Administrator Jackson: Dispatches from the Gulf Coast

Blog from Administrator Lisa P. Jackson at 7:17 p.m. Saturday, May 1.

Administrator Jackson thanks volunteers

Administrator Jackson thanks volunteers

Steel toe boots.

Fishermen, shrimpers and other men and women of the Gulf community turned out in droves. I met them at community centers, churches and city hall. They all had one question: how can I help?

The fishermen at Shell Beach said they’d do anything to head out and lay boom. They wanted to help right now. Their way of life was on the line. But, some said they hit a peculiar roadblock: their shoes. Yes. You read correctly.

Fishermen were told they could not take part in efforts to lay boom unless they wore steel toe boots. That is absurd.

These men and women have spent their lives on these waters. They know them better than anyone and don’t need anybody’s steel toe boots to sail them now. Especially when so much is at stake.

A simple phone call to BP fixed this problem. Footwear should absolutely not impede the thousands of Gulf Coast residents who want to save their way of life.

Workplace safety is terribly important. But it’s unacceptable to tell men and women, who know these seas like the back of their hands, that they can’t help lay boom because of their footwear.

This seems to be an easy fix. Other problems in this complex situation won’t be so simple. But it shows that a desire to put problem solving above process is critical as we address this environmental challenge of the highest order.