For the past two weeks, the Heritage Foundation has been down in the Gulf raising awareness about what is and is not working in the oil spill cleanup and what possible solutions exist that are being ignored by the media. Last Friday, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) led a group of eight Congressmen on a Gulf Coast visit and Distinguished Fellow Ernest Istook joined them, recording what they saw.

During a boat trip at Grand Isle, Louisiana, local officials, including Jefferson Parish Emergency Management Director Deano Bonano, described how bureaucracy—both from BP and from multiple federal agencies—has frustrated their attempts to halt oil from rushing between the coastal islands and into the large bay they border.

But rather than empower local officials to do what is necessary to protect their coastline, their environment, and their way of life, officials feel that bureaucracy has hindered much of the help they have sought to provide.

Rep. Scalise explained how the Environmental Protection Agency has hampered cleanup efforts by continuing to enforce regulations that require that water returned to the ocean from skimming vessels contain virtually no oil (the returned water must be 99.9985% pure). Letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, the EPA has so far refused to recognize that we are in the midst of a disaster and waive the regulation.

Perhaps most clear was the feeling among many local officials that the federal government is not doing its part to allow them to seek out and implement solutions.

Read more from our ’Live from the Gulf ’ blog series here, as well as research on the oil spill here, brought to you by our team of energy, environment, homeland security and response experts on the ground.