Gulf Coast Bears Brunt of Renewed Federal Commitment to Fossil Fuels

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March 9, 2017

Contact: Anne Rolfes, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, 504-452-4909, anne@labucketbrigade.org

Gulf Coast Bears Brunt of Renewed Federal Commitment to Fossil Fuels
First Two Weeks in February: 78 Petrochemical Accidents Reported, Pipeline Accidents Show Dangers of Bayou Bridge

(New Orleans) The Department of the Interior’s recently announced plans to continue drilling in the Gulf of Mexico come amidst a calamitous accident pace, with 14 offshore platform accidents in the first two weeks of February. One pipeline worker was killed during that same period, and the carcinogen benzene was released in the community of St. James. “We see these consistently high numbers of accidents in the oil and gas industry on one hand and a plan to systematically dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency on the other hand,” said Renate Heurich of 350 Louisiana. “Given these conditions, we can predict that even more people will lose their health or their lives as a direct consequence.” A report about these accidents is available at labucketbrigade.org

Today’s report was released by DisasterMap.net, 350 Louisiana and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and included three fatalities at an accident at Paper Corporation of America in Deridder.  Half of the accidents occurred at refineries and plants on shore, with a significant number also coming from platforms and pipelines. The report released today included 78 reports to the National Response Center (NRC), the federal point of contact for oil spills. Nine additional accidents were reported by Louisiana residents to iWitnessPollution.org, a crowd sourced pollution map operated by the Louisiana Bucket Brigade.

“Last month a pipeline explosion killed a man, and yet it’s business as usual for the oil industry in Louisiana,” said Anne Rolfes, Founding Director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. “This industry is unsafe. People die. We need to transition to renewable energy now.”

Though advocates of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline repeat, without evidence, that pipelines are the safest means of transportation, the fatality at the pipeline explosion in Paradis shows the inherent danger of the infrastructure. There were thirteen pipeline accidents in the two week period.

The larger issues of coastal erosion and climate change were highlighted in the report’s tracking of temperatures as well as two reports about pipeline exposure due to erosion. “With this report, it has been 26 weeks, or a half year, since the weekly average temperature in Louisiana was below the long term average,” said Dr. Ezra Boyd of DisasterMap.net.  “This time period also contains two reports of erosion harming pipelines in Louisiana.  This finding suggests a vicious cycle of climate change induced pipeline accidents, which in turn contribute to climate change via additional greenhouse gases.”

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