Tag Archives: Seize BP

BP ad shows protesters during National Shrimp Festival in Alabama

This was originally posted at al.com

GULF SHORES, Alabama — BP launched its new television advertising campaign this week touting its commitment to the Gulf Coast’s post-oil spill recovery, and a small group of anti-BP protesters are enjoying some extra exposure.

The Alabama Oil Spill Aftermath Coalition held a small demonstration near the site of the 40th annual National Shrimp Festival in October and a few seconds of the popular event are shown in the nationally televised BP ad.

In the minute-long ad’s brief segment showing the Shrimp Festival, crowds line the Gulf Shores beachfront under clear skies. On the beach, beyond the festival grounds, the small group can be seen.

In an email to fuelfix.com, Michele Harmon, who is associated with the coalition, said she noticed cameras panning the scene from the roof of a nearby restaurant.

“I, like the rest of the protesters, assumed they were media filming the crowds at the festival,” Harmon said. “When they panned the cameras our way, we made sure they knew we were there, in hopes of getting media coverage.”

Kim McCuiston of Foley, another organizers of the event, told the Press-Register at the time that the Oct. 15 rally was an attempt to tell people that not enough had been done to clean the Gulf since the spill.

Can’t make this stuff up!

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Filed under Alabama, BP, Environment, Gulf Oil Spill, Gulf States

BP spill: One year since worst oil spill ever

[originally posted at PSLweb]

April 18, 2011

Deepwater Horizon explosion, April 20, 2010

The writer was part of a delegation that traveled to the Gulf at the onset of the crisis to meet with affected fishermen, workers and activists as part of the Seize BP campaign calling for the seizure of BP’s assets to pay for the cleanup and fully compensate economic losses of those in the region. Demonstrations were held in cities across the country at that time.

One year after causing the worst oil spill in history, BP has claimed 2010 as their “best year in safety performance” in their company’s history, even as workers in the Gulf region continue to suffer from the disaster.

Adding insult to injury, BP executives recently rewarded themselves with “safety bonuses.” BP’s CEO Steve Newman’s bonus last year was $374,062, which is really just a tip since Newman usually rakes in almost $6 million a year. Transocean managers—the owners of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig—received up to two-thirds of the total possible “safety” bonuses.

Role of capitalist state exposed

The explosion on the Deep Horizon off-shore rig 50 miles off the Louisiana coast left 11 workers dead, 17 injured and more than 200 million tons of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, wreaking untold damage on the environment and economies of the Gulf states. The aftermath of the profit-driven catastrophe showed the true power of big oil and exposed the government and state as managers of the interests of the capitalist class.

Millions of gallons of oil poured into the Gulf and hundreds of thousands of gallons of Corexit and other toxic dispersants—banned in 19 countries—were pumped in to conceal it. At the same time, the Obama administration approved dozens of off-shore drilling projects in the early days of the crisis, showing all the more in Obama’s own words that the federal government’s relationship to big oil is indeed “cozy.”

It took BP several attempts to cap the gusher, finally succeeding on July 15—nearly three months later.

CNN just received the “prestigious” Peabody Award for journalism for their comprehensive coverage of the disaster, acting as only one mouthpiece of the apparatus to echo BP’s efforts and the federal government’s endorsement.

BP headquarters in Houma, La., carefully released information on their efforts and promises to deal with the disaster—although the press or public could not walk into BP headquarters to verify that. Again, to show the relationship between big oil and the government, it was not BP’s private security at the gates of their operations headquaters in Louisiana. It was staffed by the Department of Homeland Security.

Michael Bromwich, head of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, is pressuring federal officials for $100 million, not to clean up the Gulf disaster or compensate workers and residents, but to speed up the infrastructure to approve more permits for drilling in the Gulf. Already in mid-March, Anglo-Suisse claimed responsibility for another oil spill, while yet more lip service was given to the need for “federal oversight.”

Workers, residents report chronic health effects

The working and oppressed people of Gulf have another story to tell. Exemplified in one man’s story who lives 100 miles from the coast, a recent report showed that he tested as having higher levels of chemicals from BP’s spill than actual clean-up workers.

Hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic dispersants were pumped into the Gulf at the time.

The health problems resulting from the spill continue to become apparent while peoples’ pleas for medical care to address the toxic health affects of the spill continue to be ignored by BP and government authorities.

Many of the clean-up workers were fishermen and others who became unemployed during the disaster. These workers lived under appalling conditions and became exposed to toxic oil and chemicals.

“If I wanted to be in prison, I would break the law and go to jail,” explained one clean-up worker when asked to describe the living conditions of the “floating hotels” set-up by BP.

At one point, these workers carried out a strike to demand better housing. Most of them are still waiting for compensation for their claims from BP.

Major health problems are being seen among people exposed to both the oil and the dispersants used in the cleanup. According to Dr. Rodney Soto, a Florida physician, both the oil and the dispersants contain volatile organic compounds that cause an array of negative health problems. (Al-Jazeera)

According to Soto, between five and seven VOCs have been found in his patients who also report symptoms and illnesses including vomiting, kidney damage, lung damage, burning sensations in the nose and throat, skin irritation and liver damage.

Alabama resident Lloyd Pearcey worked on a BP clean-up team for four months. He has chemicals from oil and dispersants in his blood, according to tests conducted by Soto. Pearcey is now battling cancer.

Others who did not work in the cleanup currently have similar medical complications. Even more troubling, others with toxins present in their blood today may present symptoms or illnesses later as a result of the exposure.

As time goes on, there are potentially “tremendous implications in the human immune system, hormonal function, and brain function,” according to Soto.

Untold environmental damage

While BP reports that they have completed clean-up efforts in Mississippi, residents report a strange foamy substance washing up on shore that could very well be connected to dispersants used.

Yet the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, state health departments and President Obama have joined the chorus with BP that the beaches and seafood from the Gulf are safe.

“It’s criminal for the government to tell people to eat the contaminated seafood, and that it’s alright for people go to our toxic beaches and swim in the contaminated water,” Dr. Soto said.

The environmental impact continues to be assessed with alarming statistics. One report showed that 60 percent of Louisiana coastal land erosion resulted from the spill. In reality, the extent of the erosion has not been fully calculated, but could be as much as the size of the state of Delaware.

The Gulf Coast shoreline is a fragile and complex ecological system—a system that protects the interior against hurricanes as well as providing a cycle of food for many different species. Thus, oil contamination on the coast kills off microscopic algae, a base food, cutting off nutrients to fish, shrimp, oysters and then larger species, such as birds, land animals and humans.

Toxic dispersants remain in the Gulf of Mexico. It is clear that this was a strategy not to clean up the spill, but to conceal it deep in the sea, impacting deep-sea wildlife for generations to come.

Oil from the BP spill remains stuck on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, according to marine scientist Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia. She presents evidence that the oil is not degrading as expected and is killing life on the sea floor.

Her videos and photographs taken deep below the surface show dead crabs, pale starfish and suffocated tube worms, which are all sea life key to the larger ecological cycle.

The sea life not only suffered from the oil itself; the fire that lasted for days produced a tremendous amount of methane and soot that ultimately will reach the marshes, beaches and barrier islands where other wildlife nest and breed in the Gulf.

No real compensation for the people of the Gulf

BP has assets of $152 billion. If British Petroleum were a nation it would rank 35th richest in the world, if its assets were calculated as gross national product. The Seize BP Campaign demanded that the assets of British Petroleum be seized by the government—the only entity that could carry out such an action.

These demands did not place faith in a government at the service of big oil, but demanded that the funds be placed into a trust that could quickly and easily assist the people of the Gulf and the clean-up efforts and be made available as more damages became uncovered.

This trust would have been administered by the people from the harmed area. The trustees were to include representatives of the fishers, shrimpers, crabbers, unions, small business people and workers in the tourism and recreation industry, local elected officials, clergy, and independent scientists and environmentalists.

Instead of full compensation for the people of the Gulf or the people of the Gulf having a say in their futures, Obama made Kenneth Feinberg trustee for distributing what BP was willing to pay. Feinberg was previously appointed to hand out the billions of taxpayers’ money in the bailout for the banks, insurance companies and their criminal executives. Feinberg holds the purse strings to the escrow fund rather than the people who are most impacted.

BP has been promoting the idea that the tourist industry in the Gulf was not affected by the disaster. In fact, many hotels were booked with clean-up workers and others working on the spill. Yet hotel and tourist industry representatives report that these visitors did not come to the Gulf to enjoy the beaches, eat in the restaurants and participate in one of the largest industries—sport fishing.

Just a month ago, local workers who assisted in the clean-up efforts and are suffering from poor health and other damages to their boats filed suit in New Orleans, naming BP and the other co-owners of Deepwater Horizon as well as the manufacturer of the toxic dispersants. The suit is seeking compensation for bodily harm and unpaid wages.

The White House announced a criminal investigation into BP, Transocean, the well operator contractor, and Halliburton, the second largest company in the world in oil field services, which cemented the rig. We know all too well what the result of a White House-led investigation will be—a slap on the wrist at best.

The oil giants’ drive for profits has resulted in theft of land from indigenous peoples in Louisiana to peoples of the Middle East, untold environmental havoc and millions of deaths from wars and occupations. The BP oil disaster has made all the more clear the need to continue to build a movement to eradicate the private ownership of the earth’s resources, so that the people of the planet can plan and safely extract needed resources without jeopardizing the poorest now and generations to come.

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Filed under class struggle, Corporations, Environment, Environmental Justice, fishing, Florida, Gulf Oil Spill, Gulf States, Louisiana, Oil

Effect of Oil Spill on Native American Tribes

By hastenawait

As part of the SEIZE BP Campaign’s first national day of action, we staged a rally in the university town of Hammond, Louisiana, which is mid-way between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. When I was interviewed by NBC 33 out of Baton Rouge at this event, I predicted that some of the worst effects of the environmental crisis would be felt by the oppressed nationalities living in the coastal areas. I was thinking mainly about African American, Latino, and Indochinese workers (large numbers of Vietnamese and Cambodian immigrants, for instance, are involved in the fishing industry here). I was referring to a general pattern of environmental racism, with which we are familiar in Louisiana.

But the crisis in the Gulf is also hitting coastal tribal peoples, the remnants of those who have survived centuries of genocidal repression. Heather Benno, in a Party for Socialism and Liberation editorial, reports:

Native American tribes in southern Louisiana continue their struggle against Big Oil after decades of land destruction. The Choctaw, Chitimacha, Houma, Attakapas and Biloxi tribes, all native to the Gulf marshes, have seen the oil from the BP spill destroy their fishing grounds and livelihoods.

Emary Billiot, a Native American fisherman from the region, explained: “Once the oil gets in the marshes, it’s all over, that’s where your shrimp spawn. Then we’re in trouble.”

Oil’s assault on Native lands is nothing new.  In the early 19th century, the federal government claimed the land and sold it off to oil and land companies. Oil companies dug canals for private pipelines that ruined the marshes by saltwater seepage.The destruction from BP’s April rig explosion, coupled with decades of legal Native environmental and cultural devastation, shows that the oil industry, and the government that supports it, are the problem. A historian with the United Houma Nation tribe explained, “This is not a two-week story, but a hundred-year story.”

Then there is the Atakapa Ishak tribe of coastal Louisiana. Here is a moving video about their plight. These effects – brought about by a multinational corporation and the U.S. government – are nothing short of environmental racism, and are part of the continuing national oppression of North American tribal peoples, whose right to self-determination has been brutally undermined since the arrival of European conqueors.

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Filed under African Americans, ANSWER Coalition, Corporations, Environment, Environmental Justice, fishing, Gulf Oil Spill, Gulf States, Louisiana, National Oppression, Native Americans, Race, Southern United States, Uncategorized, United States, workers

Happenings in the “Sunshine State”

By KurtFF8

There have been a few noteworthy events in Florida recently.

As part of the national “Seize BP” campaign: Destin, Ft. Lauderdale, Ft Myers, Key West, Miami, Orlando, Tallahassee, and Tampa all had demonstrations in support of the call to seize BP’s assets as BP’s oil began to wash up on Florida’s shores in greater numbers.  These rallies drew out large crowds and quite a bit of support (and a note that many other cities across the South held these BP demonstrations in Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky, New Mexico, and Virginia).

The idea that BP can just be boycott in general raises a few questions that those who argue for a boycott seem to not have thought out.  For example: what is the alternative (although perhaps some Leftists will argue that we should all shop at Citgo perhaps 😉 )  But what kind of lifestyle politics is “watch where you shop for gas” in the first place?  This is why ANSWER launched the Seize BP campaign: it’s the solution to this problem, and would put the assets of BP in the hands of those affected.  Also, something the Seize BP campaign has been questioned about many times thus far is the question of “why allow the Federal Government, who was complicit in the crisis in the first place, be allowed to handle the assets.”  There’s the first point of: they seem to be the only entity actually capable of such an action of seizure.  The second point is that the Seize BP campaign doesn’t call for those responsible for this crisis to be the administrators of such a trust that would be created from the assets, but calls for those affected (fishing and shrimp workers, BP workers, etc.) to be in charge of such a trust.

– There have also been various demonstrations in relation to the recently Israeli attack on the flotilla on its way to Gaza.  ANSWER coalition called for demonstrations in Tampa and Orlando, while the ISO of Gainesville held a demonstration on Monday.  These demonstrations had a clear message: opposition to Israel’s attack and a call on the US government to join in with the rest of the world in condemning the attack and stopping military support to Israel.  While there were various demonstrations condemning the attack around Florida, in Miami, there was a pro-Israel demonstration where some demonstrators even claimed that the Obama administration is going too far in “defending those who want to destroy Israel” (thus we see both demonstrations issuing out harsh criticism of the current administration).  The more reactionary tone of the Miami demonstration doesn’t come as a surprise to Leftists (especially those in Florida) as it’s well known that many reactionary groups are based there.

– Various Florida labor unions within the past month have come out in opposition to (Three paragraphs down) the racist Arizona bill.  The Florida AFL-CIO also passed a resolution coming out in opposition to the bill (not yet published online)

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Filed under ANSWER Coalition, Anti-Imperialism, Anti-War, Florida, Gulf Oil Spill, Gulf States, Imperialism, labor movement, Leftists in the U.S. South, Palestine, Southern United States