MANATEE — Gov. Charlie Crist on Friday dropped the state of emergency for Manatee and Sarasota counties declared in May during the early weeks of the disastrous oil spill at BP’s Deepwater Horizon well.
To date, no oil from the spill has been detected on beaches in Manatee or Sarasota.
At the same time, Crist extended his state of emergency declaration for seven Florida counties most affected by the spill.
The governor’s declaration was amended to include only Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf and Franklin. Besides Manatee and Sarasota, 10 other counties were dropped from the list.
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A statement from the governor’s office said, “While we are grateful the Deepwater Horizon well stopped gushing oil more than a month ago, counties in northwest Florida hardest hit by oil continue to see hotel and travel cancellations. These counties still need our assistance to strengthen their economies, and we must be wise and prudent to do so.”
The governor said he remained committed to helping individuals, businesses and local governments recoup any economic losses they experienced, whether due to oil in the Gulf of Mexico coming ashore, or the public’s misperceptions about the extent of its impact.
Local officials were relieved that the immediate danger here and in the rest of southwest Florida had passed, they said.
But Charlie Hunsicker, Manatee County director of natural resources, expressed concern about the amount of oil still dispersed in undersea waters of the northern Gulf.
“The unknown impacts of this oil product on the food web and the long-term effects upon sustainable commercial and recreational fisheries in the Gulf must be better understood,” he said. “Adequate funding for scientific research of these questions should remain a concern with all Floridians. I hope BP stands ready to answer the call for research dollars for the scientific community to better understand these potential long-term effects.”