Congressman Tim Griffin (AR-02) issued the following statement after learning that ExxonMobil has reversed its decision to terminate prematurely housing assistance for the Mayflower oil spill victims:
"After personally speaking with a number of impacted residents, I urged ExxonMobil to reverse its decision to terminate prematurely housing assistance for the Mayflower victims -- families who have had their lives turned upside down and face difficult decisions on where they want to live. Exxon officials have informed me that they are reversing course, have cancelled the automatic September 1, 2013 assistance cutoff, and pledge to work to meet the individual needs of the affected families, in response to my request yesterday. These victims didn't ask for this spill, and I will continue to do all that I can to make sure they're made whole."
Yesterday, Rep. Griffin sent a letter to Gary Pruessing, president of the ExxonMobil Pipeline Company, expressing his anger over the company's decision to terminate the housing allowance after September 1, 2013. In the letter, Griffin called on Exxon to "step up and fulfill its duty" to the impacted residents.
Since the March 29 oil spill, Rep. Griffin has toured the cleanup site many times (most recently last week), has remained in constant contact with residents and representatives of the Unified Command, and has called for relocating the Pegasus pipeline away from Lake Maumelle.
Last week, Griffin introduced H.R. 2724, which will prevent compensation provided to Mayflower residents from being taxable by classifying it as "a qualified disaster relief payment" under current law. This would protect the impacted families from facing thousands of dollars in additional taxes. In a presidentially-declared disaster, such as those that occurred in Oklahoma and New Jersey, any benefits provided would automatically be tax-exempt.