Viewpoint: April 20, 2011

On this first anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, we pause to remember the 11 men who lost their lives that day. We offer our thoughts and prayers to those 11 families who are now without a husband, a father, a son or a brother. For those families, April 20 will always be a dreaded day on the calendar.

April 20, 2010 also marks the day that families who depend on seafood and tourism had their worlds turned upside down. Our seafood is undergoing more stringent testing than ever and results continue to show that it is safe. Unfortunately, people in other parts of the country still have doubts.

And, while tourism is rebounding along the Gulf Coast, a new study from the Louisiana Secretary of State shows there is still a public relations battle to be fought. Nearly half of the people interviewed said they believed the oil spill's impacts in Louisiana were as bad, or worse than those of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

We face a great paradox here in Louisiana. We applaud the federal government's decision to reopen the Gulf to deepwater drilling, even as the cleanup continues from last year's oil spill. Our people and our economy depend on the oil and gas industries, but we must also remain vigilant and make sure that those doing the drilling have learned from last year's catastrophe and that safety is priority number one. History is a great teacher and we cannot allow those 11 lives that were lost to be lost in vain.