WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Ranking Member Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) prodded witnesses from BP, the Coast Guard, and the Small Business Administration (SBA) about their lackluster collective response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico at a committee hearing.  During the hearing today, Senator Snowe ascertained the extent of each party’s efforts to clean up the spill and respond to the 25,000 current claims from small businesses and individuals across the Gulf region.

“I am frankly appalled and outraged that there has not been a more aggressive attempt by the federal government to create and implement solutions to the ongoing calamity in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Senator Snowe, who also serves as Ranking Member of Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard.  “That it has taken more than a month to get an accurate assessment of the amount of oil spilled is emblematic of the complete lack of urgency on the part of the Administration in responding to this crisis.”

Senator Snowe also discussed BP’s lack of responsiveness and convoluted process regarding claims filed by individuals and small businesses.  To date, over 25,000 claims have been filed, of which BP has only responded to 10,000.

“In many cases, small businesses could wait up to half a year before they see any compensation for recovery,” Senator Snowe continued, asking, “What small business can sustain six months of no income, while they wait to recover damages for an egregious wrong for which they bear no responsibility?  The SBA and the federal government must understand and respond to the level of urgency involved given that people’s jobs, livelihoods, and businesses are literally at stake.”

Senator Snowe concluded, “It is paramount that, over the coming months, we continue to ramp up the pressure on BP and the involved federal agencies – who are so far all failing the people, small businesses, and communities that have been devastated by this disaster.  We cannot be satisfied until the oil ceases to flow, until wildlife and coastlines are no longer drenched in crude, and until BP compensates the fishermen, restaurateurs, innkeepers, and the other small businessmen and women of the Gulf Coast.”