Late yesterday afternoon, we found oil onshore at the southern tip of Louisiana near a place called Port Eads. I was on a tiny strip of beach with the Greenpeace team, and we were all shocked at what was there. The oil looked like paint spattered on the beach. In the marshy areas there was discoloration where it was starting to be absorbed. When we looked back at our footprints you could see the sheen of oil in the water. A close look at the reeds, which hold back erosion in the bayou, showed oil coating the base of the plants.
We chartered a boat with a shrimp fisherman whose livelihood has been taken away by the spill. After Hurricane Katrina, he had built up a lucrative shrimping business, but BP has put it to a halt. With the Gulf closed to fishing for the foreseeable future because of a toxic stew of oil and dispersant chemicals, there isn’t much work for him. Most of the other fishermen have gone to work for BP cleaning up the oil, but the pay is too low for him to support his family.
There is a sense among everyone that I talk to that the worst is yet to come. Closed fishing grounds are only the beginning of what will become the worst environmental disaster to hit this country. BP has been parading around talking about containment domes, booms and dispersant, but the truth is that they can’t contain the 200,000 gallons a day that are gushing from the Deepwater drill site. The environment and people’s lives are being ripped to shreds in the Gulf. And the worst thing is that this all could have been prevented.
We need everyone outside of the region to take action in their community to expose the BP disaster and pressure your elected officials to oppose future offshore drilling in the Gulf, Atlantic, Arctic, and everywhere else. This spill is a stark reminder of the cost of our country’s addiction to fossil fuels and the influence that energy corporations have on our government. There’s a better way than this. I’m sure of it.