Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Interview with Jeb Bell of Georgia Regarding the Sabal Trail Pipeline (VIDEO)



Eminent Domain is Real and Landowner Rights Don’t Matter!
Interview by Anita Stewart for Deep Green Resistance.

Many in the regional southeast of the U.S. know very little or nothing at all about the Sabal Trail Pipeline that is being constructed now and projected to be completed in May of 2017. This pipeline will be moving fracked gas (methane) from Alabama through southeast Georgia and intersecting almost the entire state of Florida. It is important to note that this project was approved and construction has begun. In addition, there are storage areas, staging facilities and compressor stations all along the 515-mile route. 

Many people along the route or in close proximity, renters included are not even aware that this pipeline is being constructed so close to their homes and property. In total, approximately 160 eminent domain lawsuits have been filed by Sabal Trail including the one involving the Bell brothers. Now the Bell brothers are involved in a legal precedent to pay for Sabal Trail’s legal fees to the tune of $47,000.

After reading Jeb's heartbreaking story on a Fusion article that was also reprinted in Newsweek and interacting a bit with him on the social networks, I had an opportunity to interview him (from Mitchell County, Georgia) on September 20, 2016. I thought his story was important and needed to be retold, as his legal eminent domain precedent can happen to any landowner at any time. Eminent Domain is making theft of land from landowners legal if the corporations are doing it. http://fusion.net/.../southeast-gas-highway-upsets.../

The Bell family’s GO FUND ME page to help with their legal fees (VIDEO): https://www.gofundme.com/2pgabdvh

LINKS: See more at:

Link to audio file: https://fccdl.in/4286Ak0CS

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Shell Oil Spill Cleanup Operation Ends As Voices Against New Gulf Drilling Grow Louder


Five days after Royal Dutch Shell reported an estimated 88,000 gallon crude oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico from its operations in the Glider field, the oil company and the U.S. Coast Guard agreed to halt skimming operations used in the cleanup because they were no longer finding recoverable oil. 
Both entities stated that no environmental damage has been reported, but independent monitors from Greenpeace, Vanishing Earth and Wings Of Care question whether the size and potential impact of the spill are being downplayed. 
News of Shell’s oil spill 90 miles south of Louisiana’s Timbalier Island came the day before the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) hosted a final week of public meetings on the Gulf Coast to give the public a chance to comment on itsFive Year Plan 2017-2022 oil leasing program. Its plan calls for lease sales of 47 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas companies for offshore drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf. 
Shell contracted Clean Gulf Associates and Marine Spill Response Corporation (MSRC) for the cleanup operation. MSRC, one of the companies BP used to clean up its 2010 spill, dumped the dispersant Corexit in the Gulf.
This time, “dispersant wasn’t used,” the Coast Guard told DeSmog. The Coast Guard and Shell agreed that using on-water recovery vessels and skimming would be the best oil recovery option. 
Environmental scientist Wilma Subra, though pleased dispersant wasn't used, told DeSmog, “Skimming is not a very good oil recovery option.” 
Subra believes that if skimming is the best cleanup method the Coast Guard and oil companies can come up with, it shows they are no better prepared for an oil spill than they were when the BP oil disaster occurred. 

Shell oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. ©2016 Jonathan Henderson
Environmental watchdog group SkyTruth concurred with Subra. They described the oil spill cleanup response as a bad joke. Last Saturday, Greenpeace photographed the site, taking with them Jonathan Henderson, founder of Vanishing Earth, who also documented the spill.
I counted three vessels skimming oil,” Henderson told DeSmog. “It’s ridiculous that our federal government has basically sat back and allowed this industry to invest the vast majority of its money on exploration and extraction and not nearly the level of investment in response technology that is so critical whenever something like this goes wrong.”
On Wings of Care, another environmental watchdog group, flew Dr. Ian MacDonald of Florida State University over the spill site on Sunday. SkyTruth’s blog revealed that
Dr. MacDonald observed that the response vessels seemed to be missing the thickest parts of the slick and were generally making very little headway, despite operating under fairly calm conditions (average wind speed of 7 knots recorded at Brutus TLP over this time period), nearly ideal for oil cleanup operations.”
Oil spill response vessels grossly underperform,” SkyTruth stated. Five spill response vessels were dispatched including four skimming vessels, according to Shell and the Coast Guard.  
Not only was the cleanup effort not state of the art, the fact it took a pilot to spot the oil slick indicates Shell’s “pipeline leak detection is unreliable,” SkyTruth’s blog stated. 
“That’s right: a modern pipeline at a high-tech deepwater development project leaked thousands of gallons of oil, and that leak was accidentally discovered. Not because high-tech telemetry on the pipeline signaled an alarm due to a drop in pressure; not because flow metering detected a difference between what was going in one end of the pipe vs. what was coming out the other.“ 
Both Shell and the Coast Guard stated that there has been no reported impact on wildlife. But Subra said it is impossible for an oil spill of this size not to have environmental consequences. 
Of course organisms at the spill site were impacted,” Subra said. “Some fish at the site must have died and other fish and mammals will get sick from the oil.”  
A Shell press release identified an underwater flow line near its Brutus platform as the source of the leak and stated the damaged section “has been isolated.” 
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) is leading an investigation to determine the cause of the release. The agency has approved Shell’s plan to resume production at the Brutus platform though part of Shell’s Gilder operations remain “shut-in.”
Whatever the cause of the leak, Shell acknowledged that no spill is acceptable, a point environmentalists and activists have reiterated, while objecting to BOEM’s latest 5-year plans to lease an additional 47 million acres in the Gulf for drilling.
Cherri Foytlin of Bold Louisiana created a petition insisting any new oil development follow through on President Obama’s promise to “change the way we manage our oil and coal resources so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet.”
Bold Louisiana calls for an end to all new leasing in the Gulf. 

Cherri Foytlin with one of her sons at a protest against BOEM’s Gulf of Mexico lease sale in the Superdome in New Orleans ©2016 Julie Dermansky

Jonathan Henderson at a rally before a protest against BOEM’s Gulf of Mexico lease sale in the Superdome in New Orleans. ©2016 Julie Dermansky
While we did not successfully stop the auction,” Henderson said, “never before in history has the industry been confronted like this in this region and the momentum from that historical day will continue forward.” 
A Gulf Coast delegation that converged on the Superdome also took part in “Break Free” protests, demonstrations that took place on six continents calling for bold action to break free from fossil fuels.
At the Washington DC  “Break Free” protest on May 15, activists called out Shell’s latest oil spill as an example of why offshore drilling must be stopped. 
BOEM held public meetings across the Gulf Coast this week that Foytlin encouraged people to participate in.
“We are not willing to let the Gulf of Mexico be a sacrifice zone any longer. Further, we are calling for a just transition for all of our communities to a clean, green economy, one that is both respectful to the life-giving systems of our planet and truly benefits the people of our region.” Foytlin told DeSmog.
She doesn’t think coastal communities are sustainable if nothing is done to protect them, and expanding drilling in the Gulf is a move in the wrong direction. 
Though Shell and the Coast Guard are quick to point out none of the oil from the Shell spill has been found on Louisiana’s beaches, Subra said she would be surprised if none of it washes up on the Louisiana coast.
It is impossible to dismiss environmental impacts from even a small spill,” Subra said, “and an 88,000 gallon spill is significant.”
Main image credit: Jonathan Henderson with other activists protesting against BOEM’s Gulf of Mexico lease sale in the Superdome in New Orleans ©2016 Julie Dermansky 

Monday, May 16, 2016

March Against Monsanto Spring Hill, Florida and Beyond


MARCH AGAINST MONSANTO TAMPA
OCTOBER 2013
PHOTO BY ANITA STEWART
Monsanto = Dioxin, Glyphosate, Roundup and Agent Orange and are legally poisoning our food and the environment. It must stop.

By Anita Stewart
May 15, 2016

Latest news reports on Monsanto’s Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the popular weed-killer, Roundup indicate that it is present in California winesQuaker Oats and even in the urine of elected officials in Europe.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, Roundup is made by Monsanto. Same Monsanto that produced Agent Orange (an earlier chemical was Dioxin) which is responsible for the ongoing, horrific birth defects in Viet Nam where it was widely used as a defoliant and sprayed from planes into the bush and over remote villages. These chemicals also affect the US children of those active duty military and veterans that were exposed. What is chilling is the fact that these chemicals have also been either stored or used here in the United States.

Agent Orange is connected to the 25% of Veterans testing positive for Diabetes 2 per the VA’s own website–the general population is at 8-10%. (As soon as you are diagnosed through the VA with Diabetes 2, the second question is “to your knowledge, were you ever exposed to Agent Orange?” So the VA is well aware of this connection).

The VA will not pay out any monies/disability to Agent Orange victims unless the veteran was stationed in Viet Nam. Per the veterans themselves and some of their most recent reports, Agent Orange was not used, stored or transported exclusively in Viet Nam.

The Risks are Supposed to be Secret on this Globe Full of Victims

50% of our general population will get cancer during their lifetime or have it already. And this directly affects all of us as many of us have loved ones with cancer or know someone that has died from it. Those of us who got our diagnosis already are working hard at staying alive. We will live the rest of our lives constantly detoxing. Some of us who are veterans have both cancer and diabetes and both conditions are connected to the use of Agent Orange and other Monsanto chemicals per the VA's own website. We have probably been poisoned.

The important thing to note about these reports is that the IARC, a World Health Organization working group of doctors published their findings last year showing that Roundup’s Glyphosate “probably causes cancer.” Their report was posted on the LANCET website last year. Immediately after the report was published, Monsanto demanded a retraction of the IARC’s findings but they never got it.

From March Against Monsanto: "In a recent article by EcoWatch, it was revealed that the EPA had finally released its long-awaited report on the WHO declaration, only to mysteriously pull it from circulation (check out the full article here).

These are ways that corporate media, news outlets and government agencies censor, omit or create a critical buzz regarding information and attempt to keep it from those who need it most; like journalists, victims and medical workers. And of course to cover up the crimes by the corporations and any possibility of them being held accountable.

The other alarming trends and side effects of the regular use of these toxins includes the killing off of our pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, birds, etc. Some of these populations are now collapsing. We are already losing approximately 200 species a day due to extinction. Without the pollinators, we will not be able to sustain our current food supplies.

Will we be next? Some scientists say we are at extinction levels now. Many questions need to be raised about the continued use of these toxins. Roundup is the one most widely used in the US and at the same time, is being banned in many other countries.

This planet is Gaia because of her evolutionary adaptive capacity. The only question to ask is will human beings be around in that adaptive context,” Dr. Vandana Shiva, Eckerd College, March 9, 2015.

Our Demands and Why We March

Labeling GMOs or genetically modified organisms in our food products and produce is the other reason why we march. I believe at the very LEAST companies should be accurately labeling them, but I would prefer the permanent banning of all GMO products. March Against Monsanto calls for two events a year: in May and October. The events are to increase awareness about the need for labeling food that contains GMO’s. This would give the consumers all of the information they need to know so they can make educated choices for themselves and their families.

March Against Monsanto will be present at a hearing at the Hague in October 2016 to correspond with World Food Day. You can help crowdfund and organize that event. (CLICK HERE)

All of this is why we march EVERYWHERE ON THE GLOBE May 21st, 2016. Join us! We are really marching for the right to not be poisoned anymore.
WEBSITE:
http://www.march-against-monsanto.com/home/ (Look for your local city’s march)
Facebook Event Page for Tampa:
Facebook Event Page for Spring Hill/Brooksville:
https://www.facebook.com/events/512430905613773/

I want to take it a step further.
I call for a permanent ban on Roundup and other similar agro-chemicals.
And a boycott of anyone that is using them. We are literally marching for our lives.
Who is with me?

MARCH AGAINST MONSANTO TAMPA
MAY 2014
PHOTO BY ANITA STEWART

Monsanto Continues to Strong Arm Truth:

***This article originally published by the Hernando Phoenix in Brooksville/Spring Hill, Florida.
***http://www.hernandophoenix.com/march-monsanto-spring-hill-beyond/



Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Environmentalists Join Forces in New Orleans To Foster A Growing Alliance to Combat Climate Change and Fossil Fuels

It is time we wake up the world to stop abusing and destroying a gift of life – before it is too late,” Chief Arvol Looking Horse from South Dakota said to a group of environmentalists from across the country who joined him at a water ceremony on the shore of the Mississippi River in New Orleans on World Water Day.  
The ceremony took place on the fourth day of programming hosted by the environmental advocacy group Indigena, on climate change and communities fighting against it.

“Creative alliances are formed when you are invited to come together,” Janet MacGillivray, Esq., with Indigena, told DeSmog. “That’s what we did with the four days of gatherings at the New Orleans Healing Center.”

Keeper of the Mountains Foundation president Paul Corbit Brown, and Jane Kleeb, founder of Bold Nebraska, were among the invited speakers who stressed the need for groups to come together.

They joined Louisiana environmental groups and activists who participated in panel discussions in the days before a protest by hundreds of Gulf Coast residents and environmentalists from across the country against the federal lease sale of 44.3 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico to the oil and gas industry. 
Video: Paul Corbit Brown speaks in New Orleans


Holding up a bottle of polluted water from Fayetteville, West Virginia, at a panel discussion on climate change injustice, Brown told the audience that water from the river where he took the sample made it to New Orleans before he did.

“Polluted water in West Virginia doesn’t stay in West Virginia,” he said. ”It makes it way to other places, including here.”

The Keeper of the Mountains Foundation’s mission is to move Appalachian communities away from an extraction economy to an economy that values people, land, and mountain heritage. The foundation conducts outreach programs to teach groups from around the world about mountaintop removal and other negative impacts of the coal industry. The foundation is involved with fighting for human rights while working toward helping the region transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

The foundation also acts as an environmental watchdog. Brown was the first photographer to document the site where a train carrying North Dakota crude derailed into a West Virginia creek and burst into flames in 2015. After a state trooper blocked his way, threatening him with arrest if he tried to get to the accident site, he chartered a plane and shot aerials of the wreckage that were published by the Huffington Post.

His photos contradicted Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s description of how much oil contaminated the creek, according to Brown.

Brown’s work as a human rights photographer before he became an environmental activist taught him that you can’t separate human rights from environmental injustice.

“There is a growing movement of people trying to connect the dots,” Brown told DeSmog. “It is not that mountaintop removal is worse than uranium mining – or worse than what happened with oil and gas in Louisiana, or worse than frackng or any other environmental catastrophe created by the oil and gas industry. People are waking up to the understanding that this fight is all of these fights.”

On a panel of women in the environmental movement, Jane Kleeb announced that Bold Nebraska is expanding with the formation of the Bold Alliance, which will have branches in Iowa, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. The alliance will continue Bold Nebraska’s work that includes stopping fossil fuel developments by developing clean energy projects.

Bold Nebraska is a progressive political advocacy group that was a leading voice in the fight to stop the northern route of the Keystone XL Pipeline. The organization joined forces with indigenous tribes in the fight to stop the tar sands pipeline.

Video: Jane Kleeb speaks in New Orleans


When word reached Kleeb that President Obama rejected the permit TransCanada needed to build the northern route of the Keystone XL Pipeline, she had a celebratory whiskey and then spent a little time with her family. But hanging up her hat was never an option for her.

“The fight to save the planet is bigger than stopping one pipeline,” Kleeb told DeSmog.

Kleeb announced that Cherri Foytlin will run Bold Louisiana. Foytlin, a Louisiana native, became an activist after the BP oil spill, and has been at the forefront of the fight against pollution and social justice ever since.

“We plan to continue to tackle fossil fuel projects while lifting up clean energy and developing a base of populist independent voters,” Kleeb said.

Hundreds crashed the government’s lease sale on March 23 held at the Superdome in New Orleans. Though the protesters weren’t able to stop the auction, their action sent a message to the federal government that further development of the fossil fuel industry is not a popular move with those concerned about climate change.

Video: Jane Kleeb and Mekasi Camp-Horinek protest against new oil and gas lease sales In the Gulf of Mexico.


“Here in New Orleans, apathy just isn’t an option,” MacGillivray told DeSmog. Despite the trauma from superstorms and the destruction of the environment, she believes the spirit of the people in New Orleans can’t be extinguished.


Paul Corbit Brown outside of the Superdome where protesters gathered after the lease sale for a rally. ©2016 Julie Dermansky

Brown was moved by the protest. It was a reminder that he is not alone in recognizing the need to unite people fighting for social and environmental justice, which happened at the protest.

“What we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves. It is that simple,” Brown told DeSmog. “If we continue to contaminate the earth and take from her as if there is no tomorrow, we will not have an Earth we can live on tomorrow – it is that simple.”

Video: Chief Arvol speaks in New Orleans


Lead Photo: Paula Horne-Mullen, Janet MacGillivray, Esq., Chief Arvil Looking Horse, Jane Kleeb and Jason Kowalski and others gathered in New Orleans. ©2016 Julie Dermansky

Environmentalists Converge on New Orleans To Disrupt Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Lease Sale




Hundreds of Gulf Coast residents and environmentalists from across the country protested against a federal lease sale of 44.3 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico to the oil and gas industry yesterday in New Orleans.

The group marched from Duncan Plaza to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome — where the sale was held — calling for an end to drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and an immediate hiring of a thousand workers to clean up and repair aging oil infrastructure, including rigs, platforms, pipelines and refineries.

They included Gulf Coast residents and local environmental organizations 350 Louisiana, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Bridge the Gulf and Vanishing Earth. Members of national groups Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Sierra Club, Oil Change International, Indigena, Bold Nebraska, Keeper of the Mountains Foundation, the Center for Biological Diversity, Rethink Energy, Tar Sands Blockade and Rainforest Action Network also took part in the protest.

No effort was made to stop the protesters from entering the Superdome or the room where the auction took place. While the protest had been publicized since February on social media, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) seemed caught off guard.

Protesters march to the Superdome in New Orleans. ©2016 Julie Dermansky


Anne Rolfes, director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, leads protesters to the lease sale inside the Superdome. ©2016 Julie Dermansky

The protesters chanted throughout the lease sale, which lasted about an hour and a half. They drowned out the voice ofBOEM Gulf of Mexico Regional Director Michael Celata who was calling out the bids and announcing the lease winners.


VIDEO


“We have being saying ‘Yes’ and going along with drilling in the Gulf far too long,” Cherri Foytlin, a Gulf Coast activist, told DeSmog, “Today I said, ‘No.’”

Security personnel tried to remove Foytlin from a platform at the lease sale. When police officers grabbed her, Foytlin went limp, ending up lying on her back. Rather than drag her away, she was permitted to remain on the platform.


Police try to remove Cherri Foytlin from the protest. © 2016 Julie Dermansky


Cherri Foytlin, after being released by the police, returns to where she was standing before they tried to remove her. ©2016 Julie Dermansky

“They could have arrested me,” Foytlin told DeSmog. “But there were too many of us that they would also have to arrest.”

A representative from BOEM asked Foytlin what the group thought they were going to accomplish since their actions were not going to stop the sale. Foytlin explained she was protecting the planet for the sake of her children.

She asked him to “go back to the President and tell him that this is just the beginning. Our numbers are swelling.”

“If this president really wants to be the guy he said he was going to be after Paris, he needs to be proactive and stop the sale of federal land for drilling right now,” Foytlin told DeSmog.

VIDEO


“This is horrible,” BOEM representative Caryl Fagot said to DeSmog. “What do they think they are doing?”


BOEM representative Caryl Fagot reacts to protesters during the lease sale in the Superdome. ©2016 Julie Dermansky

At a March 17 public hearing on the next round of Gulf of Mexico lease sales slated for 2017, Fagot said nothing would stop the March 23 auction and that the place to voice one’s opinion was at one of the BOEM public hearings beforehand, not at the event itself.

The activists disagreed. “This is beautiful,” Bucket Brigade director Anne Rolfes told DeSmog.


Oil and gas industry representatives at the federal lease sale in the Superdome. ©2016 Julie Dermansky


John Filostrat, a BOEM public affairs officer, makes an effort to control the crowd. ©2016 Julie Dermansky

Rolfes testified at BOEM’s hearing, but still had hoped to stop the lease sales. The hundreds of people willing to disrupt the meeting gave her hope. Two years before, only a couple dozen protesters attended the lease sale.

After the sale, a few of the protesters taunted workers who were taking down BOEM’s displays in the Superdome’s hallway. “You should be ashamed,” one of the activists said to them.

“The sneakers you are wearing are made with oil. Your cell phone too,” a worker countered. The worker conceded safety on the oil rigs isn’t what it should be, but told DeSmog he thought the protesters were ignorant.

Twenty-six offshore energy companies submitted 148 bids on 128 blocks for Central Sale 241. No bids were submitted for Eastern Sale 226, according to BOEM’s press release.  It was the fewest bids submitted at in auction in the last 20 years.



The protesters held a rally outside the Superdome after the sale. Among them was activist Hilton Kelley, the Goldman Environmental Prize winner who has fought to keep pollution at bay in the African-American West Side neighborhood of Port Arthur.

“The people who live on the Gulf Coast have suffered enough because of BP,” he told DeSmog.

“Though we didn’t stop the sale, our voices were heard,” Kelley said, describing the protest as “righteous.”


Protesters pose for a group photo as a helicopter passes over them. ©2016 Julie Dermansky


Lead photo credit: Children take part in a protest against new federal lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico. ©2016 Julie Dermansky

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Momentum Builds Against Obama Admin Plans To Auction Oil and Gas Drilling Rights In Gulf of Mexico



Hundreds of Gulf Coast residents are expected to join a coalition of environmental and social justice groups on Wednesday to protest outside the Superdome, where the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) intends to auction off leases for offshore oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
Forty-seven organizations sent a letter to President Obama last week calling for him to cancel the planned lease auctions that would release millions of acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas drilling. The sales include 43 million acres set to be auctioned on Wednesday, and another 47 million acres proposed for auction in 2017. 
Only two people spoke at BOEM’s public hearing in New Orleans on March 17 on the bureau's proposed plan to offer 47.41 million acres to the oil and gas industry to lease in the Central Planning Area of the Gulf of Mexico in 2017.

BOEM representative Caryl Fagot told DeSmog after the public hearing:  “This was the place for people to voice their opposition to new leasing, not at the auction itself, when it is too late.”


BOEM makes a presentation at a public hearing in New Orleans. ©2016 Julie Dermansky

Though the Obama Administration recently took the Atlantic Coast out of its 2017-2022 plan for offshore fossil fuel development, it proposed three leases for the Arctic and ten for the Gulf of Mexico.

Fagot pointed out that those who missed the hearings on proposed lease sales in the Gulf to take place in 2017, have until May 2 to send in their comments.

The two speakers who testified were Anne Rolfes, the director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and Monique Verdin, member of the United Houma Nation tribe and a Gulf Coast liaison of the Indigenous Environmental Network. Both called for no new leasing in the Gulf. New drilling puts the region at risk for another oil spill and any oil recovered, when burned off, will contribute to climate change.

Video: Monique Verdin Speaks at BOEM’s Public Hearing in New Orleans.

Rolfes thinks BOEM did a bad job getting the word out about the March 17 meeting because many area residents oppose expansion of offshore drilling operations. She became aware of the hearing only two days prior, after finding a public notice in a local weekly newspaper.

BOEM defended its public hearing notification process, stating it ran ads in local newspapers and posted the information on the bureau’s website. But BOEM representatives admitted its last two hearings were not well attended. There was only one person at one event, and at another, no one showed up at all.


Video: John Filostrat, a BOEM public affairs officer, explains the new agencies created to replace the Minerals Management Service after the BP oil disaster. 

BOEM is one of three agencies created by the Obama Administration to replace the Minerals Management Service, after it was determined the regulatory agency was ill-equipped to prevent or deal with the BP oil disaster. The bureau is responsible for environmental studies and managing new leases on the outer continental shelf.

The other two agencies are the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR). BSEE is responsible for safety and environmental regulations on all offshore energy developments, andONRR collects royalties from oil and gas produced on federal property.

An environmental activist at the March 17 hearing voiced his concern about the BOEM plans to lease in 2017. He said leases are in waters that are double the depth of the waters where the Deepwater Horizon disaster occurred, and asked BOEM how the bureau would get a similar incident under control in much deeper waters.

“It would be difficult,“ a BOEM representative conceded.


Vessels at the site where the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, leading to the 2010 BP oil disaster. ©2010 Julie Dermansky

“We take unknown environmental damages into account in our work,” Beth Ord, a biologist with BOEM, told DeSmog. However, despite the incomplete scientific data on the impacts of the BP blowout, it is BOEM’s job to determine the feasibility of new projects in the Gulf, and make sure that if new drilling takes place, it is done safely.

“The Gulf of Mexico has been devastated by negligent oil companies and continues to be plundered for profit,” said Ruth Breech, a senior campaigner at Rainforest Action Network at a press conference before BOEM’s hearing. Breaking up the regulatory agency doesn’t change her stance that the oil should be left in the ground.

Organizers of the upcoming Superdome protest hope they can build on the momentum created by the national Keep It in the Ground movement’s direct actions to block federal auctions of drilling rights on public lands across the country.

“The people in the Gulf Coast are finally waking up to the utter destruction of handing over our Gulf of Mexico to Big Oil. Oil spills, a destroyed coast and seafood in peril is what has come from drilling over the last fifty years,” said Rolfes, who is working with the Rainforest Action Network and other groups to stop the auction on 23 March.

Rolfes acknowledged that many jobs in Louisiana are connected to the oil and gas industry, making her stance a touchy subject in Louisiana. But she believes new job opportunities can be created to restore the coast and build renewable energy sources.

“In a chilling foretelling, BP nicknamed its own Deepwater Horizon oil drilling lease ‘Macondo,’ the cursed town of mirrors in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude, and the story of generations doomed to repeat history,” Janet MacGillivray, Esq., with Indigena, wrote in a press release. MacGillivray’s organization is involved with the programming including seminars and films that is taking place in the days preceding the auction.

Josh Fox, the producer and director of Gasland and Gasland 2, will screen his film How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change, at the Joy Theater on 21 March. All of the events are free and open to the public.

The information presented at BOEM’s public hearing is on the bureau’s website. Public comments on the proposed 2017 leases can be made by email until May 2.

Lead image: Anne Rolfes, the director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Monique Verdin, a Gulf Coast Liaison for Indigenous Environmental Network, and Ruth Breech, a senior campaigner at Rainforest Action Network at a press conference held before BOEM’s public hearing in New Orleans. ©2016 Julie Dermansky

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