Baton Rouge (FNS)-Facing both a massive oil slick from a sunken offshore drilling platform and a second year of declining tourism revenues along the Louisiana Gulf Coast caused by high gas prices, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal today introduced a new tourism promotion that he reports is going to “…make lemons into lemonade”.
Jindal, flanked by British Petroleum’s Director of Marketing Dick Timoneous and the Executive Director of the Louisiana State Tourism Board, Jenna Talia, announced that the “All The Oil You Can Carry Festival” would officially commence today just east of New Orleans, and last at least through the month of May.
According to Jindal, “Louisiana produces 30 percent to 40 percent of the nation’s oil and gas off our coast. It is certainly good for our economy…It is also good for the nation…We’re sending tens of billions of dollars overseas, often to countries who are not friendly to us…this is one of the reasons we’ve got such a large trade deficit…and today, we’re doing something about it.”
Executive Director Talia told the assembled journalists that Louisiana Highway 90 will be closed at Fort Macomb for the weekend so that families can fan out across The Rigolets and gather their own free samples of BP oil.
“It’s going to be a great event” Talia said, “we have vendors and craftspeople setting up on the bridge who will be selling lots of gear so that families can scoop the oil up and take it home. We’ll also be selling lots of local food, there’s local music…and of course, the bar will be open.”
Members of the public will be able to rent boats or launch their own from any of several convenient locations nearby.
“In this time of economic challenges, we here at BP are happy to provide free samples of our product to the public” Timoneous was quoted as saying. “This oil is perfectly suitable for home heating use, and we would encourage members of the public to gather just as much as they can carry and take it with them.”
BP is promoting the event as the largest giveaway of free product in the company’s history; the current estimate is that more than 11 million free gallons of oil will be distributed by the end of next month.
Boaters are encouraged to participate, and the Alligator Bend coastline, just to the southeast of the Fort, promises particularly rich opportunities for “gathering samples”, as Mr. Timoneous put it.
CSX Railroad is also involved in the festivities, and they promise to close their track across The Rigolets so that those without boats can hike in and gather oil directly from the water at the Rigolets Pass Bridge.
“As a Member of Congress I introduced the Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act of 2006, which was intended to provide more opportunities for Americans to access the oil off our Continental Shelf”, Governor Jindal told the reporters, “and with this cooperative effort in direct-to-consumer distribution between BP and the State of Louisiana that vision has finally been realized. Laissez les bon temps roulez!”
Ms. Talia continued the press availability by reminding members of the public that “Although there are no hotels in the immediate area, there is lots of new open land made available since Hurricane Katrina that can be used for camping…and if you’re driving a diesel rig, you can probably grab a shovel and fill up right here at the Fort….and even take some home besides.”
She also noted that the opportunities to celebrate weren’t limited to just this one area: “It’s entirely possible that the Festival will be expanded to include much of Louisiana’s coastline before the month is out, and we would encourage tourists to follow our website for additional announcements.”
She ended the event by asking what is probably going to be the question of the year for Louisianans: “What could possibly be better for this State’s tourism industry than millions of gallons of free oil laying around, just waiting to be picked up by anyone who wants it?”