Just three months ago, Barack Obama proposed downsizing the United States Coast Guard’s oil spill response team, the Washington Post reports. Talk about bad timing:
Three months before the massive BP oil spill erupted in the Gulf of Mexico, the Obama administration proposed downsizing the Coast Guard national coordination center for oil spill responses, prompting its senior officers to warn that the agency’s readiness for catastrophic events would be weakened…
Accidents happen, “but what you’re seeing here is the government is not properly set up to deal with this kind of issue,” said Robbin Laird, a defense consultant who has worked on Coast Guard issues. “The idea that you would even think about getting rid of catastrophic environmental spill equipment or expertise at the Department of Homeland Security, are you kidding me?”
“Cutting a strike team is nuts,” said Stephen Flynn, a former Coast Guard commander and now president of the Center for National Policy, a Washington think tank. “Whether it’s an accident of man or an act of terrorism, it requires almost the exact same skill set to clean it up.”
President Obama’s $10.1 billion spending plan for the Coast Guard would scale back funding and active-duty personnel by 3 percent. As part of a proposal to cut 1,100 military personnel, it would decommission the National Strike Force Coordination Center in Elizabeth City, N.C., and reorganize parts of it elsewhere.
The center serves as the national command for the Coast Guard activity responsible for sending technical experts and specialized equipment such as pumps and chemical dispersant monitors to support on-scene commanders.
I’m as conservative and small government as the next guy, but the government does have certain responsibilities. Like securing the border, protecting the people from actual enemies foreign and domestic, and responding to major disasters. It seems cutting funding for the Coast Guard undercuts all of those responsibilities.