Jul 14, 2010 8:20 PM by Chris Welty
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Some of the nation's lieutenant governors
were expecting to only hear lessons about the Gulf region's
recovery from a devastating hurricane at an annual meeting along
Biloxi's white sands this month.
Now, they'll be right in the middle of the region's latest
disaster: the BP oil spill. Many of them view it as an opportunity
to learn best practices when disaster strikes their home states.
Alaska Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell said the 1989 Exxon-Valdez oil
spill in his state has been "eclipsed" in scope by the leak in
the gulf, where millions of gallons of oil have gushed since the
Deepwater Horizon rig explosion in April.
"We had rocky shorelines. We don't have the sand or shallow
marsh land. The response is a lot different than what we faced,"
Campbell said. "I think I can learn a lot about the way
Mississippi and the federal government are responding and bring
back ideas to ensure Alaska has environmentally sound ways of
developing natural gas projects."
About half of the country's second-in-command for states have
confirmed they'll attend the National Lieutenant Governors
Association meeting July 28-30.
The images welcoming them to the coast will likely include
cleanup crews clad in fluorescent vests, tossing bits of tar into
plastic bags or skimmer boats navigating oil-slick patches. But
beachgoers also still venture onto the sands along U.S. 90,
spanning several coastal cities.
Anthony G. Brown, Maryland's lieutenant governor, had considered
scaling back his visit because of his in-state responsibilities and
the recession, but later changed his mind, said his press secretary
"He wants to be able to bring that firsthand knowledge to the
state so that if something like this were to happen to Chesapeake
Bay, we would know what responses work," Raia said.
The meeting will be held at the Beau Rivage Casino in Biloxi, a
centerpiece gaming house. The agenda includes presentations from
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a Federal Emergency Management
Agency official and international business leaders.
Mississippi Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant made the bid to host the
meeting last year, long before the rig explosion. Bryant said he
personally called his colleagues to assure them the coast could
handle the meeting.
The meeting's theme of "Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal," is
eerily appropriate for a region that again will have to fight back
from devastation, nearly five years after Hurricane Katrina's surge
washed away houses, businesses and lives.
"It's unusual that as we were building this around disaster
response, we had another one," Bryant said.
Separating fact from fiction is what Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill
Bolling said he wants to do.
"You get conflicting reports on what to expect. You turn on the
nightly news and you get the impression the entire Gulf Coast is
devastated. Yet, when you talk to many of the officials, they're
talking about the fact that beaches are open for business."
State officials are working hard to get their message out.
A television advertisement that began running in 15 regional
markets on Wednesday beckoned tourists with the call, "Wish You
The ad is part of the $15 million campaign paid for by BP to
help restore the region's image as tourist destination.
"Maybe they can go back to their states and tell them what the
misconception is," Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway said of the
lieutenant governors. "They think we're walking in ankle-deep