Shelby Wants More BP Money for Alabama
By Patrick O’Connor
BP Plc. is back in the crosshairs on Capitol Hill.
Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, a Republican, asked the oil giant on Monday to provide the same compensation to his state that it has ponied up for Louisiana in the wake of this year’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Mr. Shelby’s interest was piqued by an announcement that BP would pay $48 million to protect and market Louisiana’s seafood industry and an additional $30 million to bolster tourism in the state. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, also a Republican, announced the commitment earlier this month. Mr. Shelby, in a letter to BP Chief Executive Officer Robert Dudley, asked the company to make “a similar payment” on behalf of Alabama.
“The Gulf of Mexico oil spill has brought devastation to Alabama’s Gulf Coast, and in particular has severely hurt our fisheries and tourism industries,” Mr. Shelby wrote in a letter dated Monday.
In a statement, BP said: “We will respond directly to the senator.”
The fishing industry accounts for more than 18,000 jobs in Alabama and accounts for more than $800 million in annual sales, Mr. Shelby wrote. Tourism generates an additional $2.3 billion in the state’s Gulf Coast, the senator said, estimating the loss of revenue in the aftermath of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill to be somewhere between $850 million and $1 billion.
“The damages caused by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill could last years as we are faced with a potentially severe decline in fisheries stock and a negative media image of our beaches,” Mr. Shelby wrote. “BP needs to commit to Alabama’s recovery by funding efforts to revitalize our state’s tourism and fisheries industries.”