Louisiana Official On The Future Of Her Parish

President Obama toured a Louisiana beach in the LaFourche Parish last week, where he was joined by the parish president, Charlotte Randolph. Randolph talks to host Melissa Block about the meeting and the future of her parish.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Moving West now along the Gulf, to LaFourche Parish, that's where President Obama visited on Friday. We're joined by LaFourche Parish president, Charlotte Randolph. Welcome to the program.

Ms. CHARLOTTE RANDOLPH (President, LaFourche Parish): Thank you.

BLOCK: And I wish I could wish you a happy Memorial Day, but I'm sure it's feeling like anything but a holiday for you right now.

Ms. RANDOLPH: Well, it's certainly a somber mood and probably appropriate for this day.

BLOCK: On a typical Memorial Day weekend, the beaches in your parish would be, I would assume, thronged with tourists and folks going out in boats. What's it like this weekend?

Ms. RANDOLPH: Well, it's very ghost town like. The only people actually milling about are workers cleaning the beach. And normally there would be people there with their families, crabbing and playing in the surf. It's a different Memorial Day weekend this year for sure.

BLOCK: Yeah, what are hearing as you drive around and talk to people?

Ms. RANDOLPH: I'm concerned about a number of issues. Number one, the fishermen who have had their fishing grounds closed and are therefore unable to work. And secondarily, the issue about a suspension and a moratorium on offshore drilling. It's an issue I had the opportunity to address with President Obama, who was the decision maker in this.

BLOCK: You're talking about the six month moratorium on deep water exploration that he announced last week. These would be permits for new wells. You think this is a bad idea. What did you tell the president about that?

Ms. RANDOLPH: Well, we are already reeling from the effects of this oil spill. This action will potentially lay off tens of thousands of workers. It is our main industry. Fishing and oiling have coexisted for many years very happily until this event. And to take away that oil and gas income from not only LaFourche Parish, but the ramifications of this could be felt all across the country.

If those rigs leave the Gulf, we don't anticipate them coming back. So we're actually then increasingly our dependence on foreign oil, which is opposite of what they're trying to achieve now.

BLOCK: Interesting to me that even with the damage that you're seeing daily in your parish, you don't think it's a good idea to push the pause button on these new permits for deep water drilling.

Ms. RANDOLPH: Yes. While we have oil on the beach, we are still proponents of oil and gas drilling because it's been happening here for over 50 years. And this is one of the bad times. But it should not kill the industry.

BLOCK: Ms. Randolph, as you go around the parish talking to folks there, is there anything you can tell them to give them hope at a time when I know spirits are really low?

Ms. RANDOLPH: We have experienced four hurricanes in the last five years. And so, we've been through this drill together before. And to a person, I'll look around and know that we will weather this storm as well. I think people are sad because we are not who we are when we're not fishing and on the water. And we'll survive in a way that we'll just come back better than we were before.

BLOCK: I've been talking with Charlotte Randolph. She's the parish president in LaFourche Parish, Louisiana. Ms. Randolph, thanks very much for talking with us.

Ms. RANDOLPH: Thank you.

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