From an Atlantic Victory to a Gulf Protest

Proposed Atlantic Drilling has gone the way of the Keystone Pipeline – bad ideas whose time has passed. President Obama’s decision to cancel his own proposed lease sales for oil and gas along the Southeast Atlantic coast on March 15 was a clear victory for grassroots activism up and down the eastern seaboard. Seaweed (marine grassroots) activists by the millions signed petitions, passed town and coastal city resolutions, mobilized small businesses, demonstrated and spoke out along with their elected officials of both parties and together they turned the tide.

But the Gulf of Mexico and Arctic Ocean remain open to future drilling and the next President could easily reverse the present course away from fossil fuels and toward job-generating clean energy sources.

That’s why I’ll be flying into New Orleans to join hundreds of Gulf Coast citizens from climate, health and environmental justice groups rallying outside New Orleans’ Superdome the Wednesday March 23 to oppose a federal auction for offshore oil leases taking place there. The lease sale, occurring inside where hurricane refugees once huddled in their thousands, offers up to 43 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas development, the largest sale of Obama’s presidency. But the people of the Gulf are tired of seeing their land, their waters, their health and their communities turned into a national sacrifice zone for the fossil fuel industry. Right now about 20 percent of U.S. crude oil production comes out of Gulf Waters, where dolphins are still dying, people still getting sick and oily waste still surfacing from the massive BP oil spill of six years ago.

Twice in the past decade I’ve been to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast reporting on disasters. Hurricane Katrina reminded me of war zones I’d covered only with fewer casualties (over 1,400 —> Read More