+ The Obama Administration is pressing BP to continue with its efforts to drill a relief well.
+ What remains of the oil could threaten sea life that dwells in the surf.
+ The Obama family paid a weekend visit to the panhandle, where the president heard from fishermen and business owners and sought to show the world that the Gulf of Mexico is safe for swimming (more after the jump).
+ A new poll shows support for a constitutional ban on offshore drilling may have fallen slightly among Floridians (more after the jump).
+ Nearly five years after the storm, the oil spill may have hampered still-ongoing efforts to recover from Hurricane Katrina.
+ We may not see a federal oil spill/energy bill until after the November elections.
Opinion shifts on drilling ban
Support appears to be waning among Floridians for a constitutional ban on offshore drilling.
A new poll conducted for the St. Petersburg Times, Miami Herald, Bay News 9 and Central Florida News 13 shows 41 percent of Florida voters support a ban on offshore drilling, while 49 percent oppose the idea. In May, 44 percent supported the ban and 44 percent opposed.
Support has trailed off chiefly in the North Florida/Panhandle area, which has endured the effects of the oil disaster. In May, 52 percent of voters in the region, many of them Republican, supported a ban; now only 36 percent do.
There may have been a spike in opposition to drilling between the two polls when the spill was at its worst, but this June 9 Quinnipiac poll, which found that voters opposed offshore drilling 51-42 (a 48-point swing), wasn’t asking about a constitutional ban.
Obama: Gulf seafood is safe
That may have been the most controversial part of his message that the Gulf Coast is “open for business.”
Here he is in his own words:
Members of some fishing communities disagreed, with fishermen from other gulf states arriving on buses to raise their concerns.
Fishing families are coming on buses from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, hoping America will hear their unified message. “We do not believe this crisis is over. We believe that Gulf and inland waters have been prematurely re-opened to fishing. Fishermen do not want to lose our credibility or deliver contaminated seafood to market and make people sick.
It is time that government step up and protect us, our Gulf and the American public from further, and possibly irreversible, harm,” said Kathy Birren, a Commercial Fisher from Hernando Beach, Florida. But the President and our state officials are trying to declare an end to it.
In interviews given when this state’s fisheries reopened, both Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services spokesman Terrance MacElroy and a spokesman for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection emphasized that the seafood from those waters is safe and that officials were reopening fisheries only “with an abundance of caution,” for exactly the reasons Birren describes.
The White House will be hosting an online chat about gulf seafood at 2 p.m. today.