Posted by: reefrescue | June 5, 2010

Crist asks BP for $100 million for oil-spill research

Gov. Charlie Crist has sent a letter to BP President Lamar McKay, imploring the company to “immediately commit” $100 million for the Florida Institute of Oceanography to create an independent, science-based clearinghouse to review and monitor data and technologies to deal with the oil spill.

“If we are to adequately protect Florida’s economy and environment, we must act in a swift and organized manner to monitor, evaluate, and respond to the constantly changing conditions,” Crist wrote Thursday. “The FIO team has advised me that they can begin deployment of the monitoring system immediately.”

The team would try to quickly answer where is the oil being taken by currents, and how it is behaving on and below the surface and on shore. The money would pay for salaries, ships, aircraft, unmanned submarines with cameras, sensors and other equipment like moored meters, observation platforms and drifting buoys.

Crist acknowledged that the company had said it wanted to appoint an advisory group to assess the various proposals for scientific monitoring of the effects of the spill. But, the vetting process can’t go on long, Crist said, because the damage is starting.

“Florida’s interests are urgent and unique,” Crist said. “Our state represents a substantial portion of the marine recreational fishing in America. Our wide Gulf shelf supports a multi-billion fishing industry, and the Florida keys are a national marine sanctuary. The potential impact of the spill on our economy, habitat, and coastal communities demands that our state have a leadership role in the response.”

The FIO is a collaboration of 21 universities and other marine science organizations throughout Florida and is based at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Scientists there have complained openly about the lack and quality of information being released by BP and the government.

On the other hand, BP CEO Tony Hayward last week disputed the Florida scientists’ findings that a large underwater plume of oil existed off the west coast of the state. U.S. and state government officials also have not endorsed the scientists’ findings.

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