Gulf Protectors Descend on Federal Building in a Day of Action for End to New Oil Leasing in Gulf of Mexico

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No New Leases, 350 Louisiana, BOLD Louisiana, Louisiana Bucket Brigade

For immediate release, October 26, 2016

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

Where and when: 1 PM: 1201 Elmwood Park Blvd

Gulf Protectors Descend on Federal Building in a Day of Action for End to New Oil Leasing in Gulf of Mexico

(New Orleans) Gulf residents urged President Obama today to burnish his climate legacy and cancel oil drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico. Protectors of the Gulf of Mexico, including teachers, faith leaders, college students, chefs, grandparents, and women who have long stood up to oil refinery pollution along Cancer Alley descended on the local headquarters of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. The protectors cited oil drilling’s assault on human health, wildlife, seafood, livelihoods, cultures, wetlands and the climate as the impetus for an end to drilling.

While these protectors are focused on the Gulf of Mexico, they began today’s event in solidarity with those from the Sioux Nation who are standing up the Dakota Access pipeline. The protectors in North Dakota are facing violence by corporations and law enforcement.

The protectors in the Gulf of Mexico focused on President Obama since he has the power to cancel the sale of new leases. The President refused last year to open up the Atlantic Coast for drilling despite a vigorous campaign by the oil industry. The Eastern Gulf (Florida) is protected by a Congressional Moratorium until 2022. President Obama also enacted a two year ban on Arctic drilling leaving the Gulf of Mexico as the sole coast where unfettered drilling is allowed. The protectors today went to the local office of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, with some of the members prepared for civil disobedience.

The areas proposed for leasing in 2017 and beyond include the Western and Central Planning Area of the Gulf of Mexico with sections of the ocean floor that are twice as deep as the BP well that exploded in 2010.The oil industry has had thousands of accidents in the Gulf of Mexico each year, and safety technology has not kept pace with deep drilling technology. Extremely deep drilling in depths where blowout preventers do not work means that contingency plans rely solely on massive amounts of Corexit. The industry has an ongoing problem with accidents. From September 15th to October 6th, the federal National Response Center received 94 reports of accidents off the coast of Louisiana, or over 30 per week.

Today’s Day of Action was part of the global movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground. A petition signed by 67,373 people was presented to federal officials. Signers of the petition include residents from the Gulf Coast and people around the world who are concerned about climate change. A study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed that the August flooding which destroyed thousands of homes in Louisiana was, in part, a result of warming caused by fossil fuel emissions. Night time heat records – an indicator of climate change – were smashed this summer in New Orleans as the temperature did not drop below 80 degrees for 43 nights.  This past September was the hottest September on record and the 13th consecutive month to set such a record.

The Gulf protectors are today calling on President Obama to live up to his climate legacy and permanently cancel future leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

QUOTES:

“Why do I want to move off of oil? Because it’s killing people. Just look at my own family. I grew up between a Shell refinery and a Shell chemical plant and when my mother and sister got sick, the doctors asked if we lived near pollution. It’s not fair. And now people have to go and fish in the Gulf - after oil companies leave all that mess. Look what they left from the spill that BP did. That was bad. And it’s no better. They keep going out and drilling and spilling in our Gulf. And that’s just not right.” Iris Carter, Concerned Citizens of Norco

"The head of BOEM, Abigail Hopper, had promised to come down and meet directly with our communities who continue to be adversely affected by oil production in and along the Gulf. At the last minute, she backed out. Additionally, BOEM recently stopped allowing public participation at point-of-sale lease auctions. At every turn our voices have been oppressed by this federal agency. We deserve to be heard. If she won't come to us, then we have no choice but to go to BOEM ourselves to make our wishes known. We want protection. We want respect for our lives. No new leases, not here, not anywhere!"  Cherri Foytlin, BOLD Louisiana

“Oil and gas stand for a boom and bust economy. This industry is destroying the stable climate human civilizations have depended on for the past 10,000 years. Scientists have been warning us about global warming for half a century; the industry knew all along about the risks of burning fossil fuels, but decided to sow doubt so they could continue to reap immense profits. In addition to frying our planet, fossil fuels are poisoning air, water and land, the very basis for our existence. We are fighting for a sustainable, life affirming economy based on renewable sources of energy. We are demanding that BOEM stop any new leases and shift their focus to building wind farms in the Gulf. We have the moral duty to hand a livable planet to our children.” Renate Heurich, 350 Louisiana

“To maintain a livable climate, experts estimate that around 80% of existing fossil fuel resources must stay in the ground.  At our current consumption levels, that means not only do we need to place an immediate moratorium on new fossil fuel infrastructure projects, but we also must scale back on existing projects.  The industry and government executives who dismiss our concerns out of hand because we drive fuel-powered vehicles or use air conditioning are missing the point.  A transition to a renewable energy economy at the speed required by science will not be easy for any of us.  It will take a full-hearted acceptance of climate science and an enormous collective will.  But when you look at the climate math, it is quite literally our only choice.” Alicia Cooke, 350 Louisiana

“Just two months ago President Obama saw the impacts of climate change up close when he toured parts of Louisiana that were destroyed by the August floods. Thousands of families lost their homes, and scientists are very clear that the floods were caused by warming of our planet. This should be a wakeup call. The oil industry gives us flooding, thousands of oil spills every year and a destroyed coast. We are here with a clear message to President Obama: cancel new leases in the Gulf of Mexico, keep all fossil fuels in the ground.” Anne Rolfes, Founding Director, Louisiana Bucket Brigade

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