Wednesday, June 4, 2010
Written by Walter Pierce
Louisiana got BP’d by oil. Can the relationship withstand the stress?
This is far from over — economically, environmentally and culturally.
There are no raggedy refugees or sunken cities. No looting or roaming vigilantes. No apocalyptic mayhem for the hovering television camera. Just the tide, rising and falling in the marsh and lapping at the beach. And tens of millions of gallons of crude oil still out there.
Now it’s hurricane season, which may not be a bad thing.
Time will tell whether the Deepwater Horizon disaster ascends to the very high bar set by the 2005 assault from the tropics. But it is a terror nonetheless.
Two thousand five was a calamity, but it was a wrenching, cacophonous wreck of howling wind and bleating babies. A made-for-television tragedy. This oil spill is a cancer — slow, silent, creeping, black death. It lurked off the coast for a month before coming ashore, like an axis army massing on the border. It is anthropomorphic now, a shape-shifting entity with a dark heart releasing its toxins in metered torture.
Astonishingly, it took a month before BP transmogrified into a verb, as in, “You really BP’d that up!” And it deserves to get traction in its new grammatical life. Most indications are that BP threw precaution to the wind, underplayed the magnitude of the crisis and has been left-footed in its reaction, calculating liability every slippery step of the way.
Our oyster beds will continue to get poisoned, the marshes where shrimp spawn polluted. Fleets remain idle at the dock. It isn’t Chicken Little hyperbole to anticipate Louisiana’s seafood industry hobbled for the next two to five years, or to wonder how the thousands of people who earn their living in it and from it will ride it out.
It’s not just the people who fish, many of them southeast Asians who traded the upheaval of war 35 years ago for an eternity of tropical and industrial threats. It’s the suppliers, the truckers, the warehouse workers, the net makers and net menders, the dishwashers and waitresses, the charter operators, the shuckers and boat mechanics, the mom and pop businesses that sink or swim with the coastal economy. Will BP’s liability extend to them, and to what extent?
It’s the oystermen in this week’s cover story, the Collins family; stewards of Caminada Bay, a chief source for Acadiana’s restaurants. For them, a two- or three-year hiatus from harvesting could be enough to break a chain five generations long. Five generations, choked by the very thing that has been the wellspring of Louisiana’s tenuous prosperity.
And we run the risk of conflating deepwater drilling with drilling period, and that could have an even more profound effect on South Louisiana. Within days of the explosion, share prices fell as investors backed away from the independent operators, the smaller companies that explore, drill and extract oil and gas in shallow waters. The companies that are a crucial strand in the web of explorers, drillers and suppliers employing so many of us here in Acadiana. The companies that are not BP or ExxonMobil.
If the liability becomes too great, the insurance costs too high, many of the independents could be driven out of business. BP will not be liable for that catastrophe.
The complex relationship between our state and the oil industry is being put to a stress test. Oil has padded our pockets, endowed our universities and patronized our arts. And it has sliced our coastline to ribbons and blackened our beaches and marshes.
So we ask ourselves: Is getting BP’d acceptable every 20 years? Every 50? Or is it simply unacceptable?
It wouldn’t be a first, however, as the Chamber has thrown money behind Landrieu before.
The Democratic incumbent, seeking her fourth term in office, is a strong supporter of the Export-Import Bank, which helps finance exports of U.S. companies.
Summertime floral with panache
Three bedroom St. Martinville traditional or three bedroom Lafayette contemporary cottage
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The world is a politically tense place these days with hot spots ranging from the Middle East to Ukraine. In Louisiana and Mississippi, where the political chessboard tends to be a lot less threatening and at times entertaining, this election season is living up to expectations.
As this year’s budget process slogs forward and the Lafayette Parish School Board maintains its hard-headed stance against using any of its more than $60 million reserve fund, another slate of critical programs have rolled through the chopping block, despite the ramifications for the school system.
Meat, cheese and veggies piled high on Texas toast
American companies export smog; UN calls for cease-fire in Gaza; fist bump keeps germ transfer down and more national and international news for Monday, July 28, 2014.
Monday's Blogs from the Bog!
Louisiana has joined nine other states in support of Indiana’s appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that the Hoosier State’s ban on sam-sex marriage violates the Constitution.
The eclectic vibe of summer
Three bedroom River Ranch cottage or four bedroom Youngsville traditional home
The parent of Investar Bank says its second-quarter earnings fell to $1.1 million or 26 cents a share from $1.7 million of 44 cents a share in the same period a year ago.
1,554 rigs were exploring for oil and 315 for gas. Two were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago there were 1,770 active rigs.
The Saints are being cautious in an effort to minimize risk of re-injury.
Most personal auto insurance policies exclude coverage when people charge money to drive others in their personal vehicles.
In this letter to the editor, Lafayette Parish School Board member Shelton Cobb (the board's former president) weighs in on the difficulty behind this year's budget process, calling out a number of his fellow board members over their inability to drop their power struggle with the superintendent and make the interests of the students a top priority.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
LSU Health Sciences Center says people with a common, hard-to-treat kind of lung cancer can join a new national trial to test drugs faster.
As New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis spoke about the opening of training camp, steep, tree-covered mountains were in full view behind them.
The family of fallen cyclist Lon Lomas is speaking out after the release this week of the man charged with his death.
"The solutions are obvious: undo consolidation, or amend the charter to make this hybrid attempt at a new form of government work better."
A refreshing twist at a Lafayette institution comes served with a black bean salad stuffed avocado
Louisiana's 21 casinos took in $203.5 million statewide in June, edging up one-half of a percentage point from a year earlier.
Three bedroom Sunset Victorian or three bedroom Opelousas Acadian home
Louisiana designer commissioned for NYC Awards gift
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is considering whether to get involved in a lawsuit against Gov. Bobby Jindal for his attempts to undermine use of the Common Core education standards in Louisiana's public schools.
Business First Bank has announced plans for a Baton Rouge market expansion through a merger deal with American Gateway Financial Corp.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.