We’re sorry, too, Rep. Joe Barton

Texas Rep. Joe Barton, our apologies for the hot water you found yourself in last week during the congressional hearings into the BP oil spill.

We’re sorry you view the Obama administration’s demand that oil giant BP set up a $20 billion escrow fund to compensate victims of the biggest man-made environmental disaster in America’s history as a ‘shakedown.’

See, Rep. Burton, we mean you no disrespect when we tell your fellow Texans and the rest of the nation that we’ve been laid low by the events following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20. We get emotional not only about the 11 lives lost that day, but the subsequent damage to our beloved Gulf Coast region.

We feel, too, for the fishermen who’ve been forced to moor their boats as immeasurable gallons of oil continue to pollute our waterways. We really get emotional when you talk about the jobs lost within the industry and the years we could face repairing the image of Louisiana’s seafood.

And don’t get us started on the oil jobs, Rep. Barton. Houma-Terrebonne has long enjoyed an enviable unemployment rate – the nation’s lowest in recent months. But that will likely drastically change as we continue to deal with President Obama’s six-month moratorium on deepwater oil exploration.

Our local fishermen and seafood-related workers will be joined in the unemployment line by our offshore workers and the many service providers whose income depends on the success of the oil and gas industries.

Then there are the mom-and-pop operations, the non-profit groups who rely on the generous contributions of our seafood and oil-and-gas industries. The domino effect in this region could see our economic welfare completely toppled before the BP rig is once and for all plugged.

Sadly, Rep. Barton, dubbing the escrow account a shameful “shakedown” was inviting political fire from all sides. Perhaps you were simply viewing the situation through an oil-free waterway… something Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida are finding in short supply right now.

We understand you’ve since retracted the “shakedown” comment, thus saving your spot as the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

We’ll forgive you that comment, as Louisiana is a forgiving state. Recent events have forced us into that mindset.

See, we’re still sorry.

Sorry that oil and methane gas are still polluting our waterways. Sorry that a potential tropical depression is expected to reach the Gulf by next week. Sorry that federal flood insurance policies are unclear about the extent to which oil damage may be covered. Sorry that while families across the Gulf Coast region are left to worry about paying their bills, BP chief Tony Hayward was forced to spend the day on his yacht. And sorry President Obama and lawmakers such as yourself don’t seem to understand our plight.