BP Oil Disaster Unresolved at Three-Year Mark
Gulf Coast residents, public officials, conservation groups gather onsite at BP trial
(New Orleans, LA—April 16, 2013) Today, as the April 20 three-year memorial of the 2010 BP oil disaster approaches, impacted community members, public officials and local and national conservation groups convened at the site of the ongoing BP trial. The groups demanded that BP be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law for its role in the oil disaster so that Gulf restoration can begin. The BP oil disaster dumped 4.1 million barrels of oil into the Gulf and killed 11 men.
Speakers included National Wildlife Federation’s David Muth, who represented the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign, a coalition of local and national conservation organizations; Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser; well-known New Orleans chef and restaurateur Susan Spicer; Patty Whitney, local community advocate with Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing (BISCO); Jordan Macha, Gulf States representative for Sierra Club and Cynthia Sarthou, Gulf Restoration Network’s executive director.
Representing a variety of diverse interests—including local communities, the seafood and tourism industries and environmental groups—all speakers spoke on the common need for BP accountability, Gulf restoration and needed support for the Mississippi River Delta, an area that bore the brunt of the Gulf oil disaster. In addition to speakers, the event was attended by volumes of affected Gulf residents, who displayed signs symbolizing the amount of oil spilled into the Gulf and calling for BP to pay its maximum fines as soon as possible, so that comprehensive Gulf restoration can begin.
“Three years after the Gulf was inundated with BP oil, the wildlife, habitats and people of the Gulf are still feeling the effects of the disaster,” Muth said. “In 2012 alone, some 6 million pounds of BP oil was collected from Louisiana’s shorelines and 200 miles of coast remain oiled. We can’t allow BP off the hook for anything less than justice requires—a full payment for its recklessness so that real restoration of the Gulf’s ecosystem and economy can begin.”
“We still have concerns about the long term effects on the Gulf and its estuaries. We still see oil on the surface after storms with no one out there monitoring it. We will not stop until we get the help we need,” Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said.
“Our cuisine, culture and economy are all dependent on a thriving, healthy Gulf. That means we’ve all got a stake in holding BP accountable and ensuring effective restoration begins as soon as possible,” said Susan Spicer, chef and owner of Bayona and Mondo restaurants.
“Two years ago, BP promised $1 billion to early restoration to be used in two years. To date, BP has only spent seven percent of the promised total,” said Cynthia Sarthou, executive director of the Gulf Restoration Network. “Despite BP’s slick ad campaigns, the Gulf is still hurting and can’t wait any longer for restoration. It’s time BP be held fully accountable under the law.”
“BP’s oil disaster continues to impact our communities,” said Patty Whitney of Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing (BISCO). “After three years, the Gulf and its people can’t wait any longer for environmental restoration that supports resilient communities.”
“The emerging science shows that the BP oil disaster continues to have wide-ranging impacts on the ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico,” noted Jordan Macha, Gulf States representative for the Sierra Club. “The people, communities and economy of our region depend on a healthy and restored Gulf. Citizen representation is crucial towards building a resilient and sustainable ecosystem and economy.”
The event occurred outside the Hale Boggs Federal Building, where BP is currently at trial defending its role in the disaster.
Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation are members of the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign. Made up of scientists, engineers, policy experts and outreach professionals, the campaign works to advance long-term sustainable solutions for the delta’s communities and wildlife. More at www.mississippiriverdelta.org.
Gulf Restoration Network is an environmental advocacy organization exclusively focused on the health of the Gulf of Mexico. Founded in 1994, GRN’s mission is to unite and empower people to protect and restore the natural resources of the Gulf region. More at www.healthygulf.org.
The Sierra Club is a national environmental advocacy organization and one of the oldest conservation groups in the country. The Central Gulf Coast regional office, based in New Orleans, advocates for vibrant and sustainable solutions for Gulf Coast communities and its environment. More at www.sierraclub.org.
Joint Statement: Leading conservation groups issue joint statement marking BP oil disaster’s third memorial
Groups call for BP’s accountability, payment of fines so Gulf restoration can begin
(New Orleans, LA—April 16, 2013) Today, as the April 20 three-year memorial of the BP oil disaster approaches, impacted community members, public officials and local and national conservation groups convened at the site of the ongoing BP trial. The groups demanded that BP be held accountable to fullest extent of the law for its role in the 2010 BP oil disaster that dumped 4.1 million barrels of oil into the Gulf and killed 11 men.
The conservation groups, Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, Gulf Restoration Network and Sierra Club, issued the following joint statement today:
“The BP oil disaster was the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. The fines BP pays should equate to the unprecedented and egregious nature of its recklessness. This ought to be a clear-cut case of gross negligence, and justice for the Gulf demands nothing less than a robust and fair settlement from BP, as soon as possible.
“Three years later, the oil spill is still a living disaster with ongoing effects, many of which will remain unknown for decades to come. Real restoration for the Gulf is possible, but not until BP pays its justified fines. The sooner BP’s case is resolved, the sooner we can get to work repairing the Gulf.
“In Louisiana, more than 200 miles of coastline remain oiled. As the state continues to lose wetlands at a rate of one football field every hour, nowhere in the Gulf is restoration more urgent than in the Mississippi River Delta.”
The groups noted that progress on Gulf restoration also depends on swift and meaningful action by the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, an entity that Congress created in last year’s RESTORE Act and charged with developing a comprehensive restoration plan. The groups continued:
“The Restoration Council can make a tremendous positive impact on the future of the Gulf by crafting a sustainable, long-term vision for the region that focuses on a healthy ecosystem. The Council’s plan must be comprehensive and prioritize large-scale ecosystem restoration projects as the best path forward toward restored natural resources, revived economies and resilient communities. The Gulf’s economy depends on healthy natural resources, so restoring the ecosystem sustains the economy.
“For Louisiana, the Council should rely on the state’s Coastal Master Plan and prioritize master plan projects in the Council’s priority 3-year strategy. Implementing the ecosystem restoration projects in the master plan is critical to minimize additional land lost around the Mississippi River Delta and maximize new land built.”