Video: Rep. Cassidy Opening Statement In Oil Spill Hearing

June 10, 2010

Baton Rouge, LA – Serving as the Ranking Republican in a House Natural Resources Subcommittee hearing on the Gulf Oil Spill, Louisiana Congressman Bill Cassidy explained that, “Our government has the power to mitigate or to terribly worsen the damages caused by this spill,” and called on Washington to, “be guided by facts,” “not make knee-jerk decisions that will further cripple the Gulf economy,” and “make sure that people affected by this disaster are financially compensated in a timely manner.”

Cassidy’s remarks were delivered as follows:

“Madam Chair, thank you for holding this hearing today. I am pleased that my Colleagues are committed to pursuing solutions to the ongoing oil spill. The people of the Gulf Coast, including especially the people of my state of Louisiana, have had their lives upended by this disaster. Yet the actions of this committee, the Congress and the Administration will also have a significant impact. Our government has the power to mitigate or to terribly worsen the damages caused by this spill.”

“Madam Chair, this disaster may affect the economy of the Gulf for years to come. While most of the Gulf remains open to fishing and seafood coming from the Gulf is safe, we are already seeing a reduction in demand for Gulf seafood. This loss of market share does not just affect fishermen, but also seafood processors, the truckers who take the seafood to market, and workers from almost every other aspect of the Gulf’s commercial fishery.”

“And it’s not just commercial fishermen who suffer, recreational fishermen, charter boat owners, and businesses that depend upon recreational fishing also suffer.”

“The loss of habitat for fish and wildlife could also take years to restore. The Gulf is resilient, but if an entire year of spawning potential for fish is lost to the spill and the marshes are not able to support the juvenile fish and wildlife next year, it may take even our Gulf fisheries longer to recover.”

“That said, many of the folks who make their living in the fisheries, live next door to the folks that make their living in the offshore oil and gas industry. These two industries have successfully operated side by side years for years. I met yesterday with an oyster processor, and he said in times that were slow for fisheries, people would work in offshore oil. And when times are slow for offshore oil, they would work in the fisheries. And he’s concerned that this one two punch will be impossible four our coastal economy to overcome. We all use the products from the offshore oil and gas industry—to fuel our cars and airplanes, and for plastics, fertilizers, for a wide variety of products that come from petrochemicals. So it’s important to remember that the United States relies on all the natural resources of the Gulf – not just the fish.”

“Madam Chair, the spill is a disaster and a tragedy. First of all, we must stop the leak of oil, the coastline must be protected, and what has already spilled must be cleaned. But the national economy and the Louisiana coastal economy needs to continue to operate. While we can recover from the oil, Gulf Coast communities cannot endure the loss of jobs and its citizens.”

“The Federal government must not make knee-jerk decisions that will further cripple the Gulf economy. We must find out what went wrong with the Deepwater Horizon and ensure that something similar does not happen again. But calls to stop all oil and gas production in the Gulf will only cause us to lose more jobs, more businesses, and more of our economy.”

“The Federal government should take steps to help the people affected by the spill now, even before the spill is plugged. For example, we need to make sure that Americans know that seafood from the Gulf is safe.”

“We need to work together to make sure that people affected by this disaster are financially compensated in a timely manner. Fishermen who have boat and insurance payments and who cannot work must be compensated quickly so they don’t lose their boats and their homes. And those businesses that depend on fishermen must be fairly compensated as well. Otherwise, they won’t be there when the fisheries reopen. Whole communities that rely on the fishing industry could disappear if those affected are not compensated fairly and quickly.”

“Madam Chair, our response to this disaster needs to be guided by facts—not emotion, not political opportunism, but facts. Let’s stay focused on the evidence and figure out what measures will ensure that the people, the economies, and the ecosystems of the Gulf will thrive.”

“Thank you, Madam Chair, for convening this hearing. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses.”

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