Lt. Gov. tells conference "no need for panic" over oil spill - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Lt. Gov. tells conference "no need for panic" over oil spill

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

By Steve Phillips – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The oil spill is certainly a hot topic at this year's Smart Growth convention in Biloxi.

Hosted each year by the Department of Marine Resources, the "Coastal Development Strategies Conference" brings together a wide range of environmental experts, government leaders and concerned citizens. This year, the ongoing oil crisis is very much on their minds. 

"One of the things I really appreciate about the media here in Mississippi is the fact that they haven't over reacted to the oil spill," said Lt. Governor Phil Bryant, as he addressed the morning session of the conference.

Mississippi's lieutenant governor said that's not been the case with all media.  He described an interview last week with a TV station in San Diego.

"And the guy said, 'We're talking with the lieutenant governor from the state of Mississippi. He has an Exxon-Valdez oil spill there.'  No, I don't first thing. Let me get that straight. This is not the Exxon-Valdez. This is a totally different product. This is Louisiana sweet crude. And oh, by the way, it's still 60 miles off our shore. Thus far, we've seen nothing," said the lieutenant governor.

Bryant said it's important to send the message that the Mississippi Gulf Coast is still beautiful and open for tourism.

"The latest reports I get, as the product is skimmed off the surface, the closest to shore there is no hydro carbons in it. So, it's not toxic. That's very good news. But what needs to happen now, and BP is working very hard, is hopefully get that leak stopped," said Bryant.

Senator Tommy Gollott said that certainly needs to happen before hurricane season.

"They say, don't cry wolf. Well, if it's 60 days or 90 days, we better start crying something and praying to the Lord that it doesn't happen and they'll be able to cap this thing. We're hoping and praying we can do that," said Sen. Gollott.

Some environmental advocates worry most about oil covering sensitive wetlands. Oil can be scooped and removed from a beach.  That's not so easy in the marsh.

"I don't think we know how long it would take for the marshes to absolutely recover, if they recover," said Judy Steckler, with the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain.

"There's no need for panic. It is not the national disaster that many have led you to believe. The poor folks in San Diego, California think we're all under oil here," said Lt. Gov. Bryant.

Bryant told everyone it's important to promote a positive tourism message and let folks know they should keep their vacation and convention plans on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He told the group he's bringing the national lieutenant governor's convention to Biloxi this summer.

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