For Immediate Release, April 18, 2016
||Anne Rolfes, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, (504) 452-4909
Steve Jones, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 305-3866
Gulf Coast Residents Rally in New Orleans Against New Offshore Oil Leases
NEW ORLEANS, La.— Gulf Coast residents and their allies in the environmental and social-justice movements rallied and spoke today against federal plans to issue 10 new offshore fossil fuel leases in the Gulf of Mexico, continuing the momentum from a historic, high-profile demonstration against another Gulf lease sale last month at the Superdome. The group held a rally and press conference before a Department of the Interior public hearing on its draft 2017-2022 offshore energy plan, calling for a cancellation of the proposed leases and new investments and job creation in renewable energy and environmental restoration.
Attendees came from Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and local, community-based groups Bridge the Gulf, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Radical Arts and Healing Collective, Operation Homecare, Vanishing Earth and other Gulf organizations, as well as the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, 350.org, Greenpeace and other national organizations.
Hundreds demonstrated against the last offshore lease sale on March 23 at the Superdome, joining the national movement to “Keep It in the Ground,” which has been targeting fossil fuel leases on public lands. Climate scientists say most untapped fossil fuel reserves should be left intact if humanity is to avoid the worst climate change scenarios and meet the carbon emissions reduction goals agreed to in Paris in December.
Offshore oil production is a particularly poignant issue in the Gulf of Mexico, site of the largest oil spill in U.S. history, following the explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon six years ago this week. After the day’s hearing in New Orleans, Interior will hold another public hearing on the five-year plan on April 20 in Houston, which many of the activists and concerned citizens from today’s action plan to attend.
“We’ve spent years beseeching the oil industry. Please stop polluting, please reduce your accidents, please install air monitors so that mothers can know if children are being poisoned. The industry has never listened and now we see another way. We are inspired by the victory against drilling on the Atlantic Coast. So we’re telling Big Oil to take their rigs and go home,” said Anne Rolfes, founding director of Louisiana Bucket Brigade.
“Our region is still dealing with the public-health and ecological consequences of the biggest oil spill in U.S. history. Not only that, we are also among the most vulnerable regions to climate change in the world. It is time for us to protect our communities, restore our ecosystems and defend our cultures from the perils of extractive industries, not invest further in them,” said Jayeesha Dutta, cultural organizing coordinator with the Gulf Future Coalition, a coalition of more than 75 environmental, community and social-justice organizations in the Gulf Coast galvanized in the wake of the BP oil disaster. “We must give the Gulf a future, which starts by ending all new leases for oil and gas industries and instead building a just and sustainable energy infrastructure.”
“We all need to stand with Gulf residents as they fight for a clean energy future. The movement to stop new offshore leases that came to life at the Superdome last month is growing stronger every day,” said Blake Kopcho, a campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity. “We need to stop treating the Gulf like a sacrifice zone and start the just transition away from dependence on the dirty fossil fuel industry.”
“Keeping fossil fuels in the ground has become the gold standard for climate leadership,” said Jason Kowalski, U.S. policy director with 350.org. “Last month's victory over Atlantic drilling shows that when we organize, we win. The president’s current proposal to concentrate offshore drilling in Gulf Coast communities is a missed opportunity when we could be making plans to deploy clean energy."
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 990,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.