Fighting for Wiregrass peanuts

Published 9:23 pm Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tuesday, I was able to speak directly to Secretary Ray LaHood and express my concerns about the Department of Transportation’s proposed ban on peanut distribution on commercial airline flights, and the potential impact on the Second District.

During the call, Secretary LaHood assured me that changes to current policy contained in the proposed rule were not set in stone and that the department encouraged the general public to offer comment on any changes. Additionally, the DOT would first need to conduct a study on the need for a peanut ban before implementing any change to current policy as mandated by Congress in 1999, the last time such peanut restrictions aboard airplanes were seriously considered.

The call with Secretary LaHood was both productive and informative. I am relieved that the DOT has not finalized any plans and I hope they will continue to listen to the concerns of Members of Congress and the general public before moving forward with a dramatic change in current policy.

In fact, Congressional Quarterly took notice on Monday, saying, “The response was immediate from two House Democrats, Sanford D. Bishop Jr. , whose southwest Georgia district produces more than a quarter of the nation’s peanuts, and Bobby Bright , who represents the nation’s second-biggest peanut producing region, around Montgomery, Ala.”

I strongly encourage citizens who share my concerns to visit DOT’s website and offer comments on the proposed peanut ban at

Oil Spill Update

Last week, I met with Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar to discuss the potential economic impact of the deepwater drilling moratorium. Regardless of your feelings on the moratorium, most will agree that any pause in drilling should last only as long as necessary to ensure future oil platforms are as safe as technologically possible. Another oil spill would be catastrophic and would obviously further exacerbate the tragic situation in the Gulf Coast. There is simply no margin for error. Secretary Salazar assured the bipartisan group of legislators that the administration is working on efforts to mitigate the economic impact of the moratorium.

Meanwhile, millions tuned in on Thursday to watch the Energy and Commerce Committee question BP CEO Tony Hayward. During the debate, Ranking Member Joe Barton from Texas made the unbelievable gesture of apologizing to Mr. Hayward for his company agreeing to set up a $20 billion account to pay for damages from the oil spill. Apologies like Mr. Barton’s have no place in this debate and poured salt on the wounds of the millions of Gulf Coast residents feeling the effects of this oil spill. In no way does BP deserve any kind of apology.

Mr. Barton has since apologized for and retracted his comments, but he must realize that words have consequences. Reps. Jo Bonner (AL) and Jeff Miller (FL), who represent coastal areas south of the Second District, have called on Rep. Barton to step down from his leadership post. Moving forward, I hope Mr. Barton thinks hard about the ramifications of his words and their long-term effect on the response to the oil spill. BP must be held accountable for its actions.

As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call our offices in Montgomery at (334) 277-9113, Dothan at (334) 794-9680, Opp at (334) 493-9253, or Ozark at (334) 445-4600.