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A Year after the BP Spill, It’s All about Access

Oiled pelicans waiting to be cleaned at the Fort Jackson Wildlife Care Center in Buras LA (photo: IBRRC)

There’s nothing like a walk to the White House to get your blood pumping. Especially if you’re Cherri Foytlin, walking from New Orleans to DC. Especially if that walk is to bring attention to the continued suffering of Gulf Coast communities in the wake of the BP oil disaster almost a year ago.

It really hurts when you walk all that way, and can’t get an invitation to get past the fence at the White House for a little chat with someone inside.

“I really just want to be heard, and then I want to go back to my kids,” said the 38-year-old mother of six and wife of an unemployed oil rig worker from Rayne, standing in front of the black iron White House fence, which is as close as you can get to the Oval Office without an invitation.

“So if anybody hearing my voice has a way to get me in with the president to help me protect my homeland, that’s all I’m asking for is 15 minutes and then I’ll go home.”

Yeah, that’s got to hurt, but then watching Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson stroll past you as you stand at the fence . . . that’s adding insult to injury.

Speaking of access . . .

The Coast Guard recently honored the captain and crew of a supply vessel, the Damon B. Bankston, whose efforts at the Macondo rig at the time of the explosion helped saved many of the lives of the rig workers that day. As wonderful as their actions were, someone seems worried about the workers telling that story for themselves (emphasis added):

[Captain Alwin Landry] was presented with one of [the USCG’s] top awards for civilian heroics, the Certificate of Valor. . . . The 13 Bankston crew members received the Distinguished Public Service Award, while three of its crew received individual awards. The nine who attended Friday’s ceremony were not allowed to speak freely with news media.

I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you.

Speaking of access . . .

Naked Capitalism regular “George Washington” has a roundup of BP stuff in a guest post today that is well worth checking out. The Father of our Country has a series of links to stories about access and the lack thereof, courtesy of some just-released confidential emails. Scientists can’t get access to the spill site, BP works to discredit scientists, etc., etc., etc. GW also is worth checking out for the images from Julie Dermansky. (Her latest BP spill-related post is on the dead Kemp’s Ridley turtles washing up on Mississippi beaches.) Apparently the Gulf wildlife is having no problems accessing the oil. Clean water and food, on the other hand . . .

Coming up this week is something you might want to check out if you’re interested in what a cleanup looks like: HBO’s documentary “Saving Pelican #895”. It’s built around looking at the spill from the viewpoint of the film’s two central characters:

The first is a grimly oiled pelican, captured by wildlife specialists on the Louisiana coast, whose travails form the core of the narrative.

The other is Michael Carloss, a wildlife biologist, who heads up the bird-cleaning operation at Fort Jackson Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Louisiana.

It should be quite something.

Fortunately, the head of BP’s Gulf Oil cleanup is confident that the cleanup will be over in five years. Good news, if you can believe it, but note the little disclaimer to this rosy prediction in the very last paragraph: “Hurricanes are the wild card. [The BP cleanup chief] said they could bring material onto clean beaches, or a could break tar balls into such small pieces they would no longer be a problem.”

Thank goodness hurricanes are rarely an issue. Oh, wait . . .

BP has access to the powers that be, while residents of the Gulf — human and otherwise — have access only to ongoing suffering. Oil companies are using that access to push for renewed deep water drilling, claiming their plans are much better now than a year ago for containing any spills, and the GOP is ready to take up the charge to push for expedited permitting and drilling. Gotta do it to bring down gas prices, dontcha know. Fortunately, Democrats have a strong record of holding firm in the face of irresponsible, indefensible demands from the GOP.

Oh, wait . . .

Access. From the Deepwater Horizon disaster to the Wall Street Bailouts to foreclosure fraud to . . . well, pick your disaster and the name of the game is the same: access.

(Accountability? Not so much.)

As it was before the BP disaster, is now, and apparently ever more shall be . . .

(photo h/t: International Bird Rescue Research Center)

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I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor with a passion for language, progressive politics, and the intersection of people's inner sets of ideals and beliefs (aka "faith" to many) and their political actions. I mostly comment around here, but offer a weekly post or two as well. With the role that conservative Christianity plays in the current Republican politics, I believe that progressives ignore the dynamics of religion, religious language, and religiously-inspired actions at our own peril. I am also incensed at what the TheoCons have done to the public impression of Christianity, and don't want their twisted version of it to go unchallenged in the wider world. I'm a midwesterner, now living in the Kansas City area, but also spent ten years living in the SF Bay area. I'm married to a wonderful microbiologist (she's wonderful all the way around, not just at science) and have a great little Kid, for whom I am the primary caretaker these days. I love the discussions around here, especially the combination of humor and seriousness that lets us take on incredibly tough stuff while keeping it all in perspective and treating one another with respect.

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