Pensacola Beach, Florida
Normal Florida weather returned today and people were once again out enjoying the sun and the beach. One activity not normally seen here though: people were out scooping up some of the white sand this area is known for. They weren’t taking samples though. They were collecting the sand as a souvenir while it’s still oil free. That is likely to change in the next few days.
While beach goers were enjoying the time left before the oil arrives on beaches here in Pensacola Beach, officials were holding a briefing at the Escambia County Emergency Operations Center to discuss the latest response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. I attended the briefing this morning, which included Gov. Charlie Crist, CFO Alex Sink and Bill McCollum.
There were few new details, but among them was the estimated time of arrival for oil as it makes it’s way closer to Florida. This morning the estimates were between 24 and 72 hours. (The latest update now is that the oil will likely remain out to sea for several days.)
Gov. Crist began his comments by saying he would do whatever was necessary to protect Florida. “I always would prefer to be criticized for doing too much, rather than be criticized for doing too little.”
Crist also spoke about opening another command center in Florida. Right now the command center which is overseeing efforts in Florida is in Mobile, Alabama. Crist said that “Mobile is making all the decisions for Florida, and Florida needs more representation.” To that end, he said on Wed. an additional command post will be set up at the Coast Guard Station in St. Petersburg, Florida. The center in Mobile will probably, however, remain the main command center.
Crist also confirmed the announcement by Doug Suttles, CEO of BP, that the State of Florida will receive a $25-million block grant for the initial state and local preparation and response costs for the Deepwater Horizon Response oil spill. He also maintained that the $25 million would not be the end of it.
“We will use the block grant from BP to take proactive measures to help prevent the devastating impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill,” Crist said. “We will continue to be vigilant and take every possible action to protect our beaches and the health and well-being of our residents and visitors.”
Bill McCollum spoke of BP’s liability for the cleanup. He spoke of the reported $75 million cap for liability and said: “Don’t believe the press when they write about this figure.” After pausing amid laughter from the very press there to report his words, he backtracked that comment a little, saying that even though that is the figure mentioned, “there is no cap at all.”
McCollum also warned of scams in the wake of the oil spill. He says many “cleanup” scams have already been reported, and he warned about being wary of signing anything from supposed BP officials.
Upon coming face to face with McCollum right after the briefing, as tempting as it was to ask him why he felt the need to sue on behalf of Floridians in order to take away their health care, I managed to restrain myself. Perhaps I’ll get the chance another time. One can dream, can’t one?