The Coast Guard and other agencies can dip into emergency funds whenever there are emergencies. The rest of the time, they are strapped for cash and, in fact, the Coast Guard needs money. The service is due to cut 1,100 uniform positions and drop some missions.
Let’s change and not play the usual
Offshore oil and gas fields will be developed by the private sector. The private sector is where the tools for oil drilling are going to come from and where the oil will be refined and delivered in support of economic growth and development. The government does not have to do any of this. It gets to sit back and tax the revenues. Its obligation is the protection and stewardship of the oceans, coasts and the people in the labor force.
The administration is going to reform the Minerals Management Service, the federal agency responsible for licensing offshore drilling. They are going to split the agency so that the revenue receiving side and the regulatory side are separate and this is being done to ensure that the risk of conflict of interest goes down. A better plan would be to figure how the Coast Guard can be more effectively resourced in working with the Minerals Management Agency so that oversight and preparation for disaster intervention is fully resourced and staffed.
Why do we need to worry about all this? Is there a great chance of another oil leak? Lets look at the stats. The eighth USCG district, the one providing for Gulf oil security and stewardship contains 6,500 oil and gas wells; 4,000 oil or gas production platforms and over 800 of which have full-time crew support. There are 116
And the challenges will be growing. A senior official underscored the deep offshore oil and gas enterprise. “The companies are going to be drilling and working so much farther offshore and deeper; the offshore energy sector is a huge game changer field technology-wise and what they’re doing now it pales in comparison two years ago. They’re not only going 10,000 feet deep; they’re also drilling deeper than before.”
We need a public discussion of the needs of the Coast Guard and other agencies to make this sector work more effectively. We need to fund the programs more effectively, and we could focus on funding more capabilities for the MMS and the Coast Guard out of the funds generated from offshore drilling. And we need to do this now because they are going deeper and farther than before, and we need to be ready and better prepared so the next time it is a “spill” and not a “disaster”.
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