GRN's Steve Murchie speaking to media. Citizens and representatives of GRN and other organizations gathered today on the banks of the Mississippi River in New Orleans to mark four years since the beginning of the BP drilling disaster, which started on April 20th, 2010. This was one of three concurrent events across the Gulf, with the others located in Biloxi, Mississippi and St. Petersburg, Florida. In New Orleans and around the Gulf, we stood up to demand that BP and other oil and gas companies be held accountable for their actions, and called for transparency and genuine public participation as restoration efforts begin to move forward.
“Today should not have to be about reminding the nation that thousands of Gulf Coast residents continue to be impacted by the environmental and economic damage created by the BP Oil disaster,” said Colette Pichon Battle, Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy. “The request by coastal residents four years later is the same as in 2010. Clean up the oil. Pay for the damage. And, ensure that this never happens again.”
GRN's Jonathan Henderson holding tar balls he discovered on the beach in Grand Isle, LA on April 9, 2014.Despite BP declaring an end to “active recovery” this week, oil continues to wash up on the Gulf’s shores. On an April 9th monitoring trip to Barataria Bay and Grand Isle, Louisiana, Gulf Restoration Network documented fresh tar balls on the beaches and a dead dolphin in the surf. One recent study linked BP’s oil to problems with heart health in bluefin tuna and amberjack. Similar results have been found after other oil spills, including the Exxon-Valdez disaster.
“The BP disaster was the largest man-made environmental catastrophe in U.S. history, but sadly it wasn’t the first or the last time we’ve seen the oil and gas industry pollute our environment and endanger our communities,” said Steve Murchie, Campaign Director with the Gulf Restoration Network. “Twenty five years after the Exxon-Valdez disaster and four years after BP, not enough action has been taken to protect coastal communities from the impacts of oil and gas development, extraction, and transportation. Just last month a new, large oil spill occurred in Galveston Bay, Texas. Here in Louisiana, our governor and many legislators are trying to shield the oil and gas industry from accountability in court for their damage to coastal wetlands.”
As BP spends million on ads to downplay their damage to the Gulf, residents from impacted communities are standing up to BP’s misinformation, telling the true story of how their lives have been impacted, and calling for genuine community participation and transparency in Gulf restoration efforts.
"The BP disaster caused many changes in peoples’ lives, and the Gulf and our community will never be the same," stated Chief Albert Naquin from the Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw. “BP can’t undo that damage, but they do need to own up to it so that we can move on to the business of restoration.”
“If restoration efforts in the wake of the BP disaster are going to succeed, decision makers need to listen to the voice of the people who call the Gulf home, and engage young people and diverse communities in the restoration process,” said Minh Nguyen the Founder and Executive Director of VAYLA New Orleans. “The communities most impacted by this disaster deserve a voice in how we restore the Gulf, and their knowledge and insights are essential to making sure restoration efforts are effective.”
Raleigh Hoke is GRN's Communications Director.