Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Written by The Independent Staff

Opelousas attorney Patrick Morrow made a good case before a panel of federal judges in Boise, Idaho, recently to have lawsuits stemming from the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster consolidated and heard in Lafayette. Getting the case here would have no doubt been a boost to the local economy. Last week that federal panel decided to send the consolidated case to New Orleans instead, and while we’re sorry the Hub City is missing out, we’re nonetheless pleased that the case will be heard in Louisiana, which suffered the brunt of the disaster both ecologically from the spill and economically from the drilling moratorium. BP wanted the case to be heard in industry-friendly Houston. Justice will be better served in the Pelican State.

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Some government and industry people are insisting that upwards of 75 percent of the oil from the BP spill is gone — evaporated, dispersed, disintegrated — and there is evidence that once heavily oiled marshes in Barataria Bay are regenerating. That’s all great, if true, although we’ll hold the confetti until those mystery plumes are disproved. What isn’t gone, however, is a widespread perception that Gulf seafood isn’t safe, despite regular monitoring by federal and state agencies determining that it is. Making matters worse, analyses by university biologists from Loyola and Southern Miss are finding oil trapped under the shells of larval and immature blue crabs, a prime source for the diets of marine life higher up on the food chain, leading the scientists to speculate whether that oil — and dispersant as well — could move up the food chain to sport- and net fish and, ultimately, to us. When Independent food writer Mary Tutwiler says she’s sticking with the barbecue pit during the peak of crab season, you know something’s fishy.

We gnashed our teeth and rent our garments through much of the spring and summer as the residents of
Grand Isle watched their livelihoods drown in crude oil. They are a hard-working, salt-of-the-earth population
who didn’t deserve it. But as about 1,000 BP cleanup workers — most of them black and Hispanic — marched into the Gulf hamlet, we also found that this uniformly white fishing population was as bigoted and xenophobic as an Appalachian barn dance. According to a story in The Los Angeles Times, a proliferation of Confederate flags now flaps balefully in the Gulf breeze, and unsubstantiated rumors about a cleanup worker-fueled crime spree abound. The police chief says crime is actually down on the 7-mile strip of land compared to the same period last year. The Times story also finds that locals are charging several times the market rate renting their condos and camps to BP contractors. For them, the thrill is gone when the spill is gone.

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