Florida Gulf Oil Spill Economic Recovery Task Force Holds First Meeting

Jun 10, 2010


Florida Governor Charlie Crist recently created the Gulf Oil Spill Economic Recovery Task Force (“Task Force”) to facilitate efforts by Florida business and industries in recovering lost business and revenues due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  The first meeting was held in Tallahassee on June 9, 2010. 

Task Force Chairman Chris Hart opened the meeting, noting that the Task Force will be providing monthly reports.  He intends to create working groups to focus on specific issues.

The Governor, in addressing the Task Force, stressed that Florida’s beaches are open and that its seafood is safe to eat.  However, state agencies will alert the public immediately should health risks arise.  The Governor also said that the Task Force will play a vital role in minimizing the impacts of the oil spill. 

The Task Force members listened to a Deepwater Horizon Response State Emergency Operations Center briefing.  It was noted that British Petroleum (“BP”) is capturing approximately 15 million barrels of oil per day.   Although light sheen is visible on the surface of the ocean and tar balls have washed ashore in Florida, the impact has not been overly damaging to the Florida environment at this time.

The Task Force heard presentations from state agencies that have an active role in the oil spill cleanup.  Mike Sole, Florida Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, discussed related operational activities, including the relief well process, which, if successful, should eliminate the discharge.  This project is expected to be completed no earlier than August 2010.

Mr. Sole noted that recovery costs are expected to be approximately $50 million.  The long-term impacts due to the damage have not been determined at this time.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Director Nick Wiley provided an update on impacts to local fish and wildlife.  Federal water closures have affected Florida fisherman directly.  However, there are many areas still open for fishing.   Conditions leading to unsafe fishing and swimming will be monitored daily and advisories will be issued if necessary.

Mr. Wiley noted that the federal government may soon pass an appropriations package that is expected to provide relief to the affected areas.  The Task Force will play a vital role in ensuring Florida receives its fair share.

Florida Division of Emergency Management (“DEM”) Director David Halstead reviewed the state’s emergency management structure.  The DEM is primarily engaged in coordinating response activities among state agencies, the federal government and BP for this response.

Paula Barnett, senior director of government and public affairs for BP, reviewed the claims handling process currently ongoing at her company.  Many Task Force members expressed concerns with the inadequacy of the amount of claims being paid.  Ms. Barnett noted this is a work in progress and BP will address the concerns raised.

The Small Business Administration loan program, which is available to businesses that cannot get a loan in the private sector, also was discussed, along with the Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program.  This is a short-term (12 month), no-interest loan program intended to bridge the gap between impacted parties receiving another loans.  Each loan is not to exceed $25,000.  The bridge loans do not require collateral.

The Task Force members discussed potential recommendations relating to the crisis.  It was stated that expenditures spent on advertising, etc are used to hire Florida businesses.   Noting that loans are not sufficient, several Task Force members stressed the need to quickly secure cash up front from BP to Florida businesses.  It was suggested that Florida lawmakers seek and acquire a large lump sum amount from BP for dispersal to Florida businesses. 

Chairman Hart noted that the first Task Force report will be released on Friday, June 11, 2010.

Further information about the Task Force can be accessed online at www.flgov.com/gulfrecoverytaskforce


Task Force members include:

  • Chris Hart, 41, of Tallahassee, is the interim director of Governor’s Office of Tourism, Trade, and Economic Development and also serves as the president and chief executive officer of Workforce Florida.  He will serve as chair of the Task Force.
  • Bill Stewart, 35, of Tallahassee is the deputy chief of staff to Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum.
  • Amber Hughes, 31, of Tallahassee, is the financial and economic advisor to Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.
  • Nelson Mongiovi, 50, of Tallahassee is the director of marketing and development for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
  • Lisa Echeverri, 44, of Tallahassee, is the executive director of the Department of Revenue.
  • David Halstead, 56, of Tallahassee, is the director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
  • Cynthia R. Lorenzo, 45, of Tallahassee, is the director of the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation.
  • Jerry McDaniel, 56, of Tallahassee, is director of the Governor’s Office of Policy and Budget.
  • George H. Sheldon, 63, of Tallahassee, is the Secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families.
  • Michael W. Sole, 46, is the Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and will serve as an ex officio Task Force member.
  • Eugene “Nick” Wiley, 48, of Tallahassee, is the executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
  • State Senator Alfred “Al” Lawson, 61, of Tallahassee, has represented District 6 in the State Senate since 2000.
  • State Senator Durell Peaden Jr., 64, of Crestview, has represented District 2 in the State Senate since 2000.
  • State Representative Michael Horner, 42, of Kissimmee, has represented District 79 in the Florida House of Representatives since 2008.
  • State Representative Jimmy Patronis, 38, of Panama City, has represented District 6 in the Florida House of Representatives since 2006.
  • Commissioner Mario Di Gennaro, 63, of Key Colony Beach, currently serves as commissioner on the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners.
  • Commissioner Grover Cleveland Robinson IV, 40, of Pensacola, currently serves as chairman and District 4 representative of the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners.  He has been the president of Grover Robinson and Associates Inc. since 1997.
  • Mayor Sarah “Sam” Seevers, 51, of Destin, is a past member on the Board of Directors for the Florida League of Cities and is the owner and editor of Life’s a Beach Publications LLC.
  • Dale A. Brill, Ph. D., 45, of Tallahassee, is the president of the Florida Chamber Foundation.
  • Jerry Cartwright, 64, of Pensacola, became state director of the Florida Small Business Development Center Network in 1989.
  • Carol B. Dover, 52, of Havana, is the president and chief executive officer of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.
  • Ted Forsgren, 60, of Tallahassee, has been the executive director of Coastal Conservation Association of Florida since 1985.
  • Frank F. Herhold, 70, of Fort Lauderdale, is the executive director of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida.
  • Taunya James, 34, of Apalachicola, is the president of the Franklin County Seafood Workers Association and runs the day-to-day operations of the family oystering business.
  • Dawn A. Moliterno, 39, of Miramar Beach, is the executive director of Beaches of South Walton County, a local tourist development council, and the president and chief executive officer of the Walton Area Chamber of Commerce and its foundation.
  • Chris Thompson, 52, of Tallahassee, is president and chief executive officer of Visit Florida, the official tourism marketing corporation for the State of Florida.
  • Robert F. Zales II, 57, of Panama City, owner and operator of Bob Zales Charters.
  • Oliver Darden, 65, of Pensacola, is the Chairman of the Gulf Coast African American Chamber of Commerce.



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