A Letter From the Gulf...
My college buddy Tom now lives and works in Alabama--the Mobile area, to be precise. He's had a front-row seat for recent hurricanes and now has a cat-bird's spot for still another tragedy: the BP oil spill.
Tom and I still trade e-mails, usually centered on our changing industries (he's in the media, too), our growing children and our receding hairlines. His most recent missive, though, is more current-events driven.
"What a mess! As if the Gulf Coast didn't have enough to overcome the past several years, this summer's tourism season was going to be the BIG BOOST the local economies needed. Now it's a pretty sad situation. I went on a call to Gulf Shores yesterday and the oil smell was really strong, but not as noticeable today. Tempers are running very hot with the daily BP B-S p.r. press conferences.
Locals want to get out and take action from Louisiana to Florida but are told to sit on their hands while BP calls the shots. In Louisiana local fishermen want to get out and help with their local knowledge and boats, but BP has brought in outsiders in little flat boats to do whatever it is they're doing. Yesterday a reporter from the Foley office (where I am) went to the beach and watched a "clean-up crew" slowly drag a few rakes for 15 minutes, then take a 15 minute break in the shade to watch girls. Then they left for lunch at 10:45 and didn't return until after 1PM and started their whole 15 minute on, 15 minute off routine all over again. He got it all on camera and confronted the crew chief, who looked like he was all of about 23 years old. The guy gave him some real B-S answers on camera…and by that night-he was fired.
But it's symptomatic of the whole situation and makes us all feel like the Gulf Coast is nothing but a bunch of throw-away states…as long as we continue to provide oil for the east and west coasts we're ok. My biggest fear is that if this stuff gets deep into the estuaries and marshes we can say good-bye to shrimp, oysters and other seafood for years, maybe decades. What's more ironic is that Obama's oil moratorium is just as fatal a blow to folks, especially in Louisiana, as the spill is. On the one hand the fishing industry is crippled and on the other the thousands (about 150,000 to be exact) who work in the oil industry are also being put out of work. A lot of people are going to lose everything before this is said and done. And BP will drag it out as long as they can.