Government Bans Reporters in Gulf

Oil spill birdsThe U.S. Coast Guard put in place a new rule slapping journalists with felony charges, a $40,000 fine and one to five years in prison for coming too close to oil spill clean-up efforts without permission. Anderson Cooper of CNN says the new rule makes it "very easy to hide incompetence or failure." The Coast Guard rule prohibits vessels from coming within 20 meters (65 feet) of booming operations, boom or oil spill response operations "under penalty of law." But since oil spill cleanup operations are being conducted on most of the beaches, the rule bans reporters from just about everywhere they need to be. The new rule contradicts a statement made by Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen in June, when he promised that "Media will have uninhibited access anywhere we're doing operations, except for two things -- if it's a security or safety problem." Anderson Cooper, commenting on the new rule, said '"Those of us down here trying to accurately show what is happening -- we are not the enemy. I've not heard about any journalist who's disrupted relief efforts; no journalist wants to be seen as having slowed down the cleanup or made things worse. If a Coast Guard official asked me to move, I'd move. But to create a blanket rule that everyone has to stay 65 feet away from boom and boats, that doesn't sound like transparency."


This is flat out ridiculous that reporters are not allowed near the accident site. Doesn't the world have a right to get the facts and see pictures of the destruction that this disaster has done to our planet! It just goes to show... that when you have enough money - you are basically untouchable.

For a country that prides itself on freedom and "Knowing the truth" this is insane. this is certainly a very ugly side of American politics.

We all understand that media can be very difficult, however in this situation where EVERYONE knows what is going on, do not make sense to stop the news. we have to think that many of our children are going to be affected for this situation, not just that our planet is already with a lot a contamination and we cannot do ANYTHING, so why hide from the people. Does not make sense.

I wonder if they have plans on how to restore the damages. Wish this will be over.

Don't we have a right to know what's going on? this really makes me mad.

Yes there are a group of people that makes decisions like this. So what kind of democracy is in United States if these people decides what we should know?

Doesn't the rest of the world have a right to know what is going on? What better way to teach our children and future generations how important it is to look after and protect our oceans, than showing them the effects of a disaster like this.

It's a 20 meter (65 foot) safety zone. It's designed to protect the Anderson Coopers of the world from mucking up the response effort. In twenty years of oil spill response, I have seen reporters (mostly TV reporters, who for some reason seem to consider themselves omnipotent):
- drive outboard skiffs over containment boom, cutting it in two.
- walk through uncleaned beach areas and then track oil into command centers and hotels
- ignore warning signs and set up cameras in nesting areas, crushing arctic tern eggs
- cut off response vessels, forcing them to drop their towlines and release oil from inside containment booms
- ransack my lunch while I'm working
- ignore hazardous environment warnings (like smoking in front of a "Flammable Liquids - No Smoking" sign)
The litany could go on for pages. 20 meters is enough distance so that they can't screw up the response but close enough that they can see/smell/hear what's happening. If 20 meters puts them too far away for the classic camera shot, too bad. If they want to see the details, get a pair of binoculars.

If the government is trying to assure that relief efforts are not slowed down that is one thing. Sixty-five feet doesn't seem that excessive, does it?
However, if there is anything that the public needs to know in order to protect our health and our children and the collecting and dispersing of that information is being hampered then that is equally as outrageous as the spill itself.
I know that I certainly don't trust the government to disclose the information that the public needs to protect our health.
How 'bout you?