Governor Jindal began his remarks by asking everyone to take a moment of silence in remembrance of the 11 rig workers who lost their lives in the initial fiery explosion that sunk the platform and began the oil leak.
Governor Jindal said, “You all know about our frustrations with the response to the spill last year and the economic effects that rippled through our coastal communities, but one of the most important things I want to talk to you about today are the heroes that stepped forward in response to this disaster. I want this one-year anniversary event to be about honoring the men and women who stepped forward to protect coastal Louisiana.
The Governor thanked parish presidents and other local leaders for working side-by-side with state and federal officials on the front lines in responding to the spill.
The Governor also recognized the Louisiana National Guard. The Governor said, “The Guard was indispensible in responding to the spill – dropping bags of sand, building land bridges, cleaning up tar balls. You name it; they did it. Many of them had just returned from deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan when they got called up again to respond to the oil spill and every Guardsman I talked to was glad to be there, doing whatever they could to protect our coast and the livelihoods of our communities.
“Of course, the biggest heroes in this disaster by far were the people of coastal Louisiana. The people whose resilience and determination brought us through another time of disaster. Our Louisiana people are truly the heart of what makes this state great.”
The Governor continued, “Clean up efforts in some places are still ongoing, and the full scale of the damage done to our state has yet to be calculated, but the good news is that most all of our fishing waters are back open again. Our oyster harvesters are once again providing fresh Louisiana oysters to restaurants across the state and around the world. All of us here today want the entire nation to get the message that Louisiana is making another historic comeback and we invite you to come down here and see it for yourself.”
The Governor said the state recently committed $14 million of state money for shoreline re-vegetation, living shorelines and oyster cultch in order to mitigate any ongoing harm to natural resources. The state will seek reimbursement of those funds from BP; but, in the meantime, is doing everything possible get communities and industries back on their feet..
Governor Jindal said, “We encourage everyone around the country to come down here and see our great progress for themselves. Come down and eat our seafood. Louisiana seafood is now the most-tested seafood in the world. More than 1,200 samples have been tested for oil contamination since May 9, 2010 and zero samples have been unsafe.
“Come down here to go fishing, visit our coastal communities. Come down here to eat in our restaurants; come to our festivals and listen to our music. This is the home of where we ‘let the good times roll’ – and at the heart of that fun is our incredible people.”
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said, “The fishing is better than ever, and that speaks volumes because we’re a world class fishing destination. Our seafood is delicious. But the hotels, lodges, marinas, and charter captains have seen their business drop and not rebound. The shrimpers, crabbers, and oystermen can’t get a good price for their catch because of the perception created by the oil spill. We need BP to make our community whole. And we need BP and the Coast Guard to finish the job cleaning our coast. We need the federal government to treat the restoration of our coast like an emergency and take immediate action before more damage is done. We need BP to fulfill the promises made that they would leave ample equipment here in the event oil resurfaces in the bays and coastline. This fight is not over and we must hold BP’s feet to the fire. One year later I still cannot tell you who is in charge—BP, the Coast Guard, or the Federal Government. I want to thank Governor Jindal and all the Parish leaders—Mayors, Council Members, and Parish Presidents—from across the coast for their dedication and hard work. The team effort was phenomenal through this disaster and we’ve grown as a state because of it.”
St. Bernard Parish President Craig P. Taffaro, Jr, said, “We learned in Katrina the importance of taking a pro-active approach to disaster response. Gov. Jindal and the surrounding parishes’ leaders, as well as our fishermen, our business owners and our residents acted swiftly in our fight to protect our coast and the unique Gulf seafood industry. Admittedly we have a long way to go, and we will not rest until we have assured BP and all responsible parties, ‘Make it right.’”
Jefferson Parish President John F. Young, Jr.. said, “The impact of the BP Oil Disaster is far reaching in Jefferson Parish. The continued recovery is a long road ahead of us. The destruction caused directly by BP’s oil goes beyond the contamination of our beautiful beaches and coastline. The loss of precious marsh and wildlife has been devastating, but we are optimistic nature’s resiliency eventually will allow healing. The loss of livelihoods in an already challenging economy has been profound on many people in Jefferson Parish. Those who are suffering continue to be hopeful, they one day will be made whole. One blessing in the midst of this disaster is the assurance Louisiana’s seafood is safe to eat and still the best in the world. Our Shrimpers, Oystermen and Fishermen and their families remain committed to providing the highest quality and best tasting seafood Louisiana has to offer. Rest assured we will continue to hold BP accountable and responsible for making our coast, natural resources, and our citizens whole. At the end of the day, we will come out of this disaster better and stronger.”
Terrebonne Parish President Michel H. Claudet said, “Almost a year ago, the people of Terrebonne Parish looked on as oil from the BP well poured freely into the Gulf threatening our fishing communities and related industries that have relied on these waters for generations. With help from Gov. Bobby Jindal, we worked tirelessly to keep Terrebonne clean and keep our fisheries safe. One year later, we still need BP to do what’s right and provide our people what they are owed. We need them to continue their work to find whatever oil is left and clean it up. I’m happy to announce, however, that we’re producing some of the best and most abundant seafood I remember in a long time, and I invite folks from all around the world to come down and enjoy our festivals, our foods and our people. I promise you’ll have a good time.”
St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis said, “We are still trying to identify and quantify the effects of the oil spill in St. Tammany Parish. We are concerned about economic impact, physical and mental health issues, as well as the long term environmental impact. During this past year, the cooperation among parish leaders and the Governor’s Office has been one of the better outcomes. We are much stronger as a result of this cooperative spirit and this strength allows us to better represent our citizens.”
Parish President Charlotte Randolph said, “Now is a great time to come to Lafourche Parish to enjoy our food, culture and fun.”
Grand Isle Mayor David Camardelle said, “The people of Grand Isle endured hurricanes and storms that have swallowed our island whole, and time and time again we’ve rebuilt. While we knew we could rebuild our community from storms, the oil spill was something that threatened our way of life. This community relies on the Gulf for our livelihoods, and the restaurants and kitchens all around the country rely on the fresh seafood we get from these waters. A year ago, I saw with my own eyes oil come onto our beaches, but I’m happy to report that with the efforts of state and local leaders, these waters have some of the best tasting and most rigorously tested seafood in the world. Today, we’re open for business – and our docks and boats are welcome to visitors from around the world to come down to Grand Isle and enjoy a few days – or even weeks – of great fishing.”
Jean Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner said, “For generations, this community has depended on the rich waters of the Gulf, and the BP oil spill put our economy and heritage in serious danger. While the situation was bad, there’s been a lot of progress in getting the Gulf back to normal. I’m happy to see shrimping boats that were once outfitted with boom, get their nets back and hit the waters on the hunt for delicious Louisiana seafood. We still need BP and the Coastguard to clean up the areas that need it, but I can assure the rest of the world that the seafood coming out of the Gulf is as safe as ever.”
Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts said, “We are optimistic about our coast’s recovery and encourage tourist to visit Grand Isle in what is sure to be an important part of our recovery this spring and summer.”
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