Nelson said as he departed Orlando for a trip to the Pensacola area for a first-hand look at preparations to combat the spill, "This is the largest environmental disaster in our nation's history. If this doesn't call for more organization, control and assets -- like, subsea mapping by the Navy, for instance -- then nothing does." Nelson's stop at area emergency operations centers comes as the Panhandle confronts the stark reality of oil washing ashore in Florida. Government forecasters are closely tracking a significant plume of oil 35 miles off Pensacola Beach. None of that oil was expected to make landfall before Saturday. But officials warn tar balls could start hitting area beaches by tomorrow.
In a June 1, letter to the President, Senator Nelson said, "Last week I respectfully suggested that you consider calling on the Pentagon -- if the attempted 'top kill' of the well didn't work. Despite initial reports to the contrary, that attempt failed. And it now appears likely that oil will continue gushing at least until August when two relief wells can be finished. . . it is my belief that the broader assets and command and control capability of the Department of Defense could better translate your directives into prompt, effective action."
Nelson's release indicates that he is a long-time opponent of offshore drilling off Florida's Gulf coast. Nelson was instrumental in getting the first live images of the well disaster made public, leading to a re-evaluation of the amount of oil actually gushing from the well. He's also filed legislation to raise the liability cap for economic and environmental damages for the spill from $75 million to whatever it costs to "fix the mess and compensate folks for their losses." He's filed another bill to toughen regulation of the oil industry and end lax oversight by the Federal government.
Access a release from Senator Nelson (click here). Access Nelson's letter to the President (click here). Access the BP response website for links to visuals on how the LMRP is supposed to work (click here). Access a release on the BP billing (click here). Access a release on the Coast Guard response in the Keys (click here). Access additional information updates and links to releases and briefings on the Administrations response from the Unified Command website (click here). Access EPA's environmental monitoring site (click here). Access the White House website on the BP spill which contains links to all Federal agency response websites and more (click here).
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