Oil spill ripples through Florida economy
By Michael Peltier
Wed Jun 9,2010
PENSACOLA BEACH, Florida (Reuters) – Gary Chernekoff doesn’t own a restaurant, isn’t a charter boat captain and doesn’t work for a hotel or resort.
But he is hurting.
A plumber by trade, the Pensacola, Florida resident expected to have a busy and profitable summer. He had three big jobs lined up — vacation homes being built in this summer tourist haven on the coast of the Florida Panhandle.
It was more than enough work for a one-man operation. But the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that began in April is now depriving Chernekoff of his source of income.
Unsure how deeply the spill would affect the market for $5,000-a-week time shares, investors stopped work on the projects. Chernekoff suddenly found himself without a job.
“I’m telling you, that was a kick in the pants,” said Chernekoff, who is trying to seek compensation from British energy giant BP Plc.
As state and BP officials respond to the biggest oil spill in U.S. history, Chernekoff’s predicament is echoed across Florida’s Gulf Coast. One economist calculated the state could lose up to 195,000 jobs and nearly $11 billion in economic activity from the prolonged impact of oil washing up on Florida shores.