Ed. Note: For more information on federal response resources, volunteer opportunities, and assistance for those in affected areas visit WhiteHouse.gov/Deepwater-BP-Oil-Spill.
Below is the latest in the ongoing Administration-wide response provided by the Joint Information Center.
Heidi Avery is White House Deputy Homeland Security Advisor
The Ongoing Administration-Wide Response to the Deepwater BP Oil Spill
Prepared by the Joint Information Center
UPDATED June 1, 2010 7 PM
In the Past 24 Hours
EPA Administrator Meets with Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board
Administrator Jackson continued her fourth trip to the Gulf Coast, joining representatives from NOAA to meet with the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board today to discuss the impacts of the BP oil spill on the commercial seafood industry. She also met with responders and officials overseeing shoreline cleanup work in Houma, La., to discuss vital marsh assessment and cleanup activities.
Admiral Allen Provides Operational Update for Unified Area Command
National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen delivered the first of his daily briefings to inform the American public and answer questions on the progress of the administration-wide response to the BP oil spill at the Port of New Orleans. A transcript is available here.
Attorney General Holder Makes Initial Visit to the Gulf Coast
Attorney General Eric Holder visited Louisiana to meet with personnel working to mitigate the spill’s impacts on vital shorelines and coordinate the administration’s legal response to the BP oil spill. Department of Justice representatives also met with Attorneys General and U.S. Attorneys for the states and districts whose coastlines and citizens have been impacted by oil from the spill.
Attorney General Holder said that while stopping the leak, containing and cleaning up the oil, and helping people in the region who have suffered financial loss remains the government’s top priority, “we must also ensure that anyone found responsible for this spill is held accountable. That means enforcing the appropriate civil—and if warranted, criminal—authorities to the full extent of the law.”
Since the early stages of the response efforts, Justice Department attorneys have been in the Gulf to gather facts—including reviewing the Clean Water Act, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the Migratory Bird Treaty and Endangered Species Acts, and other criminal statutes.
Gulf Fishing Restrictions Expanded; More than 68 Percent Remains Open
NOAA has extended the northern and southern boundaries of the closed fishing area in the Gulf of Mexico to include portions of the slick moving into waters off eastern Alabama and the western tip of the Florida panhandle, as well as some large patches of sheen moving onto the west Florida shelf and southward to Cuban waters—this federal closure does not apply to any state waters. Closing fishing in these areas is a precautionary measure to ensure that seafood from the Gulf will remain safe for consumers.
The closed area now represents 75,920 square miles, which is slightly more than 31 percent of Gulf of Mexico federal waters. This leaves more than 68 percent of Gulf federal waters available for fishing. Details can be found at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov.
Property Damage Claims Processed
The administration will continue to hold the responsible parties accountable for repairing the damage, and repaying Americans who’ve suffered a financial loss as a result of the BP oil spill. BP reports that 31,010 claims have been opened, from which $39.4 million have been disbursed. No claims have been denied to date. There are more than 496 claims adjusters on the ground. To file a claim, visit www.bp.com/claims or call BP’s helpline at 1-800-440-0858. Those who have already pursued the BP claims process and are not satisfied with BP’s resolution can call the Coast Guard at (800) 280-7118.
SBA Economic Injury Assistance Loans Approved for Louisiana
The Small Business Administration has approved 33 economic injury assistance loans to date, totaling $1,192,300, for small businesses in Louisiana impacted by the BP oil spill. Additionally, the agency has granted deferments on 158 existing SBA disaster loans in the Gulf Coast region. For information on assistance loans for affected businesses, visit the SBA’s Web site at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance, call (800) 659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the hearing impaired), or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOAA, Coast Guard and EPA Join St. Tammany Parish Community Forum
Representatives from NOAA, the Coast Guard and the EPA participated today in a community forum in St. Tammany Parish, La.—organized by Sea Grant and Louisiana State University. Sea Grant is a nationwide network, administered by NOAA, comprised of 32 university-based programs that work with coastal communities.