I’ve been watching the reports out of the Gulf (Louisiana, Mississippi), listening to fisherman and oystermen who somehow managed to survive Hurricane Katrina, only to face the worst man-made environmental catastrophe yet. It brings tears to my eyes, hearing them say how they never thought this could happen. Hell, BP has said the same thing and that makes me angry.
The Feds want to expand drilling as did the State of Florida, that is until Governor Crist decided it wasn’t really in our best interests. I’m glad he’s left the Republican Party for his run for the Senate. He is truly an Independent after all. And we need more like him. At least US Senate candidate Kendrick Meek is also against more offshore drilling. Who among the Gubernatorial candidates is also against such drilling. I just discovered (in a Miami Herald article) that the State Legislature was depending on those profitable oil leases to “fill a $6 billion budget hole expected next year.” Now it looks like the State is caught between a rock and a hard (if not sticky & oily) place.
In a recent interview with Wolf Blitzer, on the Situation Room, Meek said, “I’ve been consistent as relates to being against offshore drilling in Florida. I can’t say that by every candidate in the race. It was news flash as of two days ago that the governor switched his position once again on offshore oil drilling, and it’s important. There’s not one Chamber of Commerce along the Gulf Coast area, either be a Republican or Democratic county or what have you, they’re saying that they want offshore oil drilling. What has happened now in the gulf is the perfect example that can wreck Florida’s tourism economy, and we’ll continue to work with the administration on that issue.”
Crist made the right move and declared a state of emergency in the state’s panhandle ahead of a possible disaster.
“The oil slick is generally moving in a northerly direction and threatens Florida’s coast,” the executive order reads. “Oil continues to spill from the well as all efforts to stop the discharge have failed and may not succeed for an extended period of time.” (washingtonindependent.com). The warning applies to the counties of Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay and Gulf.
Boaters and Marine Industry Will Be Affected
Florida has the highest number of registered recreational watercraft in the United States (988,652) and is a major recreational boating destination for non-state residents, with an estimated 350,000 non-registered boats actively using Florida’s waters in 2006. Recreational boating and its associated marine industry sectors, including manufacturing, sales, dockage facilities and marinas, and repair businesses generate a significant amount of economic activity. A study conducted for the Marine Industry Association of Florida estimated that the state’s marine industry had an economic impact of $18.4 billion and employed more than 220,000 Floridians in 2005.(Source: Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability an office of the Florida Legislature).
Here’s a link to an excellent animated image of the movement of the oil and placement of booms in the Gulf.http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/oil-spill-map.htm
Who Will See The Worst Of It?
A University of Florida professor and oceanographic expert says he believes the east coast of Florida might see the worst of the impact of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
In an article by Joe Callahan on www.gainesville.com, “…state health officials say the chemical-like smell reported to be wafting occasionally across parts of the state, including Alachua and Marion counties, has not been definitively linked to the oil spill but that they continue to monitor the reports.
Y. Peter Sheng, coastal and oceanographic engineer at UF, said the six-day ocean current models released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reveal that the western coast of Florida, from the Big Bend to Cedar Key, could be spared.
The oil slick that’s growing south of the Louisiana coast could get caught in what’s called the “Loop Current,” which flows through the Florida Straits and becomes the Gulf Stream.
The Gulf Stream runs up the eastern coast of Florida. Sheng said he believes it is entirely possible, even probable, that this will happen, thus impacting the beaches from Miami to Jacksonville. The Loop Current is about 35 miles south of the slick, which currently is 125 miles wide and 40 miles long.
“I would say the east coast of Florida has the higher probability (of being impacted by the oil spill),” said Sheng, adding his opinion is based on NOAA’s ocean current forecast and wind direction.
Sheng said until the slick gets to shallow water, wind will not greatly impact the oil slick’s movement.
Lauren McKeague, with the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said state officials are treating the encroaching spill as they would a hurricane and will continue monitoring its growth over the weekend.
Meanwhile, with officials predicting possible landfall of oil on beaches in northwestern Florida by Monday, NOAA has contacted UF Sea Grant agents in Panama City to determine how they can assist with the impending disaster.
Steve Theberge, one of the agents contacted, said NOAA hasn’t given them marching orders yet but is determining who can help and what their capabilities are, looking for everything from boat operators to those who can clean animals covered in oil.”
It’s possible that we will all have to get involved; to save our boats, to save our endangered wildlife, to save our beaches and to save our precious coastline.
In order to protect boats, the Boat Owners Association of the United States suggests:
- If a marina or boat club puts oil containment booms in place, do not attempt to cross the booms with a boat. This will only spread the oil and damage the booms or possibly the vessel’s running gear.
- If there is oil in the marina, refrain from running engines or other devices that have seawater intakes such as air conditioners or refrigerators.
- Hauling out the boat will prevent damage, but it is unclear if these costs will be reimbursed by BP.
- If the spill is sighted coming toward the marina or is already there, call the BP Community Information Hotline at 866-448-5816 to report it.
- If your boat comes in contact with the oil, call your insurance company to file a claim. Uninsured boaters can call the BP Hotline at 800-440-0858 to file a claim.
- Damage to a BoatUS-insured vessel caused by the oil is covered. BoatUS members can call 800-937-1937 to file a claim.
Has the Oil spill affected you or your boat? Let me know by leaving a comment.