
recovery efforts of people who died in their homes.

If we can't show what is happening, warts and all, no one will see
what's happening. And that makes it very easy to hide failure and hide
incompetence and makes it very hard to highlight the hard work of
cleanup crews and the Coast Guard. We are not the enemy here.

We found out today two public broadcasting journalists reporting on
health issues say they have been blocked again and again from visiting
a federal mobile medical unit in Venice, a trailer where cleanup
workers are being treated. It's known locally as the BP compound. And
these two reporters say everyone they have talked to, from BP to the
Coast Guard, to Health and Human Services in Washington has been
giving them the runaround.

We're not talking about a CIA station here. We're talking about a
medical trailer that falls under the authority of, guess who, Thad
Allen, the same Thad Allen who promised transparency all those weeks

We are not the enemy here.

With us now, two parish presidents, Billy Nungesser of Plaquemines
Parish and Craig Taffaro, Jr. of Saint Bernard.

Thanks very much for being with us. What do you make of this 65-foot
rule, Billy?

instead of spending time picking up the oil, getting more skimmers,
I'm blown away. You know, does this mean, if I'm out or one of the
fisherman is out and sees a pelican, he fears he's going to be fined
or arrested, so he doesn't go into that area?

The only boom that's been disturbed has been because we had the wrong
type of boom or they put it down wrong or the winds have blown it up
into the marsh.

COOPER: And you can only see that if you actually get within, say,
five feet, maybe 10 feet, of that boom and you see, oh, look, that's
oil-soaked boom that should have been picked up weeks ago.

NUNGESSER: I see why now we don't have the equipment we need. We're
spending more time trying to come up with a reason why to keep people
away, instead of coming up with equipment and deploying -- we've got
that large ship sitting in Venice. It breaks my heart --


COOPER: This is a huge skimming vessel.

NUNGESSER: And still red tape keeps it there. Maybe if they spent more
time getting things like that deployed to pick up the oil, they
wouldn't have to worry about blocking access from the media.

This is crazy. I'm not calling the Port of New Orleans. And anybody
that wants to come down to Plaquemines Parish, we will take you right
up to show you the birds. I don't give a care about their rule. We're
going to fix the boom. We're going to suck up the oil, and we're going
to do our job and we're going to let the media have access.

If we did our job and did the right thing, the news you would be
reporting would be good news. You would be showing marsh being
cleaned. You would be showing the things.



I like “Joe’s” comment the best:
July 1st, 2010 10:06 pm ET
Why no criticism of Obama?  He's ultimately in charge.  You keep
blaming Thad Allen, but no criticism of Obama, why is that?

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