Wednesday, July 07, 2010

African American-Owned Businesses Affected by Oil Spill in Gulf

The massive oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico is finally reaching the shores of the Gulf Coast, in what many have called the worst environmental disaster since the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska. Not only does it have the potential to threaten hundreds of species of fish, birds and other wildlife in the area, but more importantly the livelihood of many who make a living fishing in the nation's richest seafood region.

More than 200,000 gallons of oil a day have been spewing into the ocean since British Petroleum's Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank off the Louisiana coast last week. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano stated that BP, is "the responsible party" according to U.S. law and is "required to fund the cost of cleanup operations." In fact, in a letter sent last year to the Department of the Interior, the oil giant objected to what it described as "extensive, prescriptive regulations" proposed for more rigorous safety standards stating. "We believe [the] industry's current safety and environmental statistics demonstrate that the voluntary programs … continue to be very successful."

Last year, BP made more than 40 billion in profits yet paid no taxes in the United States.

This oil spil could not have come at a more significant time given that just a few weeks ago President Obama asked Congress
to lift a drilling ban in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, 125 miles from Florida beaches and called for new offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean from Delaware to central Florida.

President Barack Obama has pledged "every single available resource" to deal with the situation and called the leak a "spill of national significance,"

The real threat is to thousands of independent African American and small businesses in the region that make a living via fishing and tourism. If there is a significant reduction in the oyster, shrimp and fish populations, which has been in decline anyway over the past decade, it may signal an end to the livlihoods of many.

In Louisiana for example, 12 percent of all businesses are owned by African Americans with coastal cities like Baton Rouge having 17 percent black-owned business, most in the fishing and tourism industries. The same can be said of Mobile, Ala., where 14.8 percent of business are black-owned compared to 9 percent for the state of Alabama. If this problem is not under control soon, many family owned and small African American businesses in the Gulf region may not survive.


msladydeborah said...

I suspect that this is just the first season that those businesses will be effected. It is difficult for me to imagine that there isn't going to be long term problems with the oil and clean up process.

Nikki Wadley said...

Just like after Katrina, we will probably see an influx of people from the Golf Coast moving North because now there is truly nothing for them anymore. Their businesses are gone so now they will have to start over again when they tried so hard to rebound from Katrina.

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