The fallout from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill could last decades, a Florida Republican lawmaker suggested Thursday.
Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), whose Panhandle district includes Pensacola, where oil is expected to reach soon, said that tourism in the area had already begun to suffer.
"I'm afraid this is going to be, really, decades," Miller said during an appearance on CNBC of the long-lasting impact of the oil spill.
Even if efforts are successful to cap the well temporarily until relief wells can be drilled over the next two months, the congressman said, enough oil had leaked already to have a lasting effect.
Pensacola is already preparing for oil to reach its beaches in the hours and days ahead, the first location in Florida where oil has crept onshore. The leaking pipeline off of the coast of Louisiana has already spilled oil into that state's environment, and the coast of Alabama has begun to see signs of disaster.
Miller said that Florida's large tourism industry has already taken a major hit as a result of the spill, with potential visitors having canceled reservations for trips to the state's western coast.
"The impact has already been pretty bad on tourism in northwest Florida," Miller said. "I think it's going to be an economic disaster for those here who make their living in the tourism industry."