An unassuming warehouse on the banks of the Hudson River provides cover for the most absurd – not to mention irresponsible – use of BP tourism funds to date. Inside is a 1,600-square-foot artificial swamp, just like the kind you’d find down on the bayou in Louisiana (except fake) – complete with live alligators, turtles and 15-foot cypress trees draped in Spanish moss. Why, you ask? What purpose could this “mini swamp” possibly serve? Why to lure New Yorkers down to Louisiana, of course.
Apparently somebody’s been smoking the Spanish moss, because you’d have to be either high or insane to sign off on this project. Here’s the setup from a Feb. 14 report in the Australian:
The oil company’s lingering efforts to make amends for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill have embroiled it in an improbable series of tourist promotions that have raised questions about how compensation funds are being spent.
In an ambitious attempt to encourage New Yorkers to visit Louisiana – one of the Gulf states worst affected by the spill from the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig – state authorities ploughed more than $US50,000 ($46,585) of BP’s money into the construction of a mini swamp in downtown Manhattan. Live alligators and turtles were shipped to a riverside warehouse converted into a 520 sq m swamp with 4 1/2m cypress trees draped in spanish moss.
Jay Dardenne, Louisiana’s Lieutenant Governor, flew from New Orleans with a folkloric delegation that included a woodcarver, a basket weaver, a chef specialising in Creole food and a Sac au Lait, a Cajun band.
Mr Dardenne insisted the money was being “extremely well spent” on an exhibit that was earning Louisiana extensive news coverage in the New York media.
Somebody should let Mr. Dardenne know that being written up as the “poster project” for squandered BP tourism funds is probably not the kind of media coverage he should be seeking.
Aside from cleanup costs and victim compensation, BP has provided $92 million for promoting tourism in the impacted states. The Manhattan swamp is a half-baked (at best) use of the money. Many such “promotional” projects – though this one is particularly reckless – have benefited unrelated commercial interests while providing little or no boost to Gulf tourism.
Our elected officials must ensure that BP funds are used wisely, on behalf of Gulf Coast residents and businesses. With so many people still suffering financially, it is exceedingly difficult to watch our politicians dump money into projects that have no chance of providing any sort of return on investment. Make no mistake, we will hold them accountable for their actions.
Read the Australian report by Tony Allen-Mills: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/bps-big-apple-alligator-stunt-bites/story-fnb64oi6-1226270144116
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