That is how many National Guard troops that Governor Haley Barbour has sent to the Gulf for clean up. The President authorized 6000 for his state (out of 17,500 total authorized) and he has sent only 58. He's not the only one, Bobby Jindal is doing the same thing. From CBS
But nearly two months after the governor requested - and the Department of Defense approved the use of 6,000 Louisiana National Guard troops - only a fraction - 1,053 - have actually been deployed by Jindal to fight the spill.
But CBS News has learned that in addition to Louisiana's 1,053 troops of 6,000, Alabama has deployed 432 troops of 3,000 available. Even fewer have been deployed in Florida - 97 troops out of 2,500 - and Mississippi - 58 troops out of 6,000.
Those figures prompted President Obama to weigh in.
"I urge the governors in the affected states to activate these troops as soon as possible," Mr. Obama said.
It's believed officials in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi and are reluctant to use more troops because their presence could hurt tourism. In hardest-hit Louisiana, however, Jindal is pointing fingers.
"Actually we asked the White House to approve the initial 6,000," Jindal said. "What they came back and said is the Coast Guard and BP had to authorize individual tasks."
Here is the biggest issue I am having with this political debacle. I am hearing the meme time and time again that the President isn't doing enough. That said, he HAS authorized National Guard troops, but it is the STATES that have to call these personnel up for duty. This would fall under what is called a 'State's Rights
' issue. The Governors call them up so they can be incorporated into the Coast Guard efforts.
In fact, the Coast Guard says every request to use the National Guard has been approved, usually within a day. Now Jindal's office acknowledged to CBS News the governor has not specifically asked for more Guard troops to be deployed.
Jindal is also trying to prevent the public from really seeing his states response to the BP oil spill. From Nola
The governor's veto of the Smith bill sets up a scenario in which his agencies could shield documents from the public while at the same time turning them over to BP and its lawyers through the discovery process in the legal proceedings. It would be up to the court to decide which documents would be made public.
Jindal for years has lobbied to preserve broad exemptions for the governor's office in Louisiana's public records law. The House bill would have cracked open a category of records related to the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the state's response.
"I'm saddened by his action, but not surprised," said Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, who amended Smith's public records bill to include the provision about the oil spill documents. "His excuse is he is afraid that BP would find out something Louisiana did, and I always thought justice was about the truth and facts."
And Barbor has made it clear that re-election in the only thing that matters to him right now. He said the follwing at a fundraiser for his PAC last week
"The most important thing right now is the 2010 elections," Barbour said. "We can't wait until 2012 to take back our country."
Once again, according to people like Jindal, it's the administrations fault for not responding properly or fast enough.
This may be hard to imagine, Jindal NEVER had a statewide disaster response. The agency has been slashed in half over the last decade, with Jindal adding to those cuts
The state has an oil spill coordinator’s office. Its staff shrank by half over the last decade, and the 17-year-old oil spill research and development program that is associated with the office had its annual $750,000 in financing cut last year. The coordinator is responsible for drawing up and signing off on spill contingency plans with the Coast Guard and a committee of federal, state and local officials.
Some of these plans are rife with omissions, including pages of blank charts that are supposed to detail available supplies of equipment like oil-skimming vessels. A draft action plan for a worst case is among many requirements in the southeast Louisiana proposal listed as “to be developed.”
Haley Barbor would like everyone to Pray
while he fundraises. He has also joined in the blame the Federal Response Meme
We continue to press the Federal Unified Command and BP to increase the amount of resources available to attack the oil beginning as far south as possible, through the passes, into the sound, and in the mouths of the bays.
"While command and control of on-water resources has improved, it must get much better, and the amount of resources to attack the oil offshore must be greatly increased. Under the circumstances, we are taking some of that into our own hands."
Let me remind you again, he has called up 58 out of 6000 National Guard members.
So who's truly is hindering the Federal response to the BP oil spill recovery effort here? The President authorized 17,500 troops to the region but only a fraction of them have been called up by the states. When people wonder why the Coast Guard isn't doing enough or doing it fast enough, could it possibly be they don't have the required personnel they need? There are literally THOUSANDS (15,860 to be exact) of people waiting for the call to help. That call has not been made.
It seems more important for Barbour and Jindal to score political points and cash than really focus on this disaster. Nice to know they really care about the Gulf coast.