With the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig off the coast of Louisiana on April 20, 2010, the BP oil spill has become one of the most devastating oil spills that have occurred in the United States. Thousands of families along the Gulf Coast relying on natural resources for income and employment have been immensely affected by the oil spill. With 47% of the Louisiana population living on the coast and anywhere from 12,000 to 19,000 barrels of oil spilling into the gulf each day, major industries such as fishing, agriculture, and tourism have declined dramatically. The loss of these industries could be felt for years until the coast is fully restored.
NETWORK is concerned about both short-term and long-term effects of the oil spill. Immediate needs are apparent among workers in the Gulf Coast region. In 2008, the fishing and other coastal industries in Louisiana brought in $2.4 billion in revenue. Millions of jobs have been affected in the region, especially self-employed workers and small businesses. These workers are experiencing immediate economic hardships as they rely on seasonal industries for their basic source of income. Workers affected by this disaster need immediate financial relief, often achieved from claims filed with BP. Ensuring that the claims process is effective and efficient must be a priority.
Long-term effects of the oil spill are potentially disastrous; NETWORK is working to enact policies that safeguard the environment and invest in restoration and protection of the coast. Preserving the natural coastal environment is crucial for the security of future generations on the coast. NETWORK especially supports the Gulf Coast Civil Works Act, which will rebuild public infrastructure and restore natural marshes and wetlands while simultaneously creating “green” jobs, employing energy efficient practices, boosting the economy, and engaging the community.
NPR and the fishing industry: