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BP’s Gulf of Mexico Disaster: Two Years Later, Where Is The Response?

1:19 pm in Uncategorized by Philip Radford

Co-Authored by Phil Radford, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA and Aaron Viles, Deputy Director of Gulf Restoration Network

The BP disaster turns two this week. Two years since the nation was reminded that offshore drilling is dirty, dangerous, and deadly.  Two years since the slow-motion disaster began changing our region, our communities, our ecosystem.

As we look back and assess where we are today, a troubling picture is emerging from the Gulf.

Throughout the foodchain, warning signs are accumulating.  Dolphins are sick and dying.  Important forage fish are plagued with gill and developmental damage.  Deepwater species like snapper have been stricken with lesions, and their reefs are losing biodiversity.  Coastal communities are struggling with changes to the fisheries they rely upon.  Hard-hit oyster reefs aren’t coming back and sport fish like speckled trout have disappeared from some of their traditional haunts. BP’s oily fingerprints continue to mar the landscape and destroy habitats.

With these impacts already here, some scientists are alarmed by what they’re finding. Unfortunately their concerns are largely drowned out by BP and the “powers that be” shouting through very large megaphones that, ‘all is fine, BP is making it right, come and spend your money’. But the truth is far different. The Gulf of Mexico, our nation’s energy sacrifice zone, continues to suffer.

Of course, the Gulf wasn’t a pristine ecosystem on April 19, 2010.  The coastal wetlands of the Mississippi River delta were in a crisis state, losing a football field worth of wetlands every hour due to our mismanagement of the river for flood control and dependable shipping lanes.  This crisis has been greatly exacerbated by the oil industry being allowed to dredge 10,000 miles of canals through our coastal zone, removing marsh and increasing subsidence.

Louisiana’s coastal wetlands system is among the fastest disappearing landmasses on earth, diminishing at the rate of 18 square miles every year.  The coastal zone is vast however, making up 30 percent of the nation’s coastal wetlands but is experiencing 90% of the nation’s wetlands loss, a total of over 1,800 square miles since 1932.

These wetlands are absolutely critical to our nation.  Supplying $3 trillion annually to the U.S. economy, the Mississippi River and the Gulf coast create an international gateway for products like coffee, grain, seafood, oil, and gas. The Gulf coast has historically been the cradle of nearly one-third of the commercial fish and shellfish harvest of the lower 48 states. Critical for migratory birds, the coast is used by up to 40 percent of North America’s duck, geese, and eagle populations. Jazz, Funk, Zydeco, and Fats Domino were all born in southern Louisiana. Read the rest of this entry →

Thoughts on Whose Ass Obama Should Kick

6:39 am in Uncategorized by Philip Radford

President Obama asked yesterday "whose ass to kick" over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. I have a few ideas.

1. Tony Hayward. BP CEO Tony Hayward and his company should be criminally charged for the reckless endangerment of their workers, for violations of the Clean Water Act by dumping millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf, and for stealing the income of the people who rely on the Gulf for their livelihoods. Instead, seven of my colleagues are being aggressively charged with felonies for peacefully calling on the President to stop offshore Arctic drilling. Arrest the real criminals.

2. Lisa Murkowski. Senator Lisa Murkowski is just one of many of our elected officials who seem to be working for the fossil fuel industries instead of in the interest of the American people. As the Gulf Region watches in horror at the impacts of the oil spill on its coasts, its waters, and its economy, the US Senate is scheduled to consider a proposal tomorrow from Senator Lisa Murkowski that would protect oil companies and other big polluters by gutting America’s Clean Air Act.

3. His Own and His Staffs’. Obama and his top staff must take responsibility for their distinct lack of vision in a time of oil, national security, and climate crises, clinging to weak Senate climate legislation instead of pivoting towards a vision of getting the U.S. off of oil by 2030. A smart first step would be to call for all cars to be plug-in electrics by 2030.

The Energy [R]evolution

To eliminate the risks of another BP Deepwater Disaster, we must look away from the dinosaur fossil fuel companies of our past and towards a bright future of clean, renewable energy. It is possible right now to make the changes we need for that future. Don’t believe those who tell you that it’s too hard or too expensive.

Today, my colleagues at Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council released the new Energy [R]evolution report to illustrate the way forward. The report is one of the most comprehensive plans for future production and distribution of sustainable energy systems.

The report provides a detailed practical blueprint for cutting carbon pollution while achieving economic growth by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy and energy efficiency. This phase-out of fossil fuels leads to energy security, independence from world market fuel prices, and a reduction in pollution-related illnesses.

The Energy [R]evolution shows how by 2050 renewable energy sources could provide around 96% of electricity produced in the USA and 74% of our total heating demand, accounting for around 71% of our overall primary energy demand. The blueprint would create about 800,000 jobs in the renewables sector alone, by 2030. The total fuel cost savings in the scenario described could reach a total of $4.5 trillion, or $107 billion per year.

Lack of vision by politicians and a pocket full of corporate contributions has held us back for too long. Our children are counting on us to leave them a planet free from the threat of rig explosions, devastating oil spills, and unchecked climate change, and we have that power. The Energy [R]evolution is here.

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BP Waives Responsibility — Health Effects of Oil Cleanup Could Be Deadly

8:14 am in BP oil disaster, climate change, Energy, Health care by Philip Radford

After the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, employees and volunteers working around the oil became seriously ill and many of the thousands of workers died from inhaling the toxic air and handling dispersants that contained benzene and other chemicals.

Those same chemicals are currently being used on the BP Deepwater Oil Disaster.

In the Gulf the people at risk of illness are the thousands of Louisiana fisherman rendered jobless by BP‘s oil spill. These fishermen have been left with no other option than to work for the same company that has taken away their livelihoods.

In BP‘s most recent move to avoid responsibility, the company is requiring these men and women to sign the waiver below. The waiver protects BP from being sued by their staff and volunteers for "claims and damages in connection with use of equipment connected with the Response Activities."

In other words, BP has prioritized protecting its corporate interests and pocketbook over providing medical care for injuries and illnesses stemming from those workers and families cleaning up the BP mess.

This is BP‘s second attempt to dodge responsibility and limit their liability. A previous BP agreement, that gave residents $5,000 in exchange for waiving their right to sue, was already struck down by Louisiana courts.

This post originally appeared on Huffington Post.