Kevin Costner's Oil Spill Heroism

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It was Water World meets D.C

. Sitting among doctors and scientists, actor Kevin Costner testified to a House subcommittee on the oil spill recovery Wednesday. But you couldn't fault him for not being self-aware. "There's been some question as to why I'm here," said the Field of Dreams star. "It's not because I heard a voice in a cornfield."

From there he proposed a partial solution to the mounds of sludge and oil washing up on the Gulf coast: a device that removes oil from the water. This isn't just some hair-brained proposal. Costner has the tool, which he's spent $20 million developing over the last 20 years. The machine purifies 210,000 gallons of oil-polluted water per day. However, government agencies have been loath to using it because of worries that it may do more harm than good—a regulatory hurdle that Costner decried on Wednesday. In any case, Costner's Capitol Hill sojourn has been greeted with a round of chuckles from the media. Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones, however, is rather sanguine about Costner's proposal:


Like many, I at first thought the idea of Kevin Costner as Gulf savior sounded absurd. But unlike BP or the federal government, he's actually been thinking about this issue for the past 15 years. Meanwhile, the government's response plans have remained essentially unchanged in the two decades since our last big oil spill. The two panels of independent scientists and government officials more than made that clear on Wednesday.

Costner, at least, may finally see his work validated after all these years: "If we're going to continue to see oil coming up on shore and the best we can do is hay and rubber boots," he told the committee, "maybe we can do better."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.