Editorial: The summer of the oil spill can’t end too soon


WHILE THE rest of the nation may regard Labor Day as the end of summer, we on the Gulf Coast have always known that in the Deep South, it’s only the beginning of the end. The sweltering heat generally lasts for several more weeks.

Still, anything that even hints at the end of this particular summer is welcome.

From closed beaches in Alabama to closed waters in Mississippi and oily marshes in Louisiana, the summer of 2010 will be remembered for the oil spill that dealt a body blow to tourism, commercial and charter fishing, and the budgets of state and local governments.

Even though BP engineers stopped the flow of oil in mid-July, the effects of the spill will be felt in these parts for a long time. While municipalities continue to monitor and clean their beaches, scientists will be gauging the health of seafood and the ecosystem, and claims czar Kenneth Feinberg will be evaluating and paying damage claims.

Happily, merchants and hotel managers said tourists were heading in large numbers to area beaches for this three-day holiday. Mother Nature appeared to be cooperating, much to tourism officials’ relief.

If the folks who visit Mississippi’s and Alabama’s resort communities for Labor Day will return home to tell friends and families that the beaches are clean, the waters are open for fishing and swimming, and restaurants and boutiques are up and running, then word will spread and the tourism industry will get a much-needed boost.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the tourism-related businesses in this region usually make the bulk of their money from mid-May through August. And this year, those months were a bust.

Here’s hoping that today is the beginning of happier and more prosperous days for those whose livelihoods depend on Gulf Coast tourism.

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

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