Governor of Florida sets up an Oil Cleaning Taskforce.
Posted by Enkill_Eridos on May 12, 2010
The winds of fortune continued to blow Florida’s way Tuesday, and state officials were given another day to chart plans to battle an oil spill whose arrival still appears imminent.
On a day when southeasterly winds continued to keep the giant spill away from Florida waters, Gov. Charlie Crist announced the formation of a Gulf Oil Spill Economic Recovery Task Force.
The task force will be a 15-member group with a mission to protect businesses and make sure BP PLC recoups businesses for financial losses caused by its Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
State Sen. Don Gaetz sounded skeptical that the task force would be of great benefit or comprised of a significant number of Northwest Florida residents.
“I’m sure it’s very governor-like to appoint a committee, but what we really need is specific action,” said Gaetz, R-Niceville.
Crist also called for a special session of the Legislature to draw up wording for a constitutional amendment that might ultimately lead to memorializing a ban on oil drilling in Florida waters.
When Crist announced the call for a special session, he said he believed state lawmakers were behind him.
However, by the end of the day leaders of the state House and Senate had voiced opposition.
“A law on the books now bans drilling in the sovereign waters of the state of Florida,” said Gaetz, who is opposed to the session. “That law would have to be changed before any drilling can be done.”
In a news release, Senate President Jeff Atwater said the special session could cost taxpayers up to $40,000 per day. Atwater said the state didn’t need to be spending that kind of money.
State Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, said Crist had taken one of 10 specific recommendations he’d made recently and requested that federal low-interest loans be provided through the Small Business Administration.
Those loans could be used by businesses whose profits are being affected even now by the threat of the oil spill, Gaetz said.
“Even though there are no tar balls yet, businesses are seeing a significant economic impact,” Rep. Gaetz said.
Sen. Gaetz’s request Monday that BP make $200 million available for Florida to spend to prepare for the oil spill was one-upped Tuesday by U.S. Sen. George LeMieux.
LeMieux called on BP to establish a $1 billion “evergreen” fund to prevent and mitigate damage to the coastlines of Florida and other Gulf Coast states, according to a news release from his office.
The big news of the day locally came from Walton County, where Sheriff Mike Adkinson and Emergency Operations Center director Mike Barker participated in a conference call with Mike Sole, director of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
The purpose was to iron out differences the state and county had over the county’s plan to use hay to contain any oil that might wash up there.
“It was a very, very good meeting,” Adkinson said.
Adkinson said he and Barker told Sole that Walton County’s plan was drawn up quickly, when it appeared the county would be inundated within 72 hours.
A call to throw hay on the approaching oil slick in hopes of protecting county beaches was “based on what we knew at the time.”
Adkinson said the state was made aware that there are no plans to put hay on “sheens” of surface oil or tar balls. They hay would only be used in the worst-case scenario of an oil slick approaching the county’s shores.
He said Sole agreed that work the county has done to protect its shores with booms would be reimbursed.
Okaloosa County emergency managers were waiting Tuesday to hear whether the state would approve their comprehensive 74-page oil spill plan.
Public Safety Director Dino Villani said word from the state could come today.
Santa Rosa County officials, whose action plan was approved Monday, were finalizing funding agreements with the state, according to a news release from the county.
“A written tactical and operational protection plan” was being prepared, according to county spokeswoman Joy Tsubooka.
This was a copy and paste, but really the past two governors of Florida would have been great presidents. So I am going to say this, unless Charlie messes up somewhere I will be voting for him in the next election. Despite the fact that the media does not pay attention to independent political parties and because of that Independent Party candidates are often overlooked.(That’s something for another time.)