Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–June 4, 2010. As Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Senator David Vitter and others call on President Obama to end the three-week old off-shore drilling moratorium, they are using local concerns about jobs in an effort to push for more drilling in the devastated region. The Gulf, like all of America, has been struggling in the face of job losses for months. Now, the BP Disaster has dealt a near-fatal blow to the area, wiping out local jobs in tourism and fishing. In the face of this disaster, the oil industry and its allies are now pushing to declare the Gulf a dead zone in which drilling is the only industry.
Statement of Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director
This is a hostage situation. The Gulf region, like the rest of the country, desperately needs jobs. Now, thousands in the Gulf are looking at an even more uncertain future as BP’s massive oil slick wipes out fishing and tourism livelihoods. The oil industry and allies would like to declare the Gulf a dead zone in which drilling is the only industry. We shouldn’t give up on the jobs the Gulf’s beaches and waters have supported for years.
Just how many more jobs should we let Big Oil destroy? Workers who depend on the Gulf have seen their livelihood disappear. How many more catastrophes would it take to convince Governor Jindal and Senator Vitter to stand up to Big Oil and support industries that will employ people without destroying their state?
Fishing and shrimping boats are now all either docked or in service to BP to clean up its mess. Tar balls are appearing on more beaches daily. The spill has affected an estimated 13,000 commercial licensed fishermen in Louisiana, not including deckhands and crew, according to the Louisiana State Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
Of course Gulf residents need jobs and their livelihoods back. But you just have to see a few oil-drenched birds or smell the sickening fumes to know that allowing more drilling in the region isn’t a healthy choice.
We can’t let BP and the oil industry hold the Gulf Coast hostage anymore. This was once a vibrant, stunningly beautiful area. Senator Vitter and Governor Jindal are now willing to give up on their own state and declare it a wasteland dedicated to drilling, and drilling only.
Roughly 46 percent of the Gulf economy, or over $100 billion a year, comes from tourism dollars. According to the Louisiana Workforce Commission, more than 12,000 Louisiana residents have filed unemployment claims since the blowout — and most of the filings are from folks displaced by the spreading oil. Meanwhile, the Louisiana Tourism & Cultural Department is reporting that the stalling of the fishing industry is affecting the $1.36 billion in tourism dollars that the state’s nine coastal parishes provide. Those nine parishes also make up 14,980 tourism-related jobs with a payroll of $238 million. And this is just in Louisiana.
Eleven rig workers died, the Gulf’s beaches and wetlands are closed and covered in oil, thousands are jobless, cleanup workers are getting sick, and more, and yet some want to pretend this isn’t happening and just start drilling for more oil. If this isn’t a sign of just how bad our oil addiction is, I don’t know what else could be.
Clean energy and clean transportation could create thousands of jobs without the risk of disasters like we are witnessing now. It’s time to end our oil addiction. President Obama should deliver a plan to move America beyond its dependence on oil over the next twenty years. We must stop letting the oil industry call the shots, and start embracing clean energy, which will boost our economy and create jobs.