For immediate release May 14, 2010
Contact: David Lee or Kim Marks, Rising Tide North America: 702-527-2742
Dr. Rachel Smolker, BiofuelWatch: 802-482-2848
Activists Hold National “Day of Action, Night of Mourning”
Activists in cities and towns around the country express outrage, solidarity and grief about the catastrophic Gulf Oil spill during a “Day of Action, Night of Mourning” on Friday, May 14. Coastal ecosystems and species, and ocean-based economies face the grim reality of unfolding disastrous impacts as the ruptured deep sea well in the Gulf of Mexico spews oil at an every-increasing rate. Initiated by Rising Tide North America, the Call To Action is endorsed by Earth First!, BiofuelWatch, Sierra Club, Backbone Campaign, Institute for Social Ecology, the Yes Men and other organizations. Actions are planned in Boston, Rancho Mirage, Calif.; Berkeley, Calif.; Savanna, Georgia; the Gulf Coast region, and other areas, as reports pour in. The protest activities across the country are targeting British Petroleum (BP) and the federal government with these demands:
-An immediate ban on all offshore drilling
-A rapid and just transition away from fossil fuels
- All recovery costs paid by BP, Halliburton, Transocean and other implicated companies.
-The federal government must remove any caps on liability for oil companies.
-BP provides full compensation for impacted communities and small businesses.
-BP provides full funding for long-term ecosystem restoration for impacted areas.
Estimates are now that up to 210,000 gallons of oil per day are pouring out from BP’s “oil volcano” into the ocean. But many believe the real figures could ultimately be much higher. The spill, getting worse by the day as attempts to cap the well fail, is threatening to be the worst spill in memory, and eclipse the Exxon Valdez spill over 20 years ago. It was revealed in recent Congressional hearings that the well failed a pressure test that could have predicted the explosion disaster hours before the explosion, but the company failed to suspend the operation.
“This spill was an accident waiting to happen,” said Kim Marks, an activist with Rising Tide. “Pursuing only profit with reckless disregard for the ecosystem and the workers, BP, Halliburton and Transocean have been racking up violations, operating without sufficient environmental review, and ignored warning signs of such a disaster, with the result being one of the most difficult ecological disasters to fix in that wake. If ever there were a crude wake-up call for a halt to all offshore drilling, this is it. We need a permanent ban, and we need it now.”
A representative from Public Citizen said BP has one of the worst safety records of any oil company operating in America. Tyson Slocum of Public Citizen said in media reports that “In just the last few years, BP has paid $485 million in fines and settlements to the US government for environmental crimes, willful neglect of worker safety rules, and penalties for manipulating energy markets.”
In October 2009, BP paid the largest fine in OSHA history – $87.43 million – for willful negligence that led to the deaths of 15 workers in a March 2005 refinery explosion in Texas. And just last month, BP paid $3 million fine to OSHA for 42 willful safety violations at one of its refineries in Ohio. In March 2006, BPs neglect of one of its major oil pipelines in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska led to an oil leak that resulted in BP paying $20 million to settle allegations it violated the clean water act. BP also was forced to pay $303 million to settle allegations it manipulated the US propane market, was fined $18 million for market manipulation during the California energy crisis.
Longtime Earth First! activist Karen Pickett said, “When a company like BP is earning $6 billion or more in profits every three months, issuing a fine of $20 million here, $50 million here, or finding of criminal negligence, as the Dept. of Justice has done on two occasions in the last two years, but without serious repercussions –that is all just the cost of doing business for BP. It’s time for permanent sanctions against corporate criminal offenders like BP. We should be denying them access to lucrative leases that our government sells to these companies.
“I am in a state of shock,” said Rachel Smolker, a climate activist with a Ph.D. in ecology and zoology. “I spent 20 years studying dolphins – the ocean and perhaps the planet’s most intelligent and playful species. The thought of what this spill will mean for them is hard to bear. Seven of the 10 species of the sea turtles, mostly threatened and endangered, live in the Gulf. They are central to the Native American “turtle island” creation myth. Having survived for 150 million years, outliving the dinosaurs, BP may now spell their demise. It’s absolutely sickening.”
Info and images of actions as they take place on 5-14 are at http://www.actagainstoil.com/