In a snarky, tough-guy response to a question posed by the Today Show’s Matt Lauer last week, President Barack Obama smiled back as he told the host he listened closely to scientists and others to determine whose derriere needed kicking in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent oil spill.
In one swift motion, Obama halted deepwater drilling, essentially smacking the Gulf Coast region’s economy in its hindquarters.
“Mr. President, you were looking for someone’s butt to kick. You’re kicking ours,” said an emotional Charlotte Randolph, Lafourche Parish’s president, at last week’s press conference in Port Fourchon. Attended by parish officials across the region, Gov. Bobby Jindal and a number of workers whose incomes depend on offshore activity, the event was the latest effort to get Obama’s attention and, hopefully, hammer home the harm caused by his drilling moratorium.
All three Tri-parish governments – Lafourche, Terrebonne and St. Mary – unanimously approved resolutions begging the president to reconsider stopping oil exploration.
Likewise, area chambers, economic and civic organizations have echoed the sentiment.
“I think there is a misconception perhaps by the rest of the country that some people in south Louisiana wanted this moratorium to ensure that no other catastrophic events occurred, which is, of course, far from the case,” Dr. Glenn Manceaux, chairman of the Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce, told the Tri-Parish Times Monday. “Even the people who work in the seafood business don’t want this moratorium. … They know the devastation will will cause.”
Conservative estimates by Randolph and Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet put the local workforce whose jobs are directly tied to the Gulf of Mexico close to 80 percent – 20 percent fish, while 60 percent work in the oilfield.
And every mom-and-pop operation, every non-profit, every household stands to suffer. Even businesses far from the shoreline stand to lose much-needed revenue if the moratorium stands.
“When you consider how many tens of thousands of wells are drilled each year, and you have just one accident like this, you don’t just down an entire industry because of that,” Manceaux said. “Naturally, we want to ensure that increased safety is adhered to, and perhaps some additional monitoring takes place. But you don’t shut down the whole industry because of one isolated problem. You just don’t do that.”
Now’s the time for each of us to have a voice. Take a moment to contact your legislator, councilman or chamber and let Obama know your concerns. Join the grassroots campaign at www.houmachamber.com and complete the survey. The president continues to visit the Gulf Coast to show America stopping the BP spill is a top priority. With enough feedback from the people whose lives are most impacted by the leaking oil, maybe he will show south Louisiana his real concern by lifting the oil drilling moratorium once and for all.