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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Comments on Oil Spill & Moratorium

The Deepwater Horizon spill has been a disaster of unprecedented scope that, clearly, no one was prepared for — a massive fire with fatalities, a search and rescue mission followed by a sinking and subsequent massive oil spill. This has been a tragic incident, with major implications for the environment, people, and economy of the Gulf Coast.  It will be studied for decades by management and safety professionals to prevent such things from happening in the future. 

In light of this spill, I would like to take this opportunity to reinforce Canal Barge Company’s commitment to doing business right — we will never sacrifice safety for expediency or a quick buck.

There have also clearly been problems with the spill response. At CBC, we firmly believe in early and accurate incident reporting, and an emergency response effort that can be adaptable to large-scale incidents. We recognize that it is always better to overreact and then pull back, rather than to under-react and hope for the best.

New laws and regulations will be forthcoming as a result of the spill and the response — some that are necessary and appropriate, and some that are the result of regulatory overkill.  For example, our industry, which had no connection whatsoever to the Deepwater Horizon incident, is now threatened with attacks on the Jones Act and other laws that govern our domestic maritime industry. We also face increased insurance requirements for oil spills from our vessels, despite the fact that current limits are more than adequate for the quantities and material we carry. Needless to say, we will engage in the debate and push for smarter laws and regulations and against rules that do not make good sense for business or for the safety and protection of people or the environment.

Many of us live in the Gulf region and are no doubt concerned about the impact of this spill on our livelihoods and way of life. These concerns are legitimate, and it is far too early to tell what the long-term environmental impact will be on the Gulf of Mexico and our communities. We can each do our part to support cleanup efforts.

Unfortunately, President Obama has made our region’s recovery more difficult by his decision to put a 6-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf. I believe that this is wrong path because it will harm one of the major economic drivers of the Gulf region for the short- and long-term without a clear improvement in safety. It is insightful that the moratorium was implemented against the advice of our government’s own safety experts. If you are so inclined, please take the time to contact your elected officials to voice your concerns on this issue. Click here for the contact information of your Congressional delegation.

As you know, our entire way of life is built on productive relationships among our economic, recreational and cultural needs along the Gulf Coast. We have sacrificed much and contributed much for the benefit of our fellow Americans. Our region should be more fairly compensated in the future through increased royalties that can then be used to restore the wetlands and to better protect America’s energy infrastructure along the Gulf Coast.

I want to assure you that CBC’s operation is thus far largely unaffected by the oil spill and that we are doing our part to respond to this unfortunate situation. As a member of the New Orleans Business Council, I am working with a coalition to seek to overturn or modify President Obama’s moratorium, as well as to seek funding to assist our tourism economy. Additionally, CBC has assisted in the oil spill response by providing marine equipment and advice to the Incident Command team. CBC representatives will also play a role on the State of Louisiana’s Master Plan for Coastal Restoration that is being put in place as a result of the Deepwater Horizon spill and the country’s renewed understanding of our area’s national significance.

Canal Barge Company’s response to the oil spill is consistent with our Business Philosophy of safe and environmentally-responsible operations, as well as being engaged in a positive way in community and industry affairs.

Thank you for your time and attention.