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Gulf Coast community to BP: Never again


During a break in daylong thunderstorms, Gulf Coast community members, including fishermen and families, directly affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill converged on the beach in Grand Isle, La. 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 CFA.

“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,” said Margaret Curole, CFA board member. “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 the 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,” Curole said. “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 spills impact,” said Sara Randall, CFA program director. “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 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.”

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 organization is urging the administration and Congress to do whatever is necessary to direct adequate resources and assistance to aid the people of the Gulf and the resource upon which they rely.

Fishermen and conservationists sue Obama administration over handling of BP spill

The Gulf Restoration Network and Sierra Club filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Minerals Management Service 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 GRN. “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.”