This week over 11,000 people flocked to the Cajundome in Lafayette, Louisiana to send a simple but important message to Washington: give us our way of life back. Lift the moratorium, stop unnecessarily killing jobs, let us clean up the Gulf and get back to work. Representatives from the oil, seafood and tourism industries as well as local politicians and residents of the Gulf rallied by Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser’s words: “This moratorium will turn Louisiana into a state of bankrupt businesses.”
Louisiana’s state think tank, the Pelican Institute for Public Policy, covered the event and collected sentiments from parish presidents, Governor Bobby Jindal, industry workers and interested citizens, among others. The Jim Funk, president of the Louisiana Restaurant Association clarified any public misperceptions of unsafe seafood coming from the Gulf, knowing very well that one instance of contamination could further devastate the industry. He said, “In all the tests that are being been, there has not been one thing found that is dangerous to your health. I mean zero – absolutely none. There has been no impact… It’s safer than it’s ever been. It’s being tested more than it has ever been before. The only hang up right now is the [Food and Drug Administration].”
One might think the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent oil spill would significantly mar the relationship between the fishers and drillers. But the reality is just the opposite is true; the spill has strengthened the bond between the oil and seafood industry and the shrimpers and fishers have been vocally opposing the offshore drilling ban. If the oil industry goes, so does the Gulf’s economy. In fact, many of the workers in the oil industry also spent part of their time fishing or collecting shrimp and oysters. It’s this symbiotic relationship that has the seafood industry on the front line arguing against the Obama administration’s decision.
We certainly should not dismiss the economic and environmental challenge ahead, even after the well is capped, nor should we dismiss the eleven workers who lost their lives. But the moratorium adds economic insult to injury says National Ocean Industries Association board member Dave Welch. Speaking about the moratorium Welch said, “Now another tragedy has been added to the mix with the new deepwater drilling moratorium that further threatens the economic stability of a region already on its knees.”