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CFO Sink Calls for State & Federal Actions to Protect Florida's Economy After Oil Spill

5/3/2010

CONTACT: Kevin Cate, (850) 413-2842

TALLAHASSEE – Florida CFO Alex Sink today called for important state and federal protections for Florida’s economy and environment to better prepare for the impact of the disastrous oil spill.  Florida’s $65 billion tourism industry and $2.2 billion seafood, aquaculture, and marine industries are facing significant risk, and the northwest region alone contributes $5.7 billion to the state’s economy.  CFO Sink also reiterated her long-standing opposition to near-beach drilling and called for a moratorium on any expanded drilling in the gulf.

“We must treat this like a Category 5 hurricane -- preparing our coastlines for the worst economic and environmental disaster imaginable and quickly ensuring that our businesses and citizens can get the help they will need,” said CFO Sink.  “This oil spill is the largest risk to Florida’s economy in recent memory. The impact on state and local governments will be enormous, at a time when we can least afford it— which is why I am pushing BP and the federal government for cash to help our state and coastal businesses weather this disaster.”

This morning CFO Sink was briefed at the Escambia County Emergency Operations Center and outlined her three proactive state and federal actions that must be taken in order to better protect Florida’s economy. During the briefing, CFO Sink pushed a BP representative for active, real-person support for her Consumer Services Call Center. Later today CFO Sink will receive a U.S. Coast Guard aerial tour of the oil spill followed by a briefing at the Deepwater Horizon oil spill Unified Command Center in Mobile, Alabama.

CFO Sink Called for the following State and Federal Actions:

• The Small Business Administration to Expedite Federal Disaster Loans & Temporarily Suspend Loan Repayments - SBA disaster loans provide immediate relief to businesses seeking assistance and ensure that affected areas are able to quickly resume commerce. Temporarily suspending loan repayments for Florida coastal businesses impacted by the oil spill will give small businesses assistance during their recovery.

• The Governor to Activate & Expand the Florida Small Business Emergency Loan Program & Activate ESF 18 - State activation of the Florida Small Business Emergency Loan Program provides short-term emergency funds to Florida’s small businesses. The program is designed to provide a source of expedient cash flow to businesses physically damaged during a major catastrophe to “bridge the gap” between the time disaster strikes and when a business has secured other resources. Expansion of this criteria to include businesses losing money from this disaster would free up funds and could serve as a lifeline in helping to resume commerce. Emergency Support Function (ESF) 18 is to coordinate local, state and federal agency actions that will provide immediate and short term assistance for the needs of business, industry, and economic stabilizations.

• The Department of Environmental Protection to Create an Oil Spill Environmental Task Force - Creation of an Oil Spill Environmental Task Force comprised of statewide and local scientific experts will help Florida better analyze and prepare for the environmental consequences of the oil spill.

CFO Sink outlined these proactive state and federal actions that must be taken in order to better protect Florida’s economy in letters linked here to SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills, Florida Governor Charlie Crist, and Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Sole, respectively.

Last week CFO Sink sent a letter to Carol Browner, the Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, addressing the urgent need for continued coordination to protect Florida from the disastrous oil spill threatening the state’s economy. CFO Sink also urged better prevention, including more frequent inspections of oil rigs, to insulate Florida from future spills originating in federal waters. 

As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, CFO Alex Sink oversees the Department of Financial Services.  A successful businesswoman with nearly three decades of experience in the private sector, Sink is serving her first term as Florida's CFO.  As CFO, Sink's priorities include using her business experience to cut wasteful government spending, cracking down on financial and insurance fraud and reforming the state government's contracting practices. CFO Sink also serves as the State Fire Marshal.