As oil continues to gush into the Gulf, Mississippi offers $75 gas cards to tourists.

Downplaying the BP disaster, Gov. Barbour encourages tourists to ‘enjoy the beach’ as dead dolphins wash ashore

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) has been an outlier amongst Gulf Coast governors, downplaying the BP oil spill instead of working to mitigate the disaster and rethinking the wisdom of offshore drilling.  TP has the story in this twin repost.

1)  Mississippi officials are encouraging tourists to use more oil, offering people gas cards if they come to the region:

Gov. Haley Barbour said that the Mississippi Gulf Coast is open for business, despite the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

In an effort to encourage tourism, Mississippi Gulf Coast officials are offering $75 gas cards for those who book a two-night stay at one of the participating hotels or resorts listed online at Resident can also sign up online for a chance to win one of four getaway packages.

Hotel room cancellations are above 50 percent right now, even though the Mississippi beaches are clear of oil, said Linda Hornsby, director of the Hotel and Lodging Association.

State tourism officials are planning to pressure BP to “pay $7.5 million a month for a national advertising campaign” in the aftermath of the oil spill. While encouraging tourism to the region is important, it’s also necessary to be honest about the environmental damage of the spill, and as questions arise about U.S. dependency on oil, offering gas cards might not be the best idea.

2)  Barbour told radio host Bill Bennett last week that if the spill comes ashore, “it will have some effect,” but that “it isn’t anything like Exxon Valdez.” Later that day, on Fox News, Barbour suggested the oil had “turned around” and wouldn’t be “another Valdez situation.” And last Wednesday, Barbour said, “Some in the news media keep forcing this on the public as the equivalent of Exxon Valdez. Well, the difference is just enormous.”

He’s right. New analysis shows the spill is “already far larger” than the Exxon Valdez crash, and that it only takes a “few days, [or] at most a week” for the BP spill to release as much oil as the Valdez did. However, Barbour continues to try to wish away the spill, saying it could have a “minimal impact” on his state, and comparing it to a harmless gasoline sheen found around motor boats:

He told The Associated Press the oil spill could be disastrous for Mississippi’s coastal economy. Then he added: “But it’s just as possible that what happens here will be manageable and of moderate and even minimal impact.”

Oil has not started washing up on shore in any large quantities, and Barbour likened much of the spill to the gasoline sheen commonly found around ski boats.

“We don’t wash our face in it, but it doesn’t stop us from jumping off the boat to ski,” Barbour said.

At a press conference, Barbour encouraged potential visitors to “[c]ome on down here and play golf, enjoy the beach, catch a fish.” But it may be hard to enjoy a beach covered in tar balls and dead fish. Here’s something tourists might find if they visit Mississippi’s beaches:


Barbour is the chairman of the Republican Governors Association (RGA) and as the AP notes, “oil companies have contributed $51,350 to RGA” since Barbour took over. BP America gave the RGA $10,000 in 2003, the first year Barbour ran for governor, and while “[i]ts’ not possible to trace that donation directly to Barbour,” his campaign received about $2 million from the RGA that year.

17 Responses to As oil continues to gush into the Gulf, Mississippi offers $75 gas cards to tourists.

  1. That’s an interesting concept, giving away gasoline to battle the effect of an oil spill! In the meantime, BP tells science: no measurements of oil flow at disaster site allowed: ‘not relevant, and may distract’:

  2. Raul M. says:

    One measurement might be the effects to those who have their boats
    at the epicenter rounding up batches to burn. Constant whiffing of
    those volatile organics must have some effects.
    That is another reason to set out multiple bouye type wick burners
    that would passivly collect and let burn the oil without much direct
    involvement of the multiple boaters. Coast Guard person has health
    ins. to cover involvement, but it might be something that they
    don’t really know how to deal with yet.

  3. Anne says:

    Haley Barbour is barbaric on many levels.

    He’s a hypocrite: often preaching against less government intervention and railing against government spending, he’s only too happy to take federal disaster assistance after some storms hit Mississippi in early May — and he’s even happier to take federal money for coastal fishermen whose livelihoods are threatened by the massive oil release, announcing that the Small Business Administration is offering fishermen $2 M loans at a low, 4% interest.

    And now he’s getting ready to pull the same crap so prevalent in the Bush v. Gore campaign, ready to make a strong push FOR the right to carry semi-automatic guns whose only real purpose is to kill humans, pushing for second amendment rights and telling an NRA gun rally crowd that so-called conservatives “are not willing to wait till 2012 to retake the political control of the country.”—Other-NRA-Convention-Speakers-Target-Washington-and-Midterm-Elections-1273982458/

    His big DC lobbying firm fought hard for big tobacco.

    It would be no surprise to see Barbour make a run for president in 2012. Maybe we’ll see a Barbour/Palin ticket. They seem to like each other. They definitely deserve one another.

  4. Mark says:

    The front page headline in the Boston Globe today is “A cooling trend”

    Subtitle – “… shows how hard climate consensus will be.”

    Quoting Lindzen and Pielke versus Kerry Emanuel. That’s it, the only three “scientists” quoted in the article. No mention of the recent letter from 255 scientists. But Emanuel is accused of opportunism, trotting out the idea that Emanuel’s science is tainted by personal gain, several places in the article.

    First quote is from Lindzen saying “we should go back to dealing with real science and real environmental problems…”

    The article could easily have been written by the American Petroleum Institute.

  5. Chris Dudley says:

    There is some encouraging news coming from form a research vessel in the Gulf. They have discovered that oxygen is disappearing in deep underwater plumes of oil from the spill:

    While this poses a danger of hypoxia (lack of dissolved oxygen) which already afflicts the Gulf owing to nitrogen load from the Mississippi River, it also means that the oil is being consumed and broken down. Supplying oxygen at depth, perhaps by sinking sodium percarbonate (a solid oxygen source that is an ingredient in OxyClean) into the plumes may allow a rapid cleanup of the submerged portion of this spill which may be the largest portion of the spilled oil.

  6. Lou Grinzo says:

    Mark: “The article could easily have been written by the American Petroleum Institute.”

    And you conclude it wasn’t… why, exactly?

  7. Mark says:

    Lou – The article certainly seems to have been written by someone bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry. This is a carefully crafted article which is only one part of a campaign designed by some of the best minds in the PR industry to undercut public support for taking action on climate change.

    Pay no mind to the gusher of oil in the gulf, or the recent Massey coal mine disaster, or any of the other recent environmental disasters…

    They would rather have us worrying about the ethics of those government funded scientists who are warning about the dire effects of fossil fuel consumption.

  8. Earth to Boston Globe:

    NASA: Jan-Apr 2010 warmest Jan-Apr ever, both on land (, +0.93C) and land+ocean (, +0.74C)

    NASA: April 2010 hottest ever worldwide, both on land (, +0,86C), and on land+ocean (, +0,73C)

  9. A Siegel says:

    Note how this deal is structured …

    1. Looks likely that you have to pay a higher price for the hotels than would be the case with other booking paths. It is a false teaser.

    2. Not a gas card, but just for one company: Kangaroo Express.

  10. Bill Waterhouse says:

    Reality check – Why is it that we allow oil companies to control the response to big ocean oil spills? We don’t allow airlines to control responses to airplane crashes. Where else does the perpetrator of a manmade disaster get to call the shots for the aftermath? It’s becoming all too clear that BP is just guessing about what to do next. BP’s goal is to minimize its own liability, not protection of the ocean ecosystem. It’s a travesty that only one scientific vessel is out in the Gulf monitoring the effects of the oil and the dispersants. Of course BP and Gov. Barbour would prefer to have no reports of impacts.

  11. mike roddy says:

    When the oil goblets wash up on the beaches, Barbour will be on the scene showing tourists how to use them to fuel their barbeques, and explaining that slightly fetid dolphins that have washed up on the beaches taste better well done.

    You expect this kind of thing from Confederates. More shocking is the Boston Globe- I had no idea that they could get away with that kind of reporting in a city like Boston.

  12. Wit's End says:

    Bill Waterhouse, EXACTLY! It’s utterly insane that the EPA is allowing BP to use toxic dispersants untested in deep waters – obviously to hide the extent of the disaster for as long as possible.

    And this is also an outrage, (from the NYT):

    “The Pelican mission is due to end Sunday, but the scientists are seeking federal support to resume it soon.

    ‘This is a new type of event, and it’s critically important that we really understand it, because of the incredible number of oil platforms not only in the Gulf of Mexico but all over the world now,” Dr. Highsmith said. “We need to know what these events are like, and what their outcomes can be, and what can be done to deal with the next one.’”

    These scientists should be given funding immediately, and BP should be forced to allow them access to any techniques and to pursue any lines of inquiry.

    Our government shouldn’t allow them any more secrecy!

  13. David B. Benson says:

    Some success in slowing the oil leak, finally:

  14. Karen S. says:

    Haley Barbour would drive a stake through his mother’s heart if he thought there was money in there.

  15. Chris Dudley says:

    NPR just reported that BP’s Robert Dudley is saying that BP refuses to clean up the oil that is below the sea surface. This may well be most of the oil they have spilled. Feeding oxygen to this subsurface oil would break it down through bacterial action and protect the Gulf ecosystems. No wonder Russia ran him out on a rail. Seems like he’s a piece of work.

  16. Rick Covert says:

    Where’s a lyre when you need one.