Six years since the BP Oil drilling disaster and the federal government has gone from being a part of injuring the people of the Gulf Coast to insulting us. In 2010, the BP/Deepwater Horizon explosion showed how extreme energy extraction injures Gulf Coast workers, communities and ecosystems. Six years later, we continue to witness the agony of fisher folks, business owners and workers in the region as claims from the disaster are prolonged and denied.
In New Orleans, the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management (BOEM) hosted a public hearing earlier this week on the proposed Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022. The U.S. Department of Interior is offering up hundreds of millions of acres in the Gulf of Mexico to allow for deeper oil and gas drilling in the region. On a contradictory note, later this week the U.S. is slated to sign the Paris accord acknowledging the need for national action as part of a global imperative to combat the impending impacts of climate change.
We already feel the powerful impacts of climate change here in Louisiana. More than 10 years after Hurricane Katrina, we are still haunted by the fact that climate change worsens chronic justice issues and poses a particular threat to the way of life for residents of the Gulf Coast. While BOEM holds its hearing to do more drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, Native American tribes in south Louisiana like the United Houma Nation are relocating from their historical homelands due to sea level rise and historic African American communities in New Orleans like Residents of Gordon Plaza are fighting multi-generational court battles to relocate due to the poisoning of their land and toxic exposure during extreme weather.
The extraction, refinement and burning of fossil fuels accelerates climate change—we know this. We also know that offshore oil and gas operations negatively impact the local environment by contributing to land subsidence, coastal erosion, air and water pollution, and ecosystem disruptions. The tension comes in balancing the economic impacts of oil and gas on local and national economies versus the human and ecological impact in a region too often used as this nation’s sacrifice zone. Communities of the Gulf Coast continue to fight oppressive government policies that have built the world’s most powerful companies while living in the nation’s poorest socioeconomic conditions—a combination of which has left us vulnerable to climate change.
The Gulf South has sacrificed its land and people for long enough. The negative financial, social, environmental and climate impacts of a solely extractive energy economy must no longer be ignored or denied. The Gulf South Rising delegation to Paris reported that we have an opportunity to create a renewable energy future and restore democracy in our Gulf, for our nation and for our planet.
The proposal for new offshore oil and gas leasing in the Gulf and in the Arctic must be rejected. Sign this petition today to call on the federal government to stop new drilling on all of our coasts. Our business and government leaders must find the courage to invest in a renewable energy economy with bold plans to decrease our dependence on fossil fuel extraction.
The first step in achieving energy democracy is to listen to Louisiana’s most unique and cherished communities as they call for a just transition away from what is harming our coast and toward what builds healthy and sustainable communities.
Colette Pichon Battle, Esq. is the executive director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy, a non-profit law firm and justice center advocating for ecological equity for Gulf South communities of color on the frontline of climate change.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Climate change is making ancient Hopi farming nearly impossible, threatening not just the Tribe's staple food source, but a pillar of its culture and religion, the Arizona Republic reports.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
- These Are the Challenges Facing India's Most Sacred River ... ›
- Oil Spill Causes 'Major Disaster' for Ganges River Dolphins ... ›
By Kenny Stancil
An expert panel of top international and environmental lawyers have begun working this month on a legal definition of "ecocide" with the goal of making mass ecological damage an enforceable international crime on par with war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.
- Are the Amazon Fires a Crime Against Humanity? - EcoWatch ›
- 'Her Work Will Live On': Climate Movement Mourns Loss of Ecocide ... ›
After ongoing pressure from environmental groups and Indigenous communities, Bank of America has said it will not finance any oil and gas exploration in the Arctic, making it the last major U.S. financial institution to do so.
- Bank of America Sponsors Polluted Air and Chicago Marathon ... ›
- Youth Activists Hit the Streets to Protest Bank of America - EcoWatch ›
- Environmental and Economic Justice Communities Target Bank of ... ›
By Astrid Caldas
As we reach the official end of hurricane season, 2020 will be one for the record books. Looking back at these long, surprising, sometimes downright crazy past six months (seven if you count when the first named storms actually started forming), there are many noteworthy statistics and patterns that drive home the significance of this hurricane season, and the ways climate change may have contributed to it.
A summary infographic showing hurricane season probability and numbers of named storms predicted from NOAA's 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook. NOAA
The updated 2020 Atlantic hurricane season probability and numbers of named storms. NOAA
- Tropical Storm Theta Is Record-Breaking 29th Storm of 2020 ... ›
- Hurricane Delta Breaks Record for Earliest 25th Named Storm ... ›