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Robert Trigaux

BP spill hovers off Florida Panhandle, but even Europe's shores may be vulnerable

Charliecriststaffinspectpensacolawatersspill2010ap  Wake up and good morning. Well, the day of reckoning for Florida's Panhandle draws near now that the BP oil spill is less than 10 miles from the Pensacola area and Floridian mindset, finally, has switched from if the oil hits our coastlines to when and how bad. Consider today's Wall Street Journal story on this topic. (AP photo: Gov. Crist off Pensacola beaches.)

It's admirable, I suppose, to see Florida Gov. Charlie Crist running around the Panhandle with state tourism officials trying to retool a $7 million ad blitz as currents pushed the Deepwater Horizon spill closer to Florida's shores. Marketing the Panhandle now has a last-gasp feel to it, as if tourists are clueless of the impending danger and ads glibly saying "our coast is clear" somehow will make everything all right.

At this stage of the BP disaster, tourists are not only interested in clean beaches but want an atmosphere of peace and relaxation. The Panhandle, at this point, is filled instead (and rightfully so) with anger, frustration, economic fear and depression. Probably not a perfect spot to sip maragaritas.

Carol Dover, head of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, has it right in this Florida Today 
story :

"What do we do next? We have to get people to remember the other parts of our state without being disrespectful to the people who are hurting."

That's the micro view. Two compelling pieces, one each in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, offer a macro look at the much longer-term view of this wretched oil spill. The Journal's
opinion piece , headlined How Far Will The Gulf Gusher Spread? looks far enough into the future to discuss the oil spill eventually crossing the Atlantic and hitting Europe's shores.

And the New York Times blog, headlined What If The Oil Just Kept Flowing, compares the 1991 Iraq war even in which fleeing Iraqi troops opened valves sending some 8 million barrels of crude into the Persian Gulf. The posting ends on a hopeful note:

"While sharp drops in shrimp populations were seen shortly afterward, international studies found that the oil had not done long-term damage to corals or fish stocks in that gulf. Let’s hope the same holds true this time."

Indeed. And not just for us gulf coast F loridians.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 10:59am]


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