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“If you wait on BP, it’ll be like Louisiana,” said James Hinton, volunteer fire chief of Magnolia Springs, Alabama (pop. 675). “They had a month to protect the marshes. The Bible says the good Lord made the world in seven days. I’m not going to risk what happened in Louisiana happening here.”

In early May, Hinton called a town meeting and set out to protect Weeks Bay from the BP oil spill. John Leland of the New York Times, reporting on Hinton and his maverick environmental protection plan, writes that this estuary off Mobile Bay “supports 19 federally protected species, including bald eagles and wood storks.”

Local volunteers under Hinton’s direction have superseded the “unified command” officially charged with the Gulf cleanup, by setting a line of barges across the mouth of the bay and laying five strands of boom behind it.

“We’re not going to wait for BP,” Charles Houser, Magnolia Springs mayor, told the Times. “The lesson we learned from Louisiana is to act, not wait. We’ll ask for forgiveness later.”

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