Today President Barack Obama sent Congress a legislative package aimed to speed assistance to people affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil dpill. In addition, his plan calls for strengthening and updating the oil spill liability system in order to better respond to future such events.
Carol Browner, assistant to the President for energy and climate change, said in a press conference this morning that since the initial explosion on the drilling rig occurred, the federal government has launched an all-hands-on-deck response.
"The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster which can seriously damage the economy and environment of our Gulf states,” she said. "It could jeopardize the livelihoods of thousands of Americans who live throughout the Gulf region.”
The plan proposed by Obama has a slated price tag of $118 million. Browner said BP will be paying for all costs of stopping the spill and cleaning it up. "The federal government will not relent in receiving reimbursement for the costs incurred by the oil spill.”
To aid residents of the Gulf, Melody Barnes, assistant to the President and director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, says the government intends to set up a series of one-stop assistance centers, which will provide multiple types of assistance.
"A primary concern to the President is providing necessary assistance to families and individuals who are being impacted by the oil spill,” Barnes said.
Assistance to Gulf individuals and businesses include:
Oil Spill Unemployment Assistance: A new program of unemployment assistance to workers who are unemployed as a result of a spill of national significance. It would provide up to 26 weeks of benefits to the self-employed, as well as other workers ineligible for regular unemployment compensation. This includes self-employed workers, which is particularly important to the commercial and charter fishermen along the Gulf Coast who may lose wages because of the spill.
Nutrition Assistance: This proposal would enable those impacted by a spill of national significance who might not ordinarily qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to become eligible for the program. In addition, the proposal would enable the Department of Agriculture to provide food directly to states to distribute to those who are in need.
Employment Assistance: This proposal would temporarily expand the service capacity of Workforce Investment Act training and employment programs at the state and local levels by providing funding assistance in response to large, unexpected economic events which cause significant job losses. These funds can provide resources to states and local workforce investment boards to quickly reemploy laid-off workers by offering training to increase occupational skills.
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