Paulo Augusto --
Yesterday, I visited Caminada Bay in Grand Isle, Louisiana -- one of the
first places to feel the devastation wrought by the oil spill in the
Gulf of Mexico. While I was here, at Camerdelle's Live Bait shop, I met
with a group of local residents and small business owners.
Folks like Floyd Lasseigne, a fourth-generation oyster fisherman. This
is the time of year when he ordinarily earns a lot of his income. But
his oyster bed has likely been destroyed by the spill.
Terry Vegas had a similar story. He quit the 8th grade to become a
shrimper with his grandfather. Ever since, he's earned his living during
shrimping season -- working long, grueling days so that he could earn
enough money to support himself year-round. But today, the waters where
he has worked are closed. And every day, as the spill worsens, he loses
hope that he will be able to return to the life he built.
Here, this spill has not just damaged livelihoods. It has upended whole
communities. And the fury people feel is not just about the money they
have lost. It is about the wrenching recognition that this time their
lives may never be the same.
These people work hard. They meet their responsibilities. But now
because of a manmade catastrophe -- one that is not their fault and
beyond their control -- their lives have been thrown into turmoil. It is
brutally unfair. And what I told these men and women is that I will
stand with the people of the Gulf Coast until they are again made whole.
That is why, from the beginning, we have worked to deploy every tool at
our disposal to respond to this crisis. Today, there are more than
20,000 people working around the clock to contain and clean up this
spill. I have authorized 17,500 National Guard troops to participate in
the response. More than 1,900 vessels are aiding in the containment and
cleanup effort. We have convened hundreds of top scientists and
engineers from around the world. This is the largest response to an
environmental disaster of this kind in the history of our country.
We have also ordered BP to pay economic injury claims, and this week,
the federal government sent BP a preliminary bill for $69 million to pay
back American taxpayers for some of the costs of the response so far. In
addition, after an emergency safety review, we are putting in place
aggressive new operating standards for offshore drilling. And I have
appointed a bipartisan commission to look into the causes of this spill.
If laws are inadequate, they will be changed. If oversight was lacking,
it will be strengthened. And if laws were broken, those responsible will
be brought to justice.
These are hard times in Louisiana and across the Gulf Coast, an area
that has already seen more than its fair share of troubles. The people
of this region have met this terrible catastrophe with seemingly
boundless strength and character in defense of their way of life. What
we owe them is a commitment by our nation to match the resilience they
have shown. That is our mission. And it is one we will fulfill.
President Barack Obama
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