NACo creates task force to address Gulf oil spill
The Washington-based National Association of Counties (NACo) has established a Gulf Counties & Parishes Oil Spill Task Force to ensure that the needs of local governments associated with the Deepwater Horizon disaster are addressed sufficiently by the federal government. Members of the task force include the executive directors of the five Gulf Coast state associations of counties most affected by the BP oil spill – Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi and Texas – and two local elected officials from each state.
The task force has asked for a high-level meeting with White House officials “to discuss a number of serious concerns local government officials have about the oil spill cleanup and recovery process,” said NACo President Glen Whitley in a statement. Tarrant County, Texas, Judge Whitley created the task force and serves as chair.
The task force has asked White House officials to be prepared to discuss four primary concerns:
• Establishment of a dedicated federal funding program to reimburse counties and parishes for cleanup expenses and lost revenue;
• Streamlining of the local government claims submission and reimbursement process;
• Support for lifting the moratorium on deep water drilling to mitigate economic losses in the region; and
• Support for additional resources to address the mental health needs of Gulf Coast residents.
Counties and parishes are on the front lines of the containment, cleanup and recovery effort and have advanced hundreds of millions of local taxpayer dollars to respond to the oil spill, according to Whitley. They also are providing enhanced social services to meet the needs of people affected by the spill and will play an essential role in leading the restoration of the Gulf Coast environment and economy.
Whitley said it is critical to discuss those important issues directly with White House officials because, to date, BP often has been unresponsive to local needs and claims requests. In addition, Whitley said counties and parishes in the region continue to receive inconsistent information from various federal agencies involved in the cleanup effort. “It is our hope that the [task force] will open the lines of communications between Washington and the local leaders whose communities are suffering economically, environmentally and emotionally in the aftermath of this great disaster,” Whitley said.
Download more information about the Gulf Counties & Parishes Oil Spill Task Force.