Worried that oil from the BP disaster will sully Atlantic beaches at the start of the tourist season, 22 East Coast senators — including Virginia’s — want the federal government and state governments to start planning for the worst.
Democrats Jim Webb and Mark Warner and 20 other senators from both parties are pressing Washington to begin immediate talks with Atlantic Coast states on the containment and cleanup of any oil from the Gulf of Mexico that reaches the eastern seaboard.
“Our states’ beaches are fully open for the summer season, and at this time, the oil spill does not pose an imminent threat,” the senators said in a letter yesterday to senior federal officials.
“However, the health of our shores is too important to be left to chance — not only are they natural treasures, but they are also how many families in our coastal communities earn a living.
“They add billions of dollars to our states’ economies, support millions of jobs and bring employment to millions more families from nearby and across the nation.”
In their letter, the senators — representing 12 states, from Maine to Georgia — called on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to begin immediate talks with their states on “how best to prepare for managing an oil spill and ensuring that [the] states are properly equipped for the worst-case scenario.”
Further, the senators said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, should provide the states with “science-based predictions about the long-term direction of the oil spill and chemical dispersants.”
The two senators among the 12 states who did not sign the letter are Joseph I. Lieberman, I-Conn., and Judd Gregg, R-N.H.
The letter was sent to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, and Adm. Thad W. Allen, commandant of the Coast Guard.