BP’s driving us all crazy…
And they don’t want to pay for it.
That’s the latest word from Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Alan Levine in a letter he penned to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
BP rejected the state’s first request for financial help.
Not surprisingly, everyone has their hands in BP’s pockets. With oil sloshing east to Florida’s coast and west to Texas’ shorelines, the number of people potentially impacted in some way – economically, emotionally … some way or another – continues to grow more rapidly than the oil pumping into the Gulf of Mexico.
Fortunately, the new top hat is in place. Testing is under way to see if the leak can be contained.
If only it were equally as simple to change hats and contain the impact on the lives of the men, women and children along the Gulf region that have had their lives upended by this man-made disaster.
BP is not Daddy Warbucks, a well-doer come to town with a pocketful of change. Nor is it Ebenezer Scrooge. Truth be told, no one faults BP for demanding accountability in the form of valid tax returns or financial disclosures before additional payments are handed out to those in the claims line.
Levine’s request is not outrageous considering the 84 days families have endured in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill.
Secretary Levine said counselor teams are finding “palpable increases in anxiety, depression, stress, grief, excessive drinking, earlier drinking and suicide ideation.”
It’s similar to letters penned by community leaders across the Gulf Coast region in 2005. Then, Hurricane Katrina was the culprit.
But you can’t hold Mother Nature accountable. BP can’t say the same.
“… these same families have already endured multiple natural disasters and have been forced to rebuild their lives, in some cases from nothing,” Levine wrote to Sebelius, “to reclaim their livelihoods and their very identity. Now, they face the continued uncertainty as this catastrophic technological disaster continues to wreak havoc in our communities.”
The Louisiana Spirit program, a valued service after Katrina, has been revived to provide crisis counseling and mental health outreach in communities hit hardest by the spill. The program received $1 million in seed money from a $25 million block grant allocated by BP. But the money is expected to only last through August.
Experts predict the number of people in crisis, however, will grow … especially if the deepwater leak isn’t soon stopped.
The $10 million Levine is asking BP to pay would extend the program for seven months, double the number of crisis counselors and pay for medication for about 2,000 Louisiana citizens.
As has been proven after the Exxon Valdez spill, the long-lasting psychological impact of the Deepwater Horizon spill will likely be experienced for years to come, particularly among “those who rely on the ecosystem for their livelihoods as do so many coastal Louisiana families,” as Levine wrote.
“Time is simply not a luxury our families have,” he continued. “Still, we wait.”
Levine’s plea for help to those most impacted over the past 87 days is a battle cry we should all adopt.
We’re not asking BP to analyze the core of our psyche. We are insisting the company address the needs of those who’ve seen their world rocked at the hands of an oil industry giant. The $10 million bill is but a pittance in comparison to the billions the company has earned off the very shores that have now been declared off limits to the people who live and thrive there.