Why Can't We Rake Hay While the Oil Slimes?

Two ordinary guys have come up with a safe, cheap, green solution to clean up the oil spill. So why isn't our government or BP trying it out?
06/07/2010 04:23 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Two ordinary guys have come up with a safe, cheap, green solution to clean up the oil spill. So why isn't our government or BP trying it out?

Have you seen the hay video? You know, the one where two ordinary men clean up a bowl full of oil in water by letting the viscous fluid attach itself to hay -- yeah, hay -- and then just lift the clump out, leaving virtually clear water behind?

As I write this, over 1,609,000 Youtube fans have watched the video of CW Roberts Contracting employees Darryl Carpenter and Otis Goodson spooning oil-filled hay out of water. (If you're not one of them, watch it here.) Rachel Maddow posted the video clip on her blog. Countless people have put the video's link on their Facebook pages.

But the question remains: Has anyone in charge of the cleanup seen this video? Are they taking it seriously? Is there anyone even in charge of the cleanup, seriously?

While BP spends $50 million on their own video about how they're trying really hard to do whatever it is they're doing -- which doesn't seem to include capping that leak -- cleanup efforts are mostly taking place when the damage is already done: as the oil hits our shores. There's not enough Dawn dishwashing liquid in the world to get that amount of grease out of our way.

What Carpenter and Goodson propose is using hay and dry grasses, to which the oil adheres, out at sea. The oil-soaked hay would gather in clumps and could be harnessed by fishing nets (which can't be used for their original purposes right now anyway). The clumps that wash ashore could be raked up easily.

In fact, this is probably why our government, the EPA, BP, and pretty much nobody else who has a say in the cleanup effort has publicly addressed the hay solution: It's too cheap, too green, too easy. What, you mean we wouldn't have to pay some other country a gazillion dollars for enough chemical dispersant to make the oil look like the lesser of two evils? You mean we could start a WPA-like movement and get people who were laid off in our other disaster, the Recession, to clean up hay clumps? That's not just easy -- it's crazy.

Yeah. Crazy enough to work. And if it can't work, someone should tell us why. And if they won't tell us why, it's time to light the torches and storm the castle.

I've written to the White House politely suggesting that those involved in trying to end this catastrophe take a gander at the video. You can too, right here. One of the worst feelings associated with this disaster (I beg to differ, Don Young) is helplessness. Let's not stand by doing nothing; let's make use of hay before the oil slimes any further.