Foster joins mayors from around the country in tour of BP oil disaster area

Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster at a New Orleans seafood restaurant Tuesday with (from left): New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu; Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden; USCM Executive Director Tom Cochran; Denton, Texas Mayor Mark Burroughts; USCM President Elizabeth Kautz; Clearwater, Fla. Mayor Frank Hibbard; USCM staff member Gordan Gant; and Houston Mayor Annise Parker.

Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster at a New Orleans seafood restaurant Tuesday with (from left): New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu; Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden; USCM Executive Director Tom Cochran; Denton, Texas Mayor Mark Burroughts; USCM President Elizabeth Kautz; Clearwater, Fla. Mayor Frank Hibbard; USCM staff member Gordan Gant; and Houston Mayor Annise Parker.

The president of The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), Mayor Elizabeth Kautz (of Burnsville, Minnesota), along with USCM second vice president, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, and USCM CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran, led the nation’s mayors on a mission Tuesday to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast to stand in solidarity with New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the mayors of the region impacted by the British Petroleum (BP) oil disaster, and to push Washington and BP to accept the recommendations adopted last week at the 78th annual meeting of USCM on the oil disaster.
Accompanying Kautz on the mission were several mayors from cities across the country, including Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster. Other mayors included those from: Santa Barbara; Houston, Denton and Pasadena (TX), Baton Rouge, Lake Charles and Lafitte (LA), Biloxi and Prentiss (MS), Mobile (AL), Clearwater and Fort Myers (FL), and Everett (MA), as well as officials of the municipal leagues of the Gulf Coast states.
The mayors began the day with a bus trip to Lafitte, Louisiana, with remarks from Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner and a briefing from US Coast Guard Incident Commander Captain Roger Laferriere at the Emergency Operations Center.
Following the briefing, the mayors toured the oil-soiled marshes in boats with Louisiana fishermen. The day then concluded with a late seafood lunch and press conference at Bon Ton Café in New Orleans.
“The nation’s mayors are here today to stand together in solidarity with our colleagues as we have with other disasters– 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina– and to offer our support to the people of the Gulf region,” said Kautz. “We know better than anyone else what mayors go through, and we applaud the leadership of the mayors of the affected areas. We have gained today a better understanding of the true impact of the oil well disaster on the people, the environment, and the culture here, and Mayor Landrieu has made us even more determined to put the full force of our organization behind the national effort to do what must be done for all the cities and towns that have been, and will be, affected.”
Kautz also discussed oil and gas revenue sharing, as established by the 2006 Domenici-Landrieu Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, and offered support for federal revenues to be directed to Gulf states immediately instead of in 2017. “Action on this measure is long overdue. We ask Congress and the administration to support accelerated revenue sharing without delay,” said Kautz.
Nutter, who is the Conference’s second VP, explained why he traveled from the East Coast to get a first-hand look at the disaster. “If a disaster of major proportions struck Philadelphia, I would want the mayors of the nation to come to my aid,” he said. “So, I wanted to personally let my fellow mayors of the Gulf Coast know that the nation’s mayors support them. We must also understand that this is a major national disaster, not simply a disaster for the Gulf region. What happens to one of us happens to all of us and we must band together, especially in times of great challenge.”
Last week during The Conference of Mayors’ Annual Meeting in Oklahoma City, mayors passed a resolution on the oil disaster calling for the Obama Administration to establish a special task force of appropriate senior federal officials, including a Gulf Oil Disaster commander, to direct the actions of all the federal agencies involved, to provide timely and updated information to mayors and local officials on mitigation efforts, and to ensure that lead federal agencies are coordinating closely with cities and local governments in all phases of the national response.
“The oil spill is a national tragedy that requires a national response, so I am proud to stand in solidarity with mayors from across the country, particularly Gulf Coast mayors, as we face this daunting challenge,” Landrieu said. “The disaster threatens our coast and environment, our fisheries that feed the nation, and our unique culture that is the highlight of New Orleans’s tourism industry. After Hurricane Katrina, we were grateful to have the support and assistance of cities across the country, and we need the same unity of purpose to meet these new challenges.”

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