Washington (CNN) – A Louisiana lawmaker expressed frustration Wednesday about the schism that has been revealed between the advanced technology used to drill for oil and gas and the less advanced technology available to clean up an oil spill.
“Part of the frustration I have not only with our government but with the oil industry is they are drilling with 21st century technology and we’re trying to clean up with 20th century technology,” Rep. Charlie Melancon, D-Louisiana, said on CNN’s John King, USA. “That dog doesn’t hunt. We should have the best.”
Melancon also told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King that in the wake of the Exxon Valdez incident in 1989 the federal government probably should have had a commission look into new technology for cleaning up oil spills. The Democrat imagined the development of something like the fire extinguishers many Americans have in their kitchens that could be quickly deployed in the wake of a massive oil release like the one caused by the out of control well spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico. “That’s not been done,” Melancon told King.
Coast Guard officials in charge of the response effort do not dispute that much of the effort involves older equipment and technology.
But they also say they are rushing to add new approaches to the mix, including Dutch skimming arms that arrived in recent days. Also new on the scene: "current busters" from Norway which can skim oil at speeds of up to 4 knots.
Most vessels must travel much more slowly, at .7 to 1 knot.
"We are trying to bring in the most advanced technology we can," Coast Guard Capt. Roger Laferriere told CNN Wednesday.
Melancon's remarks are not the first time the lawmaker has spoken out about the oil spill that is impacting areas within his congressional district.
Melancon has previously suggested that BP CEO Tony Hayward should return to the United Kingdom after the energy executive made remarks that Melancon considered insensitive and flippant. Hayward apologized but Melancon said the apology was not enough in his view.
And at a congressional hearing late last month about the Gulf oil spill, Melancon became emotional, broke down, was unable to continue reading his prepared remarks and had to excuse himself from the committee hearing room.
Updated: 10:08 p.m.