Thursday, April 29, 2010

Louisiana's Dance with the Devil

by Woody Martin, Delta Chapter Chair

A major source of the wealth in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast now once again shows its dark side. Along with the oil industry canals, pipelines and access locations that have slashed Louisiana’s fragile coastal wetlands to ribbons we now have impending environmental and economic disaster in the form of a 100 x 40 mile oil slick in the Gulf riding winds out of the southeast toward the Louisiana coast. Arrival of our black oil guest is projected for late on Friday, April 30.

British Petroleum, the company responsible for the oil rig disaster and spill was slow to alert us to the seriousness of the threat, saying for too long that it was something they could handle. Flyovers by Gulf Restoration Network showed us a huge oil slick with very few boats out there trying to do anything. Finally yesterday BP asked for federal help and the coast guard started trying to burn off some of the oil. Experts tell us that even if such efforts are successful the most that can be removed is about 20 percent of the oil. So there is no stopping this oil slick monster now.

Your Sierra Club Delta Chapter has been involved in numerous conference calls and planning around what our response should be. The coordinated response of our group of environmental advocacy organizations will now focus on the following: 1) Wildlife rescue and habitat preservation, 2) calls for criminal investigation of BP and increased regulation of the industry, and 3) call for a moratorium on expansion of drilling off our coasts.

We are issuing an invitation for President Barack Obama to visit the coast and fly with us over the damage (not in Airforce 1 as Bush did in Katrina) so the president can see for himself. The invitation will also go to EPA Administrator and former New Orleans resident Lisa Jackson. Our message is that this disaster should be a top federal priority. Our message also is that the Easy Oil Is Gone. As our fossil fuel addicted economy goes farther and deeper for coal and oil the risks of environmental devastation and loss of human life will increase. This country needs a comprehensive energy policy and legislation that puts a price on carbon and moves us away from dirty coal and oil toward clean energy solutions. We already have the technology, but we have been lacking the political will to establish an energy economy that provides a level playing field on which renewable and clean energy can compete. It is unfortunate that once again it takes a disaster to focus attention on an issue which demands corrective action.

The Delta Chapter will be in ongoing communication with other environmental groups, government agencies and nonprofit organizations. We will be advising on how you can help to work on the cleanup and how you can help us to pass clean energy legislation. You can always contact me at to let me know you are interested in helping or to obtain further information.


Anonymous said...

It's Thursday 6PM and there's a petrochem smell in our neighborhood near the Huey P. Long Bridge. It wasn't here at 2:30PM but a co-worker and I both developed headaches after going outside for lunch. We need to know what other symptoms to expect & how to protect ourselves.

Anonymous said...

My daughter is going to school at UNO. She is pregnant. She has one more year of school. The smell of oil is making her fearful for her unborn baby. She's thinking of not returning to school next year. Will she be safe if she returns?

Woody Martin said...

Some oil cleanup workers who experienced symptoms such as headaches, nausea, chest congestion have gone for medical attention since starting to work on the oil disaster. I would suggest anyone experiencing any of these symptoms go see a doctor.

Michelle said...

Where specifically are you doing your cleanup? How can I get involved locally?