Mayors visit oil-stricken region
On June 21, a delegation from the Washington-based United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), including USCM President and Burnsville, Minn., Mayor Elizabeth Kautz, took a tour of the Gulf Coast communities that are being affected by the oil spill from British Petroleum’s (BP) Deepwater Horizon rig. The purpose of the trip, along with standing in solidarity with New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the mayors of the region impacted by the BP oil disaster, was to push Washington and BP to accept the oil disaster recommendations adopted at USCM’s 78th Annual Meeting.
The mayors began the day with a bus trip to Lafitte, La., for remarks from Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner and a briefing from U.S. Coast Guard Incident Commander Captain Roger Laferriere at the Emergency Operations Center. Following the briefing, the mayors toured the oil-soiled marshes in boats with Louisiana fishermen. The day then concluded with a late seafood lunch and press conference at Bon Ton Café in New Orleans. “The nation’s mayors are here today to stand together in solidarity with our colleagues as we have with other disasters – 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina – and to offer our support to the people of the Gulf Region,” Kautz said. “We have gained today a better understanding of the true impact of the oil well disaster on the people, the environment, and the culture here, and Mayor Landrieu has made us even more determined to put the full force of our organization behind the national effort to do what must be done for all the cities and towns that have been, and will be, affected.”
Accompanying Kautz on the trip were USCM Second Vice President Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and USCM CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran, along with several mayors from cities across the country including Santa Barbara and Long Beach, Calif.; Houston; Baton Rouge and Lake Charles, La.; Biloxi, Miss.; Mobile, Ala.; Fort Myers, Fla.; and others.
During last week’s conference, USCM passed a resolution on the oil disaster calling for the Obama administration to establish a special task force of appropriate senior federal officials, including a Gulf oil disaster commander, to direct the actions of all the federal agencies involved, to provide timely and updated information to mayors and local officials on mitigation efforts, and to ensure that lead federal agencies are coordinating closely with cities and local governments in all phases of the national response. “The oil spill is a national tragedy that requires a national response,” Landrieu said as he thanked the mayors for responding to his call to come to New Orleans. “The disaster threatens our coast and environment, our fisheries that feed the nation, and our unique culture that is the highlight of New Orleans’ tourism industry. After Hurricane Katrina, we were grateful to have the support and assistance of cities across the country, and we need the same unity of purpose to meet these new challenges.”
Read the entire report of the mayors’ trip to the oil spill-affected area.