From Aleah: On April 20th, 2010, in a corner of the world not so far away from you and I, lives were lost, people were injured, and as that black crude began to spill at an ever-increasing rate into the surrounding waters where marine life had formerly thrived, the world was changed forever.
I am not the first person – nor will I be the last – to say that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico is my generation’s equivalent to the Exxon Valdez spill of 1989. I was only one year old when the Exxon Valdez spill occurred, but I have heard about it all my life. Now, our children – and possibly their children depending on the extent of the spill once the total damage is estimated – will learn about this disaster and how the corporate world got away unscathed yet again.
Or will they? What if our children – and our children’s children – could hear about how students and teachers and parents and elderly folks and children all came together to push the U.S. government to slam BP, Halliburton, Transocean and hold them accountable for the spill? What if they heard about how this was the spill that woke Americans and the world up to the dangers of offshore drilling? What if 1 out of every 50 people in the United States called their state representatives and told them to hold these multinational corporations accountable and to put an end to offshore drilling? And what if 1 in 10,000 people in the United States volunteered part of their summer to help stop this kind of disaster from ever happening again?What if we changed this horrible disaster into something positive?
We can change climate policy in this country, and if you ever needed one reason to pick up your chin and start working towards a positive change for the US and the world, then let this be it.
World leaders failed to represent us fairly at Copenhagen and now the Obama administration is failing to represent us fairly by refusing to put an end to offshore drilling. Let’s get together and fight for the human lives that were lost on board the Deepwater Horizon, let’s fight for the communities who will be effected directly by the spill in the coming months, let’s fight for the oil soaked birds and dolphins and marine life that will suffer greatly and die slowly because of this spill, let’s fight against the big-wigs in government and industry who are sleeping peacefully at night while chaos is ensuing off the coast of Mexico and the southern United States. Let’s fight to close the revolving door of corporate and government interest and get Big Corporations the heck out of our government! Let's fight.
Let this spill be remembered not only for its grossly negative impacts on animal, human and plant life, but for the positivity that exploded from it and changed the world forever.
The Exxon Valdez polluted the Arctic with 11 million gallons of crude oil in 1989 – the impacts of that spill are with us up to this very day. I was but a youngin’ when this disaster struck. Today, 21 years later, I’m living with a much, much larger disaster.
46 days ago another big corporate polluter, BP wrought a new mega-disaster on our planet. Government estimates from the US Geological Survey make BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster that began on April 20th approximately twice as big as the Exxon Valdez – between 17 and 39 million gallons of crude in our Gulf and still gushing.
In 1989 I was old enough to grasp the tragedy of the Exxon Valdez but not yet able to act, to do something that would make an impact on the problem of polluters destroying our planet. With the BP disaster still unfolding and another corporate polluter attempting to push more drilling, bully more politicians, and create more pollution – I was able to act yesterday.
Royal Shell wants a new drilling project in the Arctic. The Obama Administration sits on the fence – go ahead with more drilling because Shell said so or… put the brakes on a project with proven incalculable dangers?
If there’s anything I’ve learned from this disaster it’s that Exxon is the same as BP is the same as Shell, is the same as every corporate polluter – they put profits ahead of the planet and human lives - and they must be stopped.
Today, thanks to your work, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar put in place an extended ban on new offshore drilling in the Arctic, blocking Shell’s moves to tap another precious landscape for polluter profits. YOU got the word out and hammered on Salazar – over 3,100 Greenpeace activists called the Secretary’s office to demand no drilling in the Arctic and nearly 30,000 of you plastered his email inbox.
On the ground – 7 Greenpeace activists painted a Royal Shell ship in the Gulf of Mexico with actual oil from the spill to deliver the message “Arctic Next?” Secretary Salazar responded to this action but headed to a hearing at the House Natural Resources Committee to talk more about the possibility of more drilling in the Arctic. We mobilized quickly and got inside the hearing.
2 other Greenpeace activists and I waited for Salazar to begin his testimony and brought your voices, your demands, your outrage right into the room.
24 hours later, the White House announced an extended BAN on this project. When we push with full force, with your calls, your friends emails, and our actions – we win. This ban is a huge win for our oceans and for saying no to corporate polluters. But it’s not permanent and our work is not done. The only way to avoid another spill disaster is to ban offshore oil drilling. For good.
The message was directed at Interior Secretary Ken Salazar who, only miles away inspecting the Gulf at the time, has the power to cancel Shell’s Arctic program.
Shell hopes to begin drilling off of Alaska’s North Slope this summer. It could be a bigger disaster than what we’re seeing in the Gulf with BP. There is simply no effective way to respond to a spill in the Arctic.
The activists were joined by each of you who helped carry this message to Secretary Salazar. So far over 27,600 emails have been sent and over 2,900 calls have been made to the Secretary!
Salazar is expected to make his decision this week on whether to allow Shell to begin drilling in the Arctic Ocean. This is a crucial opportunity to protect the Arctic. We all need to join these activists and work together to make sure Salazar keeps hearing our message! If you haven’t sent your message, please do so now. If you have already called, call again and get your friends to call as well.
The seven activists were arrested in the Gulf face heavy-handed charges. As Greenpeace Executive Director Phil Radford puts it, these charges are a “a disproportionate response to the peaceful protest that took place while not a single BP executive has been charged for the devastation they have wrought on the Gulf of Mexico.”
All this left me wondering what comes next so I asked my friend and Gulf activist, David. Here’s what he had to say:
“Well, I am truly inspired that thousands of Americans took action with me to prevent drilling in the Arctic Ocean. If we all keep this kind of pressure on Salazar, he’ll cancel Shell’s program and prevent what happened in the Gulf from happening in the Arctic.”
I couldn’t agree more.
It’s likely the case for 2 million people in the tri-state area including myself. DuPont’s two chemical plants in Edge Moor, DE and Deepwater, NJ store up to 6 million pounds of chlorine gas that could be released in an accident or an attack on the facility
Chlorine gas was used as a chemical agent in World War I. It literally melts victims’ lungs.
My childhood home in Malvern, PA, a northwest suburb of Philadelphia, is in the Deepwater plant’s vulnerability zone – a 25 mile radius out – that could be affected by such a disaster, according to the worst-case scenario filed by DuPont with the EPA. Ditto for the Philadelphia rowhouse I lived in during college, which is also in the Edge Moor plant’s vulnerability zone.
Perhaps even more shocking is that DuPont could easily switch to safer processes that would eliminate the risk. Last November, Clorox announced it would convert its facilities to safer alternatives, which removed the risk for 13 million Americans. Instead, DuPont spends millions of dollars on lobbying which has included blocking real chemical security legislation for nine years.
Ironically, DuPont’s CEO Ellen Kullman rose to her current position from a safety and protection unit of the company, which began flourishing after 9/11. But apparently she only cares about the safety of people who can buy her products and that’s why I and other activists took action to expose DuPont’s indifference.
Our inspection of the plants began early as I helped launch Greenpeace’s new airship, whose flight path mimicked how a chlorine gas plume could leave the Edge Moor plant. I then met up with our ground crew to document the rail cars full of chlorine gas on the premises while our boats in the Delaware River did the same. We delivered our failed inspection report to the plant’s management and then headed off to Deepwater to do the same.
By air, land, and water, we saw that conventional security measures like fences are not enough. We shouldn’t wait for another catastrophe, like the Massey mining accident in West Virginia or the BP oil disaster in the Gulf, to examine how we could have prevented them.
More than 100 million people are endangered by 300 high risk plants across the country. Tell your senator to co-sponsor the “Secure Chemical and Water Facilities Act” and stand up to DuPont and the chemical lobby.
Last week, Campus Coordinator Brinkley Hutchings gave an update from Alabama on what's happening with the Deepwater Disaster after she flew over the spill. This past Monday, she flew over it for a second time. This is one of the unnerving sights she saw from the plane window:
Imagine looking down at a MASSIVE amount of oil creeping towards the shore, a place with such amazing biodiversity that you spent hours upon hours exploring it as a kid. And then you see the booms set out to catch the oil, and protect your playground, in absolute disarray. Read Brinkley's account of that very sight.
There are a lot of unaswered questions about the Deepwater Disaster. However, we do know with certainty that we can't "fix" oil spills. We can only prevent them. Unfortunately, Ken Salazar, the Secretary of the Department of Interior, is poised to grant Shell the green light to begin exploratory drilling in the Arctic waters off Alaska this summer. Join me in asking Secretary Salazar to do everything he can to prevent disasters like this from happening ever again.
This proposal, supported by the US delegation to the IWC (which is hand-picked by the Obama Administration) would legitimize commercial whaling and provide quotas for hunting whales that are based on current catch rates rather than scientific data. Ultimately, decades of steps forward for whale conservation would be set back by such a decision, and it is imperative that President Obama hear from concerned Americans that they do not support the legalization of whaling.
In California, every coastal county is mobilizing to hold “Save the Whales” rallies on May 23rd to urge President Obama to oppose the resumption of commercial whaling. Just last week, the Los Angeles Times published an editorial condemning the IWC’s proposal. And a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of working with an ENTIRE CITY to pass a resolution in opposition to the resumption of commercial whaling!
Our work with West Hollywood to pass an anti-whaling resolution on May 3rd started with Los Angeles Frontliner John Brady, who connected me with Mayor Pro Tempore John Duran and his Deputy, Hernan Molina. West Hollywood has worked for many years to advocate for stronger environmental protections and conservation measures, so this effort was something that was incredibly important for them to take on. Over the course of a few weeks, a resolution was drafted that was unanimously passed by the West Hollywood City Council on their May 3rd meeting.
“Our oceans and marine mammals are suffering as a result of increased man-made pollution and global warming,” said West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tempore John J. Duran, the author of the resolution. “Resuming commercial whaling is unacceptable and will lead to further stresses in whale populations, leading to permanent damages. Whales are sentient beings that are an intrinsic part of our oceans’ ecosystems, which are already suffering as a result of poorly thought environmental practices,” added Mayor Pro Tempore Duran.
Here at Greenpeace we want to thank the leadership of Mayor Pro Tempore Duran, West Hollywood and other cities around the US that are taking collective action for the whales by passing resolutions opposing the IWC’s whale hunt proposal. Take action for the whales yourself by signing our petition today!
Laila in Boulder, CO created the photo above telling the President to keep his promise to save the whales. What image will YOU submit?
On June 3rd, Greenpeace and a coalition of other groups will be making a special delivery to the White House -- dropping off postcards, petition signatures, origami whales and other items we’ve been collecting. Also included in that delivery will be the special images created by activists just like you showing the President that you are serious about holding him to his promise.
Download the toolkit and make sure your image is seen on June 3rd.
President Obama’s delegation to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) is publicly backing a plan that would legitimize commercial whaling for the first time in over 20 years. In fact, Monica Medina -- the head of the US IWC delegation -- recently had this to say to Congress: “We believe that the proposal represents a meaningful step forward, and is a possible foundation towards achieving a functioning IWC..." This is serious and we don’t have much time to stop them.
That’s why we’re asking activists like you to submit creative photos that will show President Obama that Americans are serious about saving the whales. Every photo we receive in time will be delivered directly to the White House on June 3rd.
Download the toolkit and join our photos to save the whales campaign today.
The toolkit is full of examples and tips on how to take a great photo. The most important thing right now is to come up with an idea and start making it happen -- figuring out a location, setting a date/time, inviting your friends and getting everything around that you’ll need for the photo.
The deadline for photo submissions is May 26th but photos taken by activists just like you are already rolling in from all over the country. You can check them out on our flickr account.
Yesterday in Washington DC,
BP denied fault in the
Deepwater Disaster oil spill.
Get these polluters out of America's energy policy. Take action today!
Yesterday, as BP and 2 other corporations implicated in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster sat down in front of Congress to deny fault in this tragedy, I joined up with dozens of activists who were in the streets to call for an end to destructive, dirty energy like offshore oil and demand clean energy solutions.
I was late - rushing around Washington with an umbrella on my arm as some spring rain came down - and was tempted to just head back to the office and check out the tweets and photos popping up on flickr. But speaking out about the disaster is too important to just read about it.
BP's oil spill in the Gulf has been commanding so much of my attention lately, when I’m awake & in my dreams. On track to be the largest and most destructive spill in American history, this was finally an opportunity to be present in a show of opposition to BP's neglect and inexcusable destruction of our coast. I believe this will be a defining moment for our generation - Where were you when the oil was spilling? Where were you when the Gulf was dying? So I stopped my uncertain walking and started jogging towards the White House.
Polluters like BP have been lobbying Congress for years to relax important safety and environmental regulations, assuring me and you and all of our friends that they've truly got our best interests at heart and we should just leave them to their drilling. Today the people of Washington DC and environmental activists like yours truly – representing the millions of Americans like you who want a clean energy revolution to move our society away from dirty fossil fuels – got loud at our government. “This is what happens,” one of them said to me, “when you let polluters write your energy policy.” Untold hectares of ocean become deadzone. Thousands of Gulf Coast families' livelihoods are destroyed. Birds, fish, whales, and turtles are given an oil slick for a habitat. And those same polluters continue to deny their role in the tragedy.
For me, signing petitions has become a force of habit: it's how we can build movements to challenge the status quo. It's not THE answer but it's a step in a path that can right these kinds of wrongs. Getting out and into the face of politicians (like our President) that have foolishly supported these polluters is another step. And now I'm asking you to do that stuff too. We can't go quiet on this disaster.
BP is spending millions not on a clean up but on a public relations effort to trick us into thinking they're doing all they can. Well I'm callin 'greenwash' on that - If we let BP get away with this, we'll have another fossil fuels tragedy on our hands in a matter of years courtesy of another corporate polluter. If we let Congress feel self-important and accomplished because they called a pomp and circumstance hearing on the disaster yesterday, they'll introduce an energy policy loaded with more hand outs to their buddies in the industry today (no really - today! The Senate introduced a lame-brain climate bill that's really just our tax dollars given to polluters with a fancy title).
We chartered a boat with a shrimp fisherman whose livelihood has been taken away by the spill. After Hurricane Katrina, he had built up a lucrative shrimping business, but BP has put it to a halt. With the Gulf closed to fishing for the foreseeable future because of a toxic stew of oil and dispersant chemicals, there isn’t much work for him. Most of the other fishermen have gone to work for BP cleaning up the oil, but the pay is too low for him to support his family.
There is a sense among everyone that I talk to that the worst is yet to come. Closed fishing grounds are only the beginning of what will become the worst environmental disaster to hit this country. BP has been parading around talking about containment domes, booms and dispersant, but the truth is that they can’t contain the 200,000 gallons a day that are gushing from the Deepwater drill site. The environment and people’s lives are being ripped to shreds in the Gulf. And the worst thing is that this all could have been prevented.
We need everyone outside of the region to take action in their community to expose the BP disaster and pressure your elected officials to oppose future offshore drilling in the Gulf, Atlantic, Arctic, and everywhere else. This spill is a stark reminder of the cost of our country’s addiction to fossil fuels and the influence that energy corporations have on our government. There’s a better way than this. I’m sure of it.
A Greenpeace campus coordinator grew up on the Alabama Coast. She flew over the Deepwater Disaster oil spill for the first time this past weekend. Here is her account:
I feel sick. Completely sick. The oil is creeping toward my home in Alabama as I write this, and it is breaking my heart.
I grew up in one of the most beautiful places. Fairhope, Alabama. Barrier islands, bays, rivers, creeks, and the Gulf were all my playing grounds. At 7 years old, I was packing my lunch and spending the whole day exploring them in my little 13 foot boat. All the beautiful trees, wildlife and pristine waters, all will see the thick black oil and red oil dispersant within these next days. It brings a deeper ache than I can express.
As I flew out to the spill last Friday with my father (he’s a pilot), I wasn’t prepared for what I was going to witness.
Here are some notes I took during the flight as we approached the source of this disaster:
“We are starting to smell oil...the pungent smell burns my nostrils and I feel nauseated to the core of my being….oh my God…streaks of oil are everywhere…thick black near the well…it is crude oil and it stretches as far as I can see…I am sick…I can’t feel my own body or distinguish any of my feelings right now… this is the worst and most saddening situation I have ever seen in my life…The boats are randomly skewn about, and they are so disorganized! The cleanup efforts look completely haphazard and ineffective. It is utter chaos down there! Boats randomly placed pulling booms, swirling the oil around in circles! I really don’t feel alive right now…this is a horrible dream…why the heck are we drilling offshore - we don't need to drill offshore!”
Click here to continue reading Brinkley's update.
They weren’t happy that they had to give me an “Entergy Stockholder” sticker, but it was official. After coffee and a pastry I strolled into the meeting room to grab a seat. They were playing “…you gotta know when to Fold, know when to walk, know when to run…” on repeat and I couldn’t help thinking how appropriate that was considering our reason for being there. Entergy needs to know that it’s time to fold, and throw in their cards on Vermont Yankee. Around 10:00 AM the hundred or so attending filed in and the fun started. By fun I mean the re-election of the board, approval of the management compensation plan, and ratification of the company accountants. Yawn. Literally.
While the ballots were supposedly passed around and people supposedly voted (not really) the CEO J. Wayne Leonard gave an hour long presentation on the company history, why they have failed to get their terrible Enexus spin off idea approved, and why the Vermont senate voted 26 to 4 to close Vermont Yankee. The presentation was done with two themes, gambling and “Gone with the Wind.” They proudly touted that they are gambling with our energy future in the hope that they win big for their shareholders. Of course, it is the people of Vermont and the environment who will lose as they continue to fight to keep leaky Vermont Yankee running, not to mention the rest of their aging fleet. Their other theme addressed their belief that Vermonters and New Yorkers simply don’t understand the way business was done in the South. Well, I’m not sure about that metaphor, but we certainly don’t want this aging nuclear reactor here in Vermont, or anywhere for that matter. Of course, when that plant is standing in the way of our clean energy future, I really hope that it will be gone with wind power.
That’s why we were there, of course, to deliver a message from Vermont that the people of the Green Mountain State have spoken and demand that Entergy respect the will vermonters and cease their attempts to relicense the plant and get a Certificate of Public Good. How did we do that? After the hour and half presentation and few minutes of voting the shareholders, board of directors, and upper management adjourned to the dining room and were greeted by a letter from Greenpeace. This ruffled a few feathers and a frantic event organizer called “Security Security” and two nice men from the local Sherrif’s office escorted us out of the room. We spent a few minutes talking to a director and some upper management, explaining our purpose, and then left, confident that Entergy got the message.
The people of Vermont have spoken, and we will not back down to a big corporation that cares more about profits for its shareholders than the people that its business serves.
If you're not in the area, the most important thing right now is to help make sure this never happens again. Take action now to tell Congress that pending climate legislation must not contain any provisions that would expand offshore drilling and continue our dependence on fossil fuels.
There are also a few toolkits that you can use to take action in your own community. These toolkits will guide you through how to write a letter to the editor of your local paper, and how to hold a rally and tell Congress that its time to wake up and ban new offshore drilling. The third is some basic messaging and info that you can have at your disposal.
- BP Deepwater Disaster Letter to the Editor Toolkit
- BP Deepwater Disaster Organize a Rally Toolkit
- BP Deepwater Disaster: Field Message and FAQ
|Click here to check out all of our blogs and photos, find the latest news, and take action to prevent the next oil spill|
We CAN prevent the next oil spill if we speak up loud enough to make President Obama and Congress listen. But it will take all of us speaking out together.
If you're looking for even more ways to get involved and help make a difference, consider joining the Greenpeace Activist Network.
A group of Middlebury College students organized the race as a kick-off to their campaign to replace Vermont Yankee with 100% renewable power. They will be working throughout the summer to pressure gubernatorial candidates to stand by the Senate’s vote to close Vermont Yankee. The rally at the State House was attended by 100 community members, the press, and our good friend Will Bates from 350.org. After speeches by the candidates, 50 hearty souls set off on their bikes on a corker of a day for the 40-mile ride from Montpelier to Burlington.
They rode past solar panels and wind turbines and dozens of local farms that drive the sustainable food movement in Vermont. At one point, a 1972 Pontiac (built the same year as Vermont Yankee) was found broken down on the side of a country road.
I drove a support vehicle most of the way, and it was an inspiring day. We’ve still got a lot of work to do to make sure that the reactor closes in 2012, and this was an important statement.
You see, Entergy refuses to respect the decision of Vermonters. Communities have been living in the shadow of the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor for four decades, and they’ve had to deal with mishaps, screw-ups and radioactive contamination for far too long. Unfortunately, Entergy wishes only to maximize their profits and have pledged to fight to overturn the vote of our citizen legislators. They’re pouring buckets of money into Vermont to sway public opinion through advertisements and greenwashing.
But it’s becoming clear that Vermonters are fed up with a multibillion-dollar corporation telling them what to do. Citizens around the state continue to stand up to show that they are done with Entergy’s leaks and lies. As our state Senate declared with a 26-4 vote, the Vermont Yankee reactor must close in 2012 so that we can usher in a clean energy revolution.
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