Sunday, January 30, 2011

BP Oil: Murderer of Workers! Killer of the Planet!

On April 20, 210, a fire aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig led to an explosion.  This explosion lead to one of the the largest ecological disasters in American history, realizing more oil into the ocean then the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska.  What is often left is that the explosion the unleashed the horror onto Louisiana's coast also caused the death for 11 workers.  There names where:

Jason Anderson
Aaron Dale Burkeen
Donald Clark
Stephen Curtis
Roy Wyatt Kemp
Karl Kleppinger
Gordon Jones (M-I SWACO)
Blair Manuel (M-I SWACO)
Dewey Revette
Shane Roshto
Adam Weise

(Their bodies have never been found, but all are presumed dead. You can leave condolences for the workers' families by clicking here.)

The most recent issue of Earth First! Journal, there is a very good article about how oil companies play off fears of unemployment to turn workers against environmentalists.   The following is a quote: 

When black plumes of oil began gushing forth from the silent bottom deep in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, everyone in South Louisiana reverted to the crisis mode we have all lived in for periods of time since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Our first question became "What can we do to help save our wetlands?" Thousands of willing Louisianians signed up to volunteer in the protection and cleanup efforts, and people began planning to carpool down the road to the coast to help out.

Like a mine explosion, an outbreak of smallpox, or a chestnut blight, BP's oil spill looked like just another disaster, a tragic mistake made by benevolent capitalists. But like those past tragedies, this oil spill is a predictable consequence of an industrial civilization where risks are not calculated by those who will face the consequences should something go wrong. There was no doubt that a deepwater oil spill could rob people of their landbase and their ability to feed themselves, but that consequence was considered an acceptable risk by those who do not live in South Louisiana: Those affected by a spill could just move to the city and work for money to buy their food if something did happen, right?. As is always the case, the people weighing these risks were not those who would be denied the ability to feed themselves; they were lawyers, CEOs and businessmen in corporate offices—where shrimp cocktail plates and grilled fish greet their conference room meetings exactly at 12:30 p.m., every day.

Are the benefits worth the risks? Ask the fishermen and shrimpers and bayou people who live off of the bounty of South Louisiana: is oil drilling worth the risk of destroying the ability of Louisianans to eat seafood and live on the coast? They were never consulted. These decisions were made in business offices, and after the proper campaign contributions, they were dutifully echoed in the halls of Congress. They can still be heard to this day in those halls, far from the shattered ecosystems of South Louisiana. They call for an end to the moratorium on new drilling, and use the fear of poverty by those who want jobs to amplify their charade. Even though their fishermen neighbors have been devastated by the spill, politicians scare oil workers that have no other employment options into echoing their big oil agenda. In spite of miles of toxic, oiled marshes, 5,000 dead pelicans and other birds, more than 500 dead sea turtles, and ten times the oil of the Exxon Valdez spill contaminating our homeland, the oil-funded fear-mongers in DC can only bring themselves to ask for more of the same and threaten us with poverty if we don’t give in.  
 To read the rest of the article, click here.

We are in a place where we need to develop an environmental movement that bridges the gap between workers economic concerns, and the rights of the earth.  We cannot let big oil threaten us with poverty if we don't give into it's ecocide.    The environment is not an "outside concern" of middle-class hippies.

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