Coast still struggling
As much as we want to welcome the departure of the oil polluting our Gulf, the news still brings little comfort to our region which is reeling from the loss of billions of critical summer tourist dollars. Nothing short of full, immediate compensation from BP will prevent many businesses from going under.
It is absolutely unacceptable that many South Alabama businesses have gotten little to no claims payments from BP after waiting for months.
Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft highlighted this problem during testimony last Thursday before the U.S. House Financial Services Committee. ìEvery business located on the island is directly affected by this disaster and has suffered loss. There are no exceptions. From the beginning of this disaster our community has been assured that we would be made whole by BP. This has not occurred,î Craft told the committee.
Gulf residents and business owners have lost patience with bureaucrats and BP claims payers who have no sense of urgency.
I recently met with Kenneth Feinberg, who was appointed by President Obama to lead the Gulf oil spill economic damage claims payments process. I made it clear to Mr. Feinberg that Gulf businesses, and our entire coastal economy, cannot survive the loss of summer tourism dollars without adequate and immediate compensation from the, as yet, unfunded BP escrow account.
If weíve learned anything from the tragic Deepwater Horizon accident, itís that Alabama and other Gulf states cannot face the threat of another such disaster as unprepared as we were this time. The federal and BP response was not enough. Alabama must have the resources to position coastal protection systems in advance of oil spill threats.
In response, I introduced legislation on July 29 calling on the federal government to speed up additional Gulf oil and gas lease royalty payments which are due the State of Alabama, but under current law will not be paid to our state until 2017. We need these funds now.