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Robert Trigaux

As Florida resentment rises over spill, new report warns of job, economic losses ahead



OilspillbootsinoilAPWake up and good morning. We may as well get used to analysts taking a stab at the economic damage generated by the BP gulf oil spill because there will be a lot of these reports coming in the months and even years ahead.

The latest, out Monday, comes from Moody's director Marisa Di Natale (photo, below right) who says BP’s oil spill may cost the U.S. Gulf Coast region 17,000 jobs and about $1.2 billion in lost economic growth by year-end even if the flow is stanched permanently next month.

MarisaDiNatalemoodysmug  And if the oil spill continues through December? And if President Barack Obama’s six- month moratorium on deepwater drilling is extended? Then Natale says economic losses may reach $7.4 billion, and more than 100,000 jobs would be lost. All this, of course, atop the already wrenching recession.

One of the aspects of this report that struck me is the geographic concentration of economic damage likely from the spill. That's kind of a Duh, I suppose -- damage is greatest where tar balls are washing ashore. But that geography could extend to the Tampa Bay area. Watch this Fox News interview with Natale and note the map that includes Tampa Bay in the area of affected coast line.  

Florida, which relies on tourism, and Louisiana, with its heavy dependence on fishing, aquaculture and oil extraction, are likely to be hardest hit by the spill, the report said. Here's more from Bloomberg News on the Moody's report.

If the oil gets into the Gulf’s loop current and goes up the east coast of Florida, the report says it would close beaches along the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to the Florida Keys and Florida’s Atlantic beaches through March 2011.

So... in a way, Florida may face an extraordinary economic hit if the oil spreads that far. And yet Florida's working so hard to avoid drilling near its pristine coastlines... is all for nothing? I mention this because there is growing resentment in Florida that the other gulf states embraced offshore drilling and therefore acknowledged the risks to this own shores if there was a spill. Florida chose to avoid drilling and may still get the shaft. Some sense of that resentment is captured in this AP story dated July 20 in which some Florida leaders suggest this state is an innocent bystander and should get more help. How bizarre this all comes out as Tallahassee's about to consider (sort of) a constitutional ban on drilling.

Groverrobinsonexcambiacountycommissioner  "I know we're all in it together," Grover Robinson (with microphone, photo right, Pensacola News  Journal), a commissioner in Escambia County, home to Pensacola, who says Florida should get any aid first because it had no role in the catastrophe. He tells AP: "But Florida's injuries are greater because we don't do this stuff."

What do you think? If your messy neighbors dump their garbage in your yard, do you deserve special attention?

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 11:00am]


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