NEW YORK -- To address the economic devastation the BP oil spill has wreaked on the livelihoods of Gulf Coast fishermen and related industries, the National Urban League has proposed a Gulf Coast Bill of Rights.
“Every day the nation is confronted with the image of oil-slicked birds and dead and dying wildlife, but the plight of the human beings whose lives have been torn apart has been neglected,” said National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial. “The ecosystem of the Gulf Coast must and will be restored, but the people who depend upon it to make a living cannot wait.”
Morial said a Bill of Rights for Gulf Coast residents must accomplish three goals:
• Establish a victim’s compensation fund.
• Initiate a comprehensive plan to rebuild coastal Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
• Provide stronger oversight and best practices to ensure safety of all offshore oil and gas drilling.
“The tragic deaths of the 11 crew members serve as a moral imperative to improve safety of the drilling industry,” Morial said. “The lives of many more rely upon a thorough and sincere response to the catastrophy.”
The immediate establishment of a victim’s compensation fund would allow affected businesses and workers to be compensated in a timely manner, and put the Gulf Coast economy on a course for recovery, Morial said.
He endorsed Sen. Mary Landrieu’s Restoring Ecosystem Sustainability and Protection on the Delta Act, which would direct 37.5 percent of offshore oil royalty payments to coastal states beginning in 2017.
“As Sen. Landrieu has pointed out and as the oil spill has made abundantly clear, the people of the Gulf states absorb 100 percent of the risk of offshore drilling and deserve a portion of the $5 billion in royalty payments that the drilling generates,” Morial said.
Morial plans a fact-finding mission to the Gulf Coast later this month, when he and other leaders and elected officials will meet with the victims of the spill and begin to determine a detailed course of action to allow the region’s recovery.
National Urban League, 120 Wall Street 8th Floor, New York, NY 10005-3904 United States