Since the Deepwater Horizon well explosion on April 20, the long suffering people of Louisiana have had to deal with the worst environmental disaster in our nation’s history. The massive oil gusher has continued unabated for 46 days, while various attempts to stop the flow have failed. Common sense solutions to this crisis have been rejected and bureaucrats from the federal government and British Petroleum have made matters much worse.
Simple ideas such as building island barriers next to our coast have become embroiled in red tape and decisions have been delayed for weeks. Today, no barriers have been constructed and no effective mechanism is being deployed to stop the onslaught of oil. Instead of using oil tankers or even barges to siphon the oil from the Gulf, the two headed monster of British Petroleum and the federal government is relying on booms, toxic dispersants and skimmer ships.
As usual, there is confusion and mixed signals as this disaster unfolds. According to Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser there is no chain of command in dealing with this disaster. The real losers are the people of South Louisiana. The CEO of British Petroleum, Tony Hayward, complained in an interview that he wants “his life back,” but what about the families of the eleven rig workers who died and the thousands of fisherman in South Louisiana who are now unemployed? They are being impacted much more than any spoiled corporate executive.
Our seafood industry is now destroyed and many other jobs are threatened. This week the popular Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo was cancelled. There is no guarantee the event will return next year, especially with the long term impact of the of the oil spill a big question mark. Many small businesses in Grand Isle and throughout South Louisiana have been forced out of business because of this disaster.
At this point, the emphasis should be on how to help the state of Louisiana, not inflict further damage. Unfortunately, President Obama is declaring war on our economy by his short sighted decision to ban all offshore drilling for the next six months. This misguided effort will please radical environmentalists who hate our oil industry, but it will cost the hard working people of Louisiana dearly. At least 20,000 jobs will be lost because of this ban and many of them will never return to the state. The State of Louisiana will lose millions of dollars in revenue, thus making our budget crisis even worse.
The President wants to stop drilling until his blue ribbon commission presents their findings about the accident. However, as we wait for the investigation to conclude, Louisiana will suffer even more.
Governor Bobby Jindal was not pleased by the decision noting that it is coming at “one of the most challenging economic periods in decades.” The moratorium is in place for at least six months, but it may extend for a longer period. This will not only harm Louisiana’s economy, but it will lead to higher energy costs across the nation and further diminish our nation’s efforts to become energy self sufficient. According to Jindal, “The last thing we need is to enact public policies that will certainly destroy thousands of existing jobs while preventing the creation of thousands more.” Even Louisiana U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, a staunch Obama supporter, is opposed to an offshore drilling ban and is asking the President to “adjust this moratorium.”
Once again, a state that has provided so much to our nation is being unfairly targeted by the federal government. Our state does not deserve this type of treatment and we should not stand for it any longer. This disaster was at first greeted with indifference, then inaction and now inept decisions threaten our economy, our way of life and our future.
Jeff Crouere is the Host of “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. He is the Political Analyst for WGNO-TV ABC26 and a Columnist for selected publications. For more information, visit his web site at RingsidePolitics.com. E-mail him at [email protected]