In the 69 days since the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, much has been made of the need to stop the flow of oil into the ocean. The media and the Obama Administration have focused their attention on stopping the millions of gallons of crude oil billowing into the Gulf, but they are doing little to soak up the oil already released. Ideas and new technologies for separating oil from water are proliferating all over the country, and demonstrations of their success are extremely popular on the Internet - but no one in charge of the Gulf spill is contacting the everyday Americans looking to help. While shutting off the flow is absolutely crucial, the fixation on stopping the flow has obscured the terrible impact the oil is having on the marshes and beaches right now. There is an urgent need to stop it from reaching the shores and clean it up before it flows to the beaches. Concerned Americans and our innovative businesses should be called upon to use their know-how to help clean the water now.
The oil is spreading across the Gulf region, polluting waterways, fouling wetlands and making it difficult for boats and marine life to travel. At risk are livelihoods, ecosystems and our fragile national economic recovery. Why are we not calling upon everyone with an idea or creative technology to do something? Americans can solve any problem if we are given the chance.
The multi-billion dollar seafood industry, which provides the country with fish, crab, shrimp and shellfish and the local economies with valuable jobs and businesses face the possibility of ruin. And the natural habitats necessary to sustain fish harvest levels are at risk of breaking down, possibly forever. So why isn't the Obama team acting more forcefully?
As the oil spreads to beaches across Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, tourists planning to spend their summer on the white beaches of the Gulf Coast will head elsewhere. These blows to the local economy would be hard to take at any time, but they are particularly challenging in a time when the economy is struggling to get back on its feet. So why isn't BP acting faster to call upon new technologies to help with the cleanup?
The country simply cannot afford to sit and wait for a solution to stop the flow of oil before we begin soaking up the escaped oil as it reaches the shore. President Obama needs to be spending as much time on strategies to soak up the oil as he is on finding a way to shut off the leaking pipe. And BP needs to try as many methods as possible to remove the oil. They should take a look at ideas like the one from Monterrey Mills, a Wisconsin-based fabric manufacturer. In this amazing video below, company President Dan Sinykin shows how his company's wool fabric can soak up oil in a matter of minutes. It's a great idea that isn't being implemented.
While BP should consider every idea that has a reasonable chance of working, it should pay careful attention to ideas that can be implemented immediately. Monterrey Mills is already mass-producing the material seen in the video. So why aren't we trying these ideas?
Nobody is blaming President Obama for causing this terrible oil disaster, but we are upset with his Administration for not responding for 37 days and then --when they finally got around to taking the situation seriously--, spending too little time on cleaning up the billowing oil and stopping it from reaching our shores. The President and BP should start using American technologies to suck up the oil and not just wait for the hole to be plugged. American citizens are ready, willing and able to help the Gulf. Mr. President, please invite us in.