Billy Nungesser: Why is the Coast Guard Acting Like a P.R. Firm for BP?
Anderson Cooper went back to what he does well rather than covering politics and covering what's going on the Gulf with this disaster BP has caused. His panel discussed a number of really important issues in this interview which deserve more time devoted to them by our "mainstream media". That said Louisiana's Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser's question is one that stood out to me that needs to be hammered on. I've seen no answers to it from anyone running the show with this disaster in the Gulf, and his question was why has the Coast Guard been acting like a P.R. firm for BP?
It's about damned time someone said it out loud on a major news network. I for one would love for that question to be answered. I'm quite sure everyone living in with that oil still coming ashore would like for that to be answered as well. I'm not optimistic we'll ever get an honest answer without subpoenas being issued to find out and I'm not holding my breath to get any from Eric Holder any time soon either.
Here's transcript of the full interview via CNN.
COOPER: Billy, I read a report that some folks are finding it harder to find oil now on the surface. Is that what you're hearing as well? And, if so, where's the oil? What does this mean? Is this all good news, that it's all dissipated?
NUNGESSER: Well, it's good news.
You know, we expected this storm to bring a lot of oil ashore. The storm actually broke up before it came ashore, and it really wasn't much of a storm. So, that was good news.
But I think the way this thing is being played up is like the oil is over because we didn't have oil after one small storm. There was a sheen out of Saint Bernard today. There is some on the inside of one of the islands.
But, to take a helicopter ride with the Coast Guard and BP, and think this is over -- we met tonight with the parish presidents. We feel like we're going to get hit real soon here with an exit plan and not wait this thing out. There's oil offshore. It took six weeks to come ashore. It's not going away any time soon just because they stopped the leak.
We're glad they did. We're glad we got people out there picking up, but we shouldn't call this thing over just yet.
COOPER: Congressman Markey, what -- what's your greatest concern right now?
MARKEY: My concern...
MARKEY: ... is that BP is waiting for the storm to pass, the political storm to pass, and then they will start backing away from the obligations which they have to the people in the Gulf of Mexico. My concern is that this delay in them putting the extra billions of dollars into this escrow account is just a preview of coming attractions.
My fear is that, as Bob Dudley is apparently going to become the new CEO, that the page won't be turned, that transparency and honesty for the people in the Gulf of Mexico will not have replaced this policy of deception that has been characteristic of the company right from the very beginning of this crisis. That's my greatest concern, which is why it is going to be necessary to keep an eagle eye on everything that they do from here on.
We are now in maybe the most dangerous period, where the people of the Gulf of Mexico might wind up just being forgotten, as the country starts looking at them in the rear-view mirror, as assurances are given to them that the worst has passed.
It has not passed economically for the people in the Gulf of Mexico. For most of them, it has just begun.
COOPER: Doug Brinkley, I assume you echo what the congressman just said.
BRINKLEY: I agree with him. I think BP is trying to demobilize from the area. They're trying to get out. Once that got capped, and they saw that it held up, their view is, we have fulfilled that responsibility. Now let's cut our losses from the Gulf South.
And the stalling, what they're hoping to do is get this off the front page. The news cycle is going to change. You know, at some point, "The New York Times" and CNN won't be focusing on it as much, and we won't be able to keep demanding, like we're doing tonight, that they act like a fair player.
Dudley's coming in now. He's from Mississippi. He's in a mode that he knows how to talk to these parish presidents in Louisiana. Yet, last week, they had a meeting at English Turn Country Club, and he blew them off 20 minutes before.
This was the -- Bobby Jindal, Mitch Landrieu, six parish presidents, including Billy, and here's Dudley blowing them off last minute. It's a constant insult to not just Louisiana, but to the United States. Yet, BP is this oil company that's making its money off of the consumers in this country.
It's about corporate arrogance on BP's part. And if they don't act and -- and pay people responsibly soon, I think the Justice Department, Eric Holder needs to make another trip to New Orleans. That's when they got nervous. They don't want jury trials, because, if you have jury trials in Louisiana, they're going to be paying lawsuits forever. Feinberg's giving them a way out with the $20 billion. They need to pay it.
COOPER: Billy, were you -- did you get blown off, and, if so, what was that like?
NUNGESSER: Well, absolutely.
Let me tell you, we -- we showed up there. I called the summit. And James Lee Witt, I could see he took a lot of heat from the -- the -- the governor, the mayor and parish presidents, took a lot of questions, and he said he would go back to them across the river. They were here in downtown New Orleans. They just canceled. We flew in from Lafayette after the rally on the moratorium.
And, while we were in flight, they had called and said they were not going to be there. You know, the thing that amazes me, when they tried to pull the equipment out before the storm, why is the Coast Guard writing a letter for BP?
Why is the Coast Guard -- it's like they're -- the Coast Guard is the P.R. firm for BP. We're supposed to take it because it's our own Coast Guard writing a letter, saying it's OK to take assets out. The Coast Guard should be there helping us.
Instead, it's like they're there to keep us quiet and help BP on the exit strategy. I have never seen anything like this. Somebody needs to stand up and answer some questions. Why is it the -- the Coast Guard won't get me boom. They won't me things I need in the parish, but they will help BP sneak equipment out of my parish.
That is criminal. It's criminal.
COOPER: We're going to have to leave it there.
Billy Nungesser, good to have you on.
Congressman Markey, thank you for your time.
And, Doug Brinkley, as well, appreciate it.