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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: California | Central Valley | North Coast | U.S. | Environment & Forest Defense | Government & Elections
Gulf Coast Community to BP: Never Again!
The Commercial Fishermen of America is calling on the nation to ensure that those responsible for this travesty do everything possible to make the Gulf and its dependent communities whole. In the meantime, the organizations is urging the administration and Congress must do whatever is necessary to direct adequate resources and assistance to aid the people of the Gulf and the resource upon which they rely.
Gulf Coast Community to BP: Never Again!
by Dan Bacher
During a break in daylong thunderstorms, Gulf Coast community members, including fishermen and families, directly impacted by the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill converged on the beach in Grand Isle, Louisiana on May 16 to send the human message "NEVER AGAIN!" to British Petroleum and the federal government and other officials. They called for urgent action to address the economic and environmental devastation from the spill.
The event, sponsored by the Commercial Fishermen of America and Global Green USA, served as a call to action for a full clean up of the spill, restitution for lost jobs and income, and accelerated efforts towards green energy, according to a news release from the Commercial Fishermen of America.
"The oil spill has put fishing livelihoods and a whole way of life that spans generations in severe jeopardy as hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil pour out of the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil drilling rig," according to Margaret Curole, Board Member of Commercial Fishermen of America. "According to some analysts, the economic cost of the spill could be as high as $14 billion. The coastal wetlands and marine waters now being devastated provide critical habitat for some our nation’s most productive fisheries."
Costs to the Louisiana fishing industry could total $2.5 billion, while the Florida tourism industry could be expected to lose $3 billion, according to Curole. The environmental impact of spill could take years to repair, as the Gulf coastline of wetlands could hold on to the oil's toxins for years, destroying valuable rearing habitat for fish and other species.
Other coastlines may not be spared from the oil's impacts either, as officials now fear the oil will get into the Loop Current and be swept around the Florida peninsula and into the Gulf Stream, which would send the oil along the east coast currents.
"This was the first time these fishermen were ever involved in an action of any kind,” said Curole. "Yesterday they said to me 'I get it, we did something.' The fishermen were happy that the community was involved in making the statement. ”
"The fishing community has unrivaled knowledge of these coasts and must be allowed a seat at the table discussing damage assessment, remediation, mitigation and other efforts to minimize the spill’s impact," said Sara Randall, program director at Commercial Fishermen of America. "Additionally, great care must be taken to advise the public of associated risks and to protect the health of the many thousands of people who are assisting with clean up efforts.
"The Commercial Fishermen of America (CFA) stands in support of our brothers and sisters in the Gulf of Mexico and the repeated disasters, first natural and now man-made, that they and their families have to endure," added Randall.
CFA is calling on the nation to ensure that those responsible for this travesty do everything possible to make the Gulf and its dependent communities whole. In the meantime, the organizations is urging the administration and Congress must do whatever is necessary to direct adequate resources and assistance to aid the people of the Gulf and the resource upon which they rely.
For more information please see: http://www.cfafish.org or contact Margaret Curole, (985)870-5486, or Sara Randall, (415)561-FISH x222.
Fishermen and Conservationists Sue Obama Administration Over Handling of BP Spill
In related news, the Gulf Restoration Network and the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) on May 18 for exempting oil companies drilling in the Gulf of Mexico from disclosing blowout and worst case oil spill scenarios, as well as formulating detailed plans for such. The groups are represented by Earthjustice, an environmental law firm, and the New Orleans law firm of Waltzer & Wiygul.
"I've worked for 15 years to protect and restore the beaches, wetlands and wildlife of the Gulf of Mexico," said Cynthia Sarthou of the Gulf Restoration Network. "We are bracing ourselves against the environmental catastrophe this will bring. BP's drilling disaster will likely destroy countless victories we've won for a healthy Gulf."
"This case is about lax regulation by the Minerals Management Service," said Earthjustice attorney David Guest. "It is actually easier to get a permit for an offshore oil well than for a hot dog stand."
By law, MMS is required to include blowout and worst case oil spill scenarios before approving exploratory offshore drilling plans. These blowout and worst case scenario disclosures must include the maximum volume of oil, the maximum flow rate, the maximum duration of the blowout, and an estimate of the time it would take to contain the resulting oil spill.
For the BP Deepwater Horizon rig exploration plan, MMS approved the plan without this required step because MMS had issued a notice to oil companies telling them that they didn't have to comply with those blowout and worst case oil spill rules. Additionally, MMS was required by law to produce an analysis of potential environmental impacts in the event of a blow-out; but failed to take that necessary step as well.
"The MMS failed to protect us from the worst-case scenario of offshore drilling and now we are watching this scenario play out before our eyes," said Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune. "Response to the blowout has included desperate measures like lighting the sea on fire, pouring potent chemicals into the water, using trash and human hair to prevent the flow of oil, and proposals to dredge the sea and create new barrier islands. If oil companies aren't capable of responding to a blowout, they shouldn't be permitted to drill."
For more information, contact: David Guest, Earthjustice, (850) 681-0031, ext. 103.
California "Marine Guardian" Calls for New Oil Drilling off California Coast
As Gulf Coast residents deal with the unprecedented disaster of the BP oil spill, an oil industry lobbyist who has served on three panels charged with designating "marine protected areas" along the California is calling for more oil drilling off the California coast.
Catherine Reheis Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Association, affirmed the oil industry's mantra of "drill, baby, drill" in an interview with Guy Kovner of Santa Rosa Press Democrat (http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20100506/ARTICLES/100509630/1350?p=1&tc=pg).
In a bizarre case of corporate greenwashing that could only take place under the administration of Governor Arnold Schwarzegger, Reheis-Boyd is chair of Schwarzenegger's MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast. She also was a member of the MLPA Task Force for the North Central Coast and now sits on the task force for the North Coast.
These panels are charged with developing so-called "marine protected areas (MPAs) that remove sustainable fishermen, American Indians and seaweed harvesters from public trust ocean waters while doing nothing to stop water pollution, habitat destruction and oil and gas spills.
"California offshore wells operate in shallow water, no more than 1,200 feet deep, a 'whole different dynamic' than the Gulf of Mexico's deep water wells," Reheis-Boyd claimed, according to the article.
"Reheis-Boyd conceded that the industry will 'learn lessons' from the gulf blowout, but the choices remain unchanged for a state that imports 320 million barrels of oil a year: either expand in-state production or 'become more dependent on foreign oil,'" Kovner stated.
On March 31, Reheis-Boyd told the San Francisco Chronicle that she hopes the Obama administration "will eventually allow new drilling off the California coast." (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/03/31/MNU41CO3O4.DTL)
“We are disappointed,” Reheis-Boyd said, in response to Obama’s March 30 announcement that the U.S. will begin drilling for oil in the waters off the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico - and NOT in the waters off California. “When you look at the resources here, they’re considerable.”
Critics of her appointment to the panels believe that she has been placed there to protect the oil industry's interests - and to make sure that so-called "Marine Protected Areas" don't conflict with the operation of existing offshore oil rigs or the installation of new rigs if the Obama administration lifts the ban on oil drilling off the California coast.
"There are more than 10 billion barrels of crude oil reserves located off the California coast and huge reserves of natural gas," Reheis-Boyd said earlier this year in "A Message from WSPA" on the oil industry group's website (http://www.wspa.org/wspa-message.aspx?id=17). "Our industry has demonstrated over the past 40 years it can and does operate safely in the marine environment."
The oil industry demonstrated how "safely" it "operates" in the marine environment by engaging in practices that led to the deaths of 11 oil rig workers and to unprecedented environmental devastation along the Gulf Coast!
The current tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico makes it clear how so-called "Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) like those developed by Catherine Reheis-Boyd and other corporate interests under the Schwarzenegger administration have absolutely nothing to do with real marine protection. If Reheis-Boyd ever gets her way in pressuring the state and federal governments to allow new oil drilling off the California coast, we could see a similar tragedy to the BP spill unfold in California's ocean waters.
"Unfortunately, marine protected areas, as currently designed, don't protect against oil spills," said Sara Randall. "What's the point of developing marine protected areas if they don't protect the resources?"