Barbour creates Miss. oil-spill recovery panel


Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said Monday he’s creating a 34-member group to examine the impact of the BP oil spill and help devise a recovery and development plan for the state’s coastal region.

Barbour said the Mississippi Gulf of Mexico Commission will be co-chaired by two state agency directors – Bill Walker at the Department of Marine Resources and Trudy Fisher at the Department of Environmental Quality. Other members are scientists, business people and elected officials.

The group will develop a plan to submit to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, a former Mississippi governor appointed by President Barack Obama to lead the long-term Gulf restoration.

“The Gulf of Mexico is the driving force of the Gulf Coast economy, so effective long-term planning and action to improve this asset will result in long-term economic growth for the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” Barbour said in a news release.

The commission’s first meeting is 2:30 p.m. Tuesday on the 7th floor of the Hancock Bank building in Gulfport.

The governor’s office said the other commission members are Richard Gollott, representing seafood processors; Tom Becker, representing the Mississippi Gulf Coast Charter Boats Association; Vernon Asper, marine science professor at the University of Southern Mississippi; Ray Highsmith, director of the National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology at the University of Mississippi; David Shaw, vice president for research and economic development at Mississippi State University; LaDon Swann, director of Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium; Jay Grimes, USM professor of marine microbial ecology; Gulf Coast Business Council chairman Ron Peresich; Hancock Bank executive John Hairston; Jackson County businessman Jerry St. Pe; Hancock County businessman Chuck Benvenutti; former Ole Miss Chancellor Robert Khayat; State Port Commission member Frances Turnage; Commissioner of Higher Education Hank Bounds; Chevron executive Steve Renfroe; Hancock County Chamber of Commerce director Tish Williams; Sen. Tommy Moffatt, R-Gautier; Rep. Frances Fredericks, D-Gulfport; 11 mayors; and the presidents of the Jackson, Harrison, and Hancock county boards of supervisors.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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