Secretary of Navy Ray Mabus tours Coast - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Secretary of Navy Ray Mabus tours Coast

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

By Krystal Allan – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus kicked off a five-day tour of the coast in Mississippi. He's visiting Gulf states impacted by the oil spill. 

The former Mississippi governor met with state and local officials Wednesday afternoon in a closed-door meeting at the Mississippi Municipal League conference in Biloxi.  Secretary Mabus says plans for long-term recovery can only start in one place if they're going to work.

"I think any plan that's going to work has to come from the coast up to Washington and not vice versa," Mabus said.

Leaders with Secretary Mabus say that's the commitment to long-term recovery they were hoping to hear. 

"We're all thrilled Secretary Mabus is down here.  He knows the coast he knows Mississippi. He's going to be very genuine in his efforts to put a program together that's grass roots from the coast," Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran said.

According to Secretary Mabus, recovery efforts will be thwarted if some critical steps aren't  taken.

"I think one of the most important things this process can do is to cut through some of the red tape," Mabus said.

Leaders who attended the meeting say specifics of the plan were not rolled out.

But, Congressman Gene Taylor said those who serve locally can count on their input being included under Mabus' watch.

"He was a local elected official.  He knows what it's like for people to call him and say hey  what's going on.  It's the same thing all of our mayors and supervisors are going through. He understands it's not just them asking these questions, it's the folks they represent asking these questions," Congressman Gene Taylor said.

Some may question how restoration can begin with oil still leaking in the Gulf, but Mabus said the efforts can't wait.

"I understand that people are worried about the here and now. They're worried about today. But, my job and the President has given me this job...is to look to the future," Mabus said.

Secretary Mabus acknowledges BP is still ultimately in charge of footing the bill. But, he said if additional funding is deemed appropriate for certain aspects of the plan, it's critical those sources are nailed down.

Secretary Mabus will continue his tour of the Gulf Coast states meeting with state and local officials in Louisiana, Alabama and Florida.

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