Jul 8, 2010 11:27 AM by Melissa Canone
GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) - Gov. Haley Barbour has announced a
yearlong economic impact study to examine the effects of the
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Barbour said Wednesday that participants will include the state
College Board, Departments of Employment Security, Environmental
Quality and Marine Resources, Mississippi Development Authority,
the Department of Revenue and the Gulf Coast Business Council.
The $600,000 study will be funded equally by BP and anticipated
grant money from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
"We need a clear grasp on how this oil spill will impact the
State of Mississippi and local communities for years to come,"
Barbour said in a statement. "We want a picture of exactly how
this spill will effect Mississippi businesses, families and
communities. This study will help as state leaders, agencies and
local governments create long-term coastal restoration plans."
Barbour said the study will collect and analyze key economic
indicators including employment data, tax revenues and
socio-economic information. This data would be used by the team to
formulate economic forecasts and the potential impact of the spill
on the state's economy.
Meanwhile, more oil encroachment Wednesday forced state
officials to close parts of the beach in Hancock County.
"It's a lot of tar balls, a lot of small ones on the beach in
Waveland, Bay St. Louis and unincorporated areas near the Silver
Slipper casino," said Brian Adam, director of Hancock County
In addition, nearly 69 miles of shoreline in Harrison and
Jackson counties had been touched by oil as of Wednesday, according
to the Joint Information Command in Mobile, Ala.
Officials said dense coverage of tar balls and tar patties made
beach access difficult.
Cleanup is expected to take two to three days, they said in a
Beach advisories also remained in effect for Jackson and
MDEQ officials said more tar balls were scattered around the
barrier islands. They continued to urge people to avoid contact
with oil-related materials such as tar balls and tar mats and stay
out of the water if these materials are visible.
In Hancock County, MDEQ and local officials said tar mats and
patties were washing in from west of the Long Beach Harbor into the
edge of Pass Christian late Wednesday night.
Harrison County Emergency Manager Rupert Lacy told the Sun
Herald that the material was in large mats, floating near the
bottom, and breaking up and washing onto the beach in smaller
Lacy said about 300 cleanup workers out were working overnight,
scooping up the material.
Mayor Billy Skellie said the largest tar patties, those the size
of school buses, are out in the water and breaking up before they
reach the beach.
Also Wednesday, BP officials said there are about 800 Vessels of
Opportunity employed in coastal Mississippi in the program that
uses privately owned boats for skimming, boom work and
transportation, according to BP officials.
The program is newly "targeted at using local commercial and
charter fishing vessels and crews to respond to the oil spill and
minimize the impact on the local community and people," said
Judith Luberski, BP vice president and lead coordinator of the
Vessels of Opportunity Program.