Back in August, I expressed my concerns that once the BP Macondo oil well was capped and the spill became a past tense reference in the media that the needs of the Gulf Coast citizens impacted by the disaster would be “out of sight, out of mind.”
BP pledged to “make it right” and to date, many Gulf Coast residents see that as a hollow, unkept promise.
As there was in August, there remain some significant unresolved issues beyond the Gulf Coast’s long-term restoration.
The feds talked tough about punishing British Petroleum and seeing the protracted clean-up effort through. Former Mississippi governor and current Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has been charged with leading the federal effort toward the Gulf Coast’s long-term restoration.
• What about the environmental impact? The jury’s still out on that question big time.
• Is the Gulf Coast’s seafood really safe? The answer seems to be “yes,” but efforts to put that message before the public have been slack.
• What about the moratorium on offshore drilling? The Obama administration has pulled a fast one on the Gulf states on this one.
• First Katrina, then the recession, then the oil spill. What’s the psychological impact on Mississippi Gulf Coast residents at a time when Mississippi is cutting back on mental health care?
Mental health professionals say the impact was devastating.
• How can state and local governments be assured of being made whole for lost tax revenues – and how long will that take? Nobody in government can or will answer that question.
• Will BP keep its commitment to fund university research into the oil spill’s impact and fund it with Gulf Coast universities? BP is saying all the right things, but the trust factor by the researchers is small.
• What’s the plan to replace the income of those whose jobs have been obliterated by the spill? To date, there doesn’t appear to be one.
• The fears of those critical problems being out of sight, out of mind from the national consciousness after the gusher was plugged were real and justified.
Even more disturbing are reports that BP’s compensation fund for Gulf oil spill victims has made a final settlement payment to just one of some 91,000 people and businesses waiting for checks – and that the $10 million payout in question went to a company after BP intervened on its behalf.
The feeling of many waiting on BP claims to be paid by Kenneth Feinberg is that they indeed already have been forgotten. State officials can expect to hear from those folks in the 2011 statewide elections.
Sid Salter is Perspective editor at The Clarion-Ledger. Contact him at (601) 961-7084 or e-mail email@example.com.