Florida Sen. Bill Nelson Frustrated With Oil Spill Cleanup Control

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FLa., holds a map of the coast of Florida during a news conference Monday, June 26, 2006 in Coral Gables, Fla. Nelson said Monday that he would filibuster the offshore drilling bill if it comes to the Senate. AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) says there are "too many cooks in the kitchen" when it comes to who is in charge of cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico.

As gallons of oil in the Gulf of Mexico continue to creep closer to the Florida coast, Nelson said today on "Washington Unplugged" that he is becoming increasingly frustrated with the chaos surrounding the cleanup. He and members of the media were about to get a closer look at the spill when their plans were suddenly halted by a phone call, Nelson told moderator Bill Plante.

"We had it all set up for several network cameras to go with me with the Coast Guard to look at that patch of oil that was off of Pensacola," Nelson said. "And late the night before, suddenly the Department of Homeland Security calls and says 'you can't take the media.' Now that's just somebody not understanding what's going on and too many cooks in the kitchen, and one hand doesn't know what the other hand is doing."

Nelson wrote a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano outlining his complaint, but it's not just that issue that's got him flustered. According to Nelson, there is no clear person or organization in control of the cleanup effort. "We've got to have somebody in charge, and that's the problem," Nelson said.

The senator was told by some that the Coast Guard has 51 percent control of the operation and BP has the rest; by others that the Coast Guard has 55 percent control. "You can't run a major tragic operation... without somebody in charge," Nelson said. "You've got to have a chain of command."

Nelson suggested the U.S. Army might be the organization for the job and then offered a slight warning to the president. "The president has...done everything that he can do," Nelson said. "But right now what he's got to do is he's got to change this command and control or it's gonna come up and bite all of us."

"Washington Unplugged," CBSNews.com's exclusive daily politics Webshow, appears live on CBSNews.com each weekday at 12:30 p.m. ET. Click here to check out previous episodes.

  • Colin Daileda

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