Today, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators representing Gulf Coast states introduced a Senate resolution encouraging British Petroleum (BP) to consider local businesses for products or services related to the ongoing efforts associated with the Gulf oil spill.
U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.), along with Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), George LeMieux (R-Fla.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), and David Vitter (R-La.), introduced the resolution citing the importance for BP to work with local communities to help ease the economic and environmental impacts of the oil spill on the people of the Gulf Coast.
Although the complete economic impact on the Gulf Coast economy is far from being determined, the workforce in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Texas has been hit severely as a result of the oil spill. Over $175 million in claims have been paid to date, and that number is expected to rise. Resources such as fishing, tourism, shipping, and energy exploration in the Gulf generally account for over $200 billion in economic activity each year.
"Not only has the BP oil spill crippled the economy of the coast, but it also has devastated the way of life for so many of those who call the Gulf home," said Wicker, the lead Republican on the Senate resolution. "BP has spent millions of dollars on a public relations campaign assuring Americans that it will "get it right' and help restore the damage it has caused in the Gulf. One way BP can honor its pledge is by working with the local communities and considering all of the resources that local businesses have to offer."
"Gulf Coast businesses that are struggling to stay afloat need a lifeline," said Landrieu, the lead Democrat on the Senate Resolution. "One way BP can help is to ensure that it is tapping the expertise, innovation and ingenuity of Louisiana businesses of all sizes that stand ready to assist the cleanup and recovery effort. It is clear that our people want to be hard at work, contributing their goods and services to help save our coast, and a way of life that is being threatened by this terrible disaster."
"This Senate resolution expresses a belief that BP should adhere to a "good neighbor' policy. This means it should first look to utilize Gulf Coast residents and resources as it carries out what will be an extensive, multi-year ecological and economic recovery operation," Cochran said.
"The oil spill and subsequent moratorium on deepwater drilling has devastated the Gulf Coast's livelihood," added Cornyn. "It is imperative that BP use local products and services whenever possible in the recovery effort. This tragedy will be felt by Gulf residents for decades to come and it is critical that BP do all they can to mitigate its effects on those who call this region home."
"As well as the environmental devastation, Gulf Coast communities face serious economic hardships as a result of the oil spill. Much of the Gulf Coast workforce has been put on hold by this spill, and jobs will be threatened further by the administration's new and more restrictive drilling moratorium. One way we can lessen the economic damage of this disaster is to ensure that local businesses can play an active role in the cleanup," said Hutchison.
"The people most harmed by this disaster are the most anxious to help. The families living on the Gulf depend on its health for their way of life," said LeMieux. "By reaching out to local providers of assistance first, BP will help take the edge off the economic disaster this spill has caused. Whether it is fishermen, hoteliers, restaurateurs, or the like, they should be on BP's speed dial to assist in the ongoing cleanup effort."
"This is important because the local folks know their communities and they're the ones who know best how to repair the damage done by the BP spill," added Nelson.
"BP has promised to work until every bit of the oil is removed from the Gulf Coast. It makes senses that Gulf Coast citizens--the people most harmed by this disaster and most knowledgeable of the local area--should be hired to accomplish that goal," said Sessions. "No one is more motivated to work aggressively to clean and restore Alabama's magnificent Gulf Coast than the fishermen, boat operators, and small business owners that live in the area. Recovery jobs in Alabama should go first to Alabamians who have lost their jobs as a result of this disaster. Following this commonsense policy whenever possible will expedite the recovery and mitigate some of the serious economic consequences that this disaster has caused."
"The oil spill has affected the lives of everyone on the Gulf Coast," said Shelby. "BP has an opportunity to help communities mitigate the disastrous effects of the oil spill by supporting Gulf Coast products, businesses, and organizations. Alabamians who have lost their jobs because of this disaster are ready to work and BP must ensure that jobs related to the cleanup effort go to Gulf Coast workers first."
"Since the beginning, folks along the Gulf Coast haven't wanted a handout -- they've wanted a job, an active role in helping to protect and clean up the coast. I strongly encourage BP to utilize the people who live and work along the coast as well as local resources in their continued efforts to solve this crisis and bring relief to our economy that has been devastated by the spill," said Vitter.
The bipartisan delegation of senators representing the Gulf Coast states said that they will push for immediate passage of the resolution.