Ecuadorean leaders in Gulf On Tuesday morning Mariana Jiminez a 71-year-old grandmother from the region in Ecuador devastated by Chevron’s massive oil contamination, dipped her hand in the oil black water covering the precious marshlands just off Louisiana’s Gulf coast and held a dying, oil-drenched crab in her hand. This week, four Indigenous and community leaders from Ecuador, as well as advocates from Rainforest Action Network and Amazon Watch are deep in Louisiana’s sweltering Bayou to witness the depth of BP’s oil disaster and share lessons and cautionary tales with Indigenous communities in the Gulf. The Ecuadoreans have traveled by boat and across traditional lands to meet the local United Houma Nation and Atakapa-Ishak tribes, communities dependent on a healthy Bayou for their survival and terrified of the toll this most recent oil disaster will have on their livelihoods, their families, and their very way of life. In every conversation with every person we meet on this powerful, infuriating, and deeply sad journey it is remarkable how similar the stories are. On Tuesday afternoon, Rosina Phillipe invited us unto her dock in the tiny Grand Bayou Village community, home to 9 Atakapa-Ishak families and accessible only by boat. Rosina explained that for thousands of years her community has depended on the bountiful Bayou for their food, water, and cultural practices. They have weathered terrible storms, government and oil industry theft of their land, but are afraid they may not survive this oil disaster. If her community can no longer eat or work, how will they continue to live on the water as they have done for generations? While sharing a delicious lunch with leaders and elders of the United Houma Nation at an old Native school house turned tribal center, Emergildo, Humberto, Luis, and Mariana shared their experiences of Chevron’s oil contamination and the impact it has had on their environment, health, and traditional practices. They too used to fish, but have had to start farming to sustain themselves. They spoke of the family members they have lost from oil-related birth defects, illnesses, and cancers and warned the Houma of the long-term health problems they will face, long after the TV cameras and the company has left. As we walked along the deserted, oil stained beach in Grand Isle, Brenda Dardar Robichaux, former Principal Chief of the United Houma Nation, explained how she has been struck by how similar her story is to the Indigenous people of Ecuador. From Louisiana’s Bayou to Ecuador’s rainforest, you see the same oil-drenched waterways, dying animals, and smell the same toxic stench in the air. Families nurse their loved ones through similar oil-related illnesses, respiratory diseases, and cancers- while being told the same lies by the oil companies and politicians that the oil won’t hurt them. And Indigenous communities the world over are forced to adapt and fight like hell for their physical and cultural survival. Follow this amazing journey on Twitter and Facebook!
Senate Hearing on BP Oil Spill As the largest oil disaster in US history unfolds in the Gulf, following on the heels of the financial meltdown, the American public is finally waking up to the devastating consequences of decades of unchecked corporate power. These days, it seems like the only people who trust corporations, especially the dirtiest and most deceitful energy companies, are our elected representatives in Washington and in state capitals across the country. A healthy, functioning, non-corrupt democracy would respond to our most recent corporate- created catastrophe by reigning in the oil industry and moving our country immediately and aggressively away from dirty oil and energy and into the clean energy future we so desperately need. But alas, our democracy is as dirty as our energy system. Today, as I write this, US Senators are voting on an anti-science, dirty air resolution that would gut the EPA's ability to regulate dangerous greenhouse gas emissions and give $140 billion giveaway to the oil industry. It is no coincidence that Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who introduced the resolution, is the third greatest benefactor of oil and gas money. Number one is Senator Blanche Lincoln, of Arkansas, one of the few Democrats who are voting for the resolution and against public health. *Update! The Murkowski Amendment vote just occurred and the amendment was struck down 47-53* There are some courageous politicians in Washington that still listen to their constituents more than oily contributors. Next Tuesday, Representative Markey has called the oil executives of the 5 largest oil companies to testify before the House. I will be at that hearing and will carry the outrage of the American public, not only at Big Oil's CEOs, but at a government that has allowed money to cloud its judgment at tremendous cost to communities, health, livelihoods, and our environment. BP, Chevron, Exxon, and the rest of their Big Oil buddies have made lying and killing a standard part of their business practice. From Alaska to Ecuador to the Gulf they cut corners to save pennies, fight regulation, lie, spill and pollute, refuse to clean up their messes, and insist on keep America dangerously addicted to oil. And they depend on Senators like Murkowski and Lincoln to get away with, literally, murder. Thanks to the Supreme Court's Citizen United decision early this year, we are going to see unprecedented corporate money fueling the federal mid-term elections. This are going to get worse, unless we make them better. Will you stand with me this Fall and demand not only clean energy, but also clean elections?
storyimages_picture5_1272566719Today marks the 1 month anniversary of the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill that began with the April 20 explosion and fire on the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, owned by Transocean Ltd. and leased by BP. The blast killed 11 workers. Since then, oil has been pouring into the Gulf at a rate of at least 210,000 gallons per day. The devastation this oil spill has created for communities, livelihood, wildlife, and a very fragile ecosystem is terrifying. What is perhaps even more terrifying, is that the current tragedy in the Gulf could be a harbinger of much worse to come. A recently released report, The True Cost of Chevron, reveals that Chevron is the number one leaseholder in the Gulf Coast and has been at the forefront of lobbying efforts to expand the dangerous practice of off-shore drilling, both in the US and around the globe. Perhaps most distressing is the fact that Chevron contracts with Transocean, the very same company responsible for the explosion. And if another disaster does occur in the Gulf Coast, Chevron's track record in Ecuador, Nigeria, and other places around the globe has given us absolutely no reason to believe they will accept full responsibility, clean it up, or compensate the victims. In Canada this month, Chevron began exploratory drilling this month in the Orphan Basin, a project that will set a record for the deepest offshore oil well in Canada. Chevron warned regulators it would be unable to clean up the vast majority of any big oil spill at the Newfoundland. Chevron, BP, and the rest of their Big Oil buddies must be reigned in. They have proven time and again that they are not to be trusted, cut every safety corner possible to cut costs, and will litigate to hell freezes over rather than accept responsibility when they inevitably cause irreversible damage to communities and the environment. Many of the injured parties were dead by the time Exxon finally settled (and at a fraction of what was fair or right) and Chevron is STILL (26 years later) dragging out and denying justice for the 30,000 people in Ecuador who are suffering and dying because of their massive oil contamination. We need an immediate end to all off-shore drilling and we need to hold oil companies like Chevron and BP truly accountable to the damage they cause.
This week, Senators Kerry and Leiberman unveiled The American Power Act – 987 pages of draft climate and energy legislation. Our country desperately needs bold clean energy and climate legislation that transitions America to 100% real clean energy, creates good green jobs, and immediately and drastically reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, dirty energy corporations (notably Big Oil and King Coal) have spent obscene amounts of money on lobbying and campaign contributions to influence climate and energy policy and keep us dangerously addicted to dirty energy like coal, oil, and nuclear. All sorts of dirty energy corporations (like Duke, Shell Oil and Florida Power and Light) have endorsed this bill because of all the polluter giveways and subsidizes. Which is why we at Greenwash of the Week invited Darth Vader himself to weigh in on the bill. If you enjoy the video, please share with your friends on Twitter and Facebook!
Today is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, and we're not the only ones celebrating 40 years of progress to protect our health, communities, and environment. Corporations love to use Earth Day to buy themselves a green image they don't deserve. We've made a special Earth Day episode of Greenwash of the Week to explore this topic. Enjoy!