WASHINGTON – United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today held a hearing to examine the effects of the Gulf Coast oil spill on small businesses. The hearing entitled “Impact of Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on Small Businesses” brought Coast Guard officials, technical assistance providers and BP America executives together to discuss the claims process for small businesses, and the ways businesses will be able to rebound from the problems this oil spill is causing.

“I called today’s hearing to ensure that businesses along the Gulf Coast are receiving the necessary response to claims made against BP,” Senator Landrieu said. “The businesses have been hit by four devastating hurricanes in the last five years, and many of them are still recovering. I want to be able to guarantee these businesses will be made whole again. Even though the Small Business Administration has made loans available to businesses, it is important for them to be able to continue their way of life, and this hearing sought to ensure that their cries for help were not falling on deaf ears.”

During the hearing, Senator Landrieu sought clarify collateral and other conditions related to small business disaster loans. Confirming through testimony from Small Business Administration (SBA) officials and Darryl Willis, Vice President for Resources at BP America, small businesses do have the ability to use claims against BP as collateral for small business loans under existing authority at the SBA. However, BP prefers for claimants to file directly with the company, as opposed to the SBA.

Senator Landrieu also reinforced the need for disaster loan relief for small businesses. This week, she introduced Senate Amendment 4179 to the Emergency Supplemental that would allow the SBA to offer interest relief on existing disaster loans from the 2005/2008 storms of up to $15,000. The amendment was met with bi-partisan support and was endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, New York Times and local governments in Louisiana. For more information on the amendment, please click here.

For more information on Senator Landrieu's "Oil Disaster Aide Package for Gulf Coast Businesses and Communities," please click here.