“Study” Falls Short


Yet another study on the economic impacts of the BP spill is out, indicating that gross short-term revenue lost by the fishing industry is something like $172 million. Commissioned by the Greater New Orleans Inc. economic development agency, at least it admits it was of “limited scope” because it falls way, way short of tracking the economic losses.

In a Times-Picayune story, and online at nola.com, we learn that “The study focused exclusively on the short-term economic impact of the spill on fisheries, the fishing industry and fishermen. It is the first of three studies. The next two, one on the economic impact of the oil and gas moratorium and another on damage to the Louisiana brand, will follow later this month and at the end of the year.”

Well, even if we give this work the benefit of the doubt as actual research and not some lowballing back-to-business scheme, it falls well short of being helpful. It takes a very narrow look at economic losses, and the T-P writes this: “However, the losses do not initially appear to be as great as feared because of the infusion of cash into the industry from BP, which is paying damage claims to fishermen and employing them in oil spill clean up efforts, the study’s authors said.”

And then this: “The oil spill has yet to precipitate an urgency regarding the future,” the author’s wrote. “Fishermen will wait out the situation and try to find ways to return to their livelihoods when they can.”

The real scientific proof this study offers is that there must actually be parallel universes, because I represent one of the region’s largest commercial fishermen’s groups and trust me on this, there’s plenty of urgency regarding their futures. So the T-P, without coming out and saying so, gives us ample warning signs that this kind of study-science from official groups will be plentiful. The underlying message is “all clear,” even as other researchers are appalled at our lack of information about dispersant in the food chain and as oil continues to wash into environmentally sensitive areas.

Read between the lines here:


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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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