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Oil Spill Proves Tragic For Local Business, But Politicians Think Industry Deserves A Break

Oil Spill Proves Tragic For Local Business, But Politicians Think Industry Deserves A Break

For the past few days, executives from BP, Transocean and Halliburton have been involved in congressional hearings regarding their responsibility in the Gulf oil spill that claimed 11 lives, injured several others, and is currently releasing thousands of barrels of oil into the deep sea every day.

Despite accepting all the “liability, blame, and fault” for the disaster, all three companies have engaged in a fair amount of corporate finger pointing, all trying to position themselves to absorb as little of the cost as possible.

But these companies have profit margins in the billions of dollars every year, and no matter how much they have to pay to clean-up their mess, it will be residents and small business owners in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida that must deal with the true economic consequences of this disaster.

On May 2nd, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced a minimum ten-day ban on all recreational and commercial fishing in federal waters most affected by the BP oil spill, largely between Louisiana state waters at the mouth of the Mississippi River to waters off Florida’s Pensacola Bay.

That was 11 days ago.

In 2008, eastern Florida and the Gulf region’s commercial fishing industry generated more than $10.5 billion in sales, more than $5.6 billion in income, and supported more than 200,000 jobs in 2008 (NRDC).

It’s likely that fishing will remain restricted until the EPA and USDA can get a handle what contaminants have been absorbed by fish and shrimp in the area.

Soon, restaurants and grocery stores around the country will start feeling the squeeze as seafood prices are likely to increase dramatically. The result will probably be empty tables and a lack of shrimp on the barbee.

The oil spill is taking an economic toll on hotel and tourism business in the Gulf as well.

Fishing tournaments that usually bring contestants and spectators from all oer the country are being postponed and those who operate charter boats and vacation cabins have found many of their bookings being canceled.

Although some hotels have seen increased business because of oil crews and reporters working in the area, many are watching the cancelled reservations pile up, as people are reluctant to spend their vacation lounging by an oil slick.

For the many that oppose offshore drilling, these economic impacts magnify the need for BP and the others involved to admit their mistakes and make financial and ecological restitution for what they’ve done.

Predictably, there are some big oil politicians that beg to differ.

On Thursday, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) asked the Senate for unanimous consent to pass his much-discussed bill to raise the liability ceiling — from $75 million to $10 billion – on economic damages resulting from an oil spill.

Why should oil companies get to say “enough is enough” to how much they must pay to clean up a mess that will affect the area for many years to come?

Despite representing a state who’s coastline is still struggling to recover from the Exxon Valdex spill of 1989, Sen. Lisa Murkowki (R-Alaska) blocked the motion on behalf of the oil industry.

Murkowski argued that a liability hike from $75 million to $10 billion “isn’t where we need to be right now.” Instead, she offered, “maybe we need to understand a little bit better as to how much we might need to look at raising the limit.”

Sorry Murkowski, but the 11 deceased rig workers aren’t ‘where they need to be’ right now- alive, healthy and with their families. The out-of-work fishermen, struggling hotel owners, chefs, restaurateurs, boat operators, and all the others that depend on these businesses to earn a living aren’t where they need to be either.

Of course, it was probably the $426,000 in campaign contributions Murkowski has received from from Big Oil during her years in office that put this concern for everyday Americans far from her mind.

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Find full Care2 Coverage of the Spill here.

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Image: Sediment samples are being collected to assess potential oil spill impacts on aquatic life near shore and are being analyzed for 29 chemicals that are components of oil.

Image Credit: Flickr - usepagov USEPA photo by Eric Vance

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152 comments

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2:27PM PDT on Aug 9, 2010

BP its the unique responsable of the desaster nad the need to pay for all.

2:34PM PDT on May 31, 2010

BP needs to be for everything!!!

10:41AM PDT on May 28, 2010

Must be punished too.

4:40AM PDT on May 27, 2010

So these criminally negligent corporates are only liable for their actions to the tune of $75million, despite the trillions they make in profits over the years?
That's truth, justice & the American way for ya!
Drown the scumbags in their toxic waste i say, and confiscate all of their assets, they are obviously not responsible enough to be allowed to control such resources.
And any who support them are guilty of being accessories!
The only way to deal with these scum-makers is to hold them personally and individually accountable.
Otherwi$e expect business as usual at the taxpayers expense while you and your children die from their toxic waste....

10:08AM PDT on May 25, 2010

worker safety is a key to world safety! Both the government and BP should pay, the government should have enacted stricter laws

12:22AM PDT on May 25, 2010

ALL involved should be held accountable for their actions. weather it is 1 company,2 or all 3. there is so much damage, most importantly to mother nature and all of her water inhabitants,to the water itself, and last but not least to the people who make their living on the water. stop finger pointing and repair the damage that should have started long ago.

2:42AM PDT on May 23, 2010

For all the people that feel sorry for the wildlife, birds and fish that are affected by the disastrous oil spill, yes you are right!~
Yet, howmany people are there that are solely dependant on what the sea dishes up, for their livelihoods.
Especially fishermen and even restaurants.
If you are the wife of a fisherman or the children of fishermen, what is going to happen to you all?
It is a trgedy that will live with us for a long, long time!
I sincerely hope that these people's compensation is enough to enable them to survive!
For the 1% that voted against the idea of making BP solely responsible for paying for their mistakes, they must be like Lisa Murkowki.
Evidently her pocket is lined enough and also the others of her ilk that are also part of the 1%

6:54PM PDT on May 20, 2010

Jade .. we are on the same page .. :) Humans are but fleas on the back of the Earth .. and Mother Nature has sent us a message .. "Keep on abusing me and you'll have a fight on your hands. You will lose!" A lot of young people seem to be recognizing this message .. but many more are needed. Step up to the plate, kids .. your inning is here !!

12:36PM PDT on May 20, 2010

BP can go kiss.....

5:40AM PDT on May 20, 2010

We are Killing the Planet with our greed and as Jade H. says the planet will rejuvenate itself, but it must erradicate the virus called the human race first and I am sure that it will.

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