Barbour and Mabus discuss the oil spill
1. BP is responsible for funding the plan to restore the Gulf Coast to its pre-spill condition.
2. The plan will be formulated by Coast stakeholders and not the federal government.
3. Right now, there is no plan.
“I don’t have the answers now,” Mabus said. “I shouldn’t have the answers now.”
In an effort to perhaps glean some answers, Mabus has spent the past several days in Louisiana and is headed today to Mississippi and Alabama before traveling to Florida.
He will meet with government officials, business owners, residents, basically everybody who’s been affected by the Deepwater Horizon disaster that just started its 11th week.
Barbour made the point a couple of weeks ago that those most affected by the spill should develop an environmental and economic recovery plan, while the federal government merely implemented it, instead of the other way around. Mabus said today he was on board with that concept.
“It’s really important this be a bottom-up process and not vice versa. I understand people are worried, they’re scared, they’re mad about what’s happened, and they have every right to be.”
A good portion of the anger has been directed toward BP since oil started spewing into the Gulf of Mexico April 21. The company’s CEO, Tony Hayward, hasn’t helped the situation with some of his comments.
Magnolia Marketplace asked Mabus how he would rate BP’s handling of the situation. He paused for about five seconds and said, “I think I’m going to rate my boss’ response to this. I think the president’s done a great job and has moved aggresively on this. I’m not in a position to rate (BP).”
Barbour had his own rating for the immediate efforts to remove at least some of the oil from Mississippi waters. In short, the state needs more skimming vessels than it has now, Barbour said, in what he called “a better execution” of the overall approach. “We had a significant amount of oil in Harrison County yesterday,” Barbour added, to go with the oil that washed up on the beaches of Jackson County earlier this week.
Barbour said more skimmers should arrive soon, now that an agreement has been struck with Sweden and a handful of other countries to provide assistance. About 4,000 people are working now to divert the oil from the state’s beaches and clean it up if and when it gets there.
Mabus flew over the spill yesterday.
“The scope of this thing is huge,” he said. “It’s bigger than anything we’ve ever faced, and not just a little bigger. It’s magnitudes bigger.”