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STATE OFFICIALS VOICE DESPERATION OVER OIL SPILL…

Posted on 21 May 2010

Local and state officials in Louisiana voiced desperation on Thursday as their fears became far more tangible, with oil from the BP spill showing up on shores as tar balls, sheens and gooey slicks. At a news conference attended by visibly furious officials who had just taken a helicopter tour of the coast, Gov. Bobby Jindal said he was particularly worried that the heavy patches of oil appeared to have moved to the shore under the surface of the gulf. “This oil has traveled 110 miles to land on our coast, and we’re concerned that this is just the beginning,” Jindal said. “You didn’t see oil that close to our coast a day or two ago.”

*In Florida, Gov. Charlie Crist proclaimed a state of emergency for Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties Thursday, as the risk increased that oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill would reach the state’s shores. Crist cited reports that oil had been caught up in the loop current, which sweeps around the Florida peninsula, saying this created a “potential threat to additional counties bordering the Gulf and Atlantic seaboard.” The extent of the threat to South Florida remains unclear. Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said late Thursday afternoon that “only a small amount” of oil had entered the loop current. But she was unable to quantify it, and she acknowledged that an unknown amount of oil remained under the surface. Whether any oil caught in the current will end up on beaches and mangrove coasts in the Keys and southeast Florida is unknown.

*Meeting cancellations as a result of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill are growing at hotels along the coast, though hoteliers said hype more than actual effects is causing the cancellations, according to a report released this week by The Knowland Group. Of 50 hotels surveyed, 42% said they are seeing group cancellations as a result of the spill. The firm conducted a similar survey earlier this month in which 35% of hotels reported cancellations. More than half the hotels surveyed, however, blamed the media attention for the cancellations. The spill’s greatest impact is on short-term meetings. Coastal hotels said they are also seeing an uptick in transient traffic from government, oil industry and media guests in connection with the spill.

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