The April 20, 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico devastated the Gulf economy, which, more than a year later, has yet to fully recover from the disaster. In en effort to explore relief efforts and “lessons learned” from the spill, the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship will hold a field hearing in Pensacola, FL, on Monday.
Witnesses for the hearing will include Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Adam Putnam, Pensacola Chamber of Commerce Chairman Collier Merrill, and others involved in the local economy.
The hearing was requested by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL, who said that it would be “a valuable opportunity to hear from important small-business owners about what we can be doing in Washington to help businesses and families get back on their feet.”
“It’s important to me that the Senate not forget about the work that remains to be done in helping the Gulf Coast region recover from the oil spill,” Rubio added.
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-LA, who chairs the committee said she “share’s [Rubio’s] concern about the short-term and long-term recovery needs in the Gulf Coast region.”
It remains to be seen whether the committee will address the damage to the Gulf economy wrought by the Obama administration’s “permatorium” on new Gulf oil drilling permits. Numerous residents of the area have spoken out against what they see as an unnecessary and onerous restriction on the area’s already struggling economy.
On the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon spill, the Heritage Foundation documented the concerns of a number of Gulf residents who insisted that “all of the operators in the Gulf [don’t] need to be shut down because there was a mistake on one rig,” as New Orleans native, and owner of oilfield equipment company R&D Enterprises, Leslie Bertucci put it. “To me it’s the most irresponsible decision that could have possibly been made,” she added.
“My message for President Obama,” Burtucci said, “is that I would love for him to come to R&D Enterprises in Harvey, La., and meet us and see us and talk to our employees and get a real, true understanding of the reality of what is really happening because of this moratorium that shouldn’t be in place in the first place.”
The administration’s campaign against Gulf oil drilling in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill caught the ire of Gulf-area lawmakers of both parties, who recognized the tremendous damage it would do to one of the region’s primary economic drivers.
In February, Sen. Landrieu blasted the Obama administration for its “de facto moratorium” on drilling, after the major Gulf oil company Seahawk Drilling announced that it would cease operations in the Gulf. “How many more rigs have to leave and how many more businesses have to close,” Landrieu asked, “before [the Obama administration] realizes the havoc the de facto moratorium is wrecking on the Gulf coast?”
Though that question may not be answered during Monday’s hearing, we are likely to get a better idea of the economic troubles the Gulf economy continues to endure, the extent of the damage done by the administration’s “de facto moratorium,” and measures that can be taken to alleviate the region’s continuing hardships.