Local BP owners affected by Gulf spill

June 14, 2010 (CHICAGO) President Barack Obama has promised residents in the Gulf region the area will return to normal in the wake of the oil spill. Obama made his fourth visit to the region Monday. He is set to address the nation about the spill Tuesday night.

In the meantime, some owners of Chicago area BP gas stations say they have felt the economic fallout from the spill.

Bob Juckniess, owner of ten BP stations in the Chicagoland area has been in business for 25 years. He says he has seen a 20-percent drop in sales at his filling stations, as a result of the oil spill.

"It varies by location, but we've seen some significant losse, especially since the last 'top kill' failed," Juckniess said.

Juckniess is trying to combat the backlash by openly communicating with his customers not to boycott his gas stations.

"We're small businessmen. We support the communities we work in. We all live in the communities we work in, and we don't have anything to do with the disaster down in the Gulf," he said.

Managers insist that people should realize that the gas stations are independently owned and operated and have nothing to do with the Gulf issue.

Several managers of BP gas stations in Chicago speaking to ABC7 say business is good and that they are not negatively affected by the oil spill.

Customer Melida Guerrero says she is forced to buy BP living in the city but would rather not.

"Since this is happening, I don't like it anymore, BP. I hope they are working on this to fix it as soon as possible," Guerrero said.

Jack Darin, director of the Illinois Sierra Club has led protests with the Rev. Jesse Jackson at BP stations, asking customers to boycott the company.

" People are angry. They're looking for something they can do here in Chicago, or wherever they live, to try to make a difference. And I think that, for many people, they are showing that in where they're buying their gas. This is the time to make sure that no more oil spills, no more air pollution from oil. The way we can do that is by making a commitment as a country to get off oil once and for all," Darrin said.

Darin, however, says he sympathizes with the BP gas station owners.

"We're still dependent on oil. We're going to move further away from that dependency, but we have to remember--in the meantime-- that that's how we get around is by using fuel in our automobiles, and let's support the local businesspeople who own the stations in their neighborhoods," said Juckniess.

Juckniess did say that he is spearheading a group of BP owners to join forces and go down to the Gulf to see what they can do to help the people most affected by the crisis.

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