[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. – bev]
Kirk Murphy, Host:
Antonia Juhasz’ Black Tide drills into our past, our present, and all too possibly, our future. Black Tide gives us the chance to learn from Antonia’s years of expert work on the oil industry and the industry’s effects upon us all and the planet we all depend on. This book goes far beyond history and policy – the book draws on the months Antonia spent with Gulf Coast residents living with the consequences of the oil catastrophe BP and partners brought upon them and the Gulf one year and thirteen days ago. The result is a powerful, compelling work of non-fiction that reads like a novel. But unlike a novel, Black Tide brings us into the lives of real people, and Antonia brings them to us in their own words.
While we’re learning about the people suffering through this catastrophe, in Black Tide we see the Macondo oil blowout spills far beyond BP and partners. What happened there reaches over the whole industry. The toxic oil and dispersants poured out there last year still poison the Gulf and the human and non-human creatures living there, just as the oil industry still threatens our health, communities, and freedoms. Black Tide helps us place these dark truths in the larger context of the agencies and officials who were supposed to protect us from these threats, and it also helps us see how the technology that was supposed to protect us failed, and could fail us yet again.
As FDL’s readers know all too well, much of the time the Obama administration’s response to BP’s Macondo blow-out all looked more like collaboration after the fact than meaningful assistance to badly damaged lives and ecosystems. Black Tide gives us a picture of where Obama’s administration helped and where it didn’t. Black Tide also gives us a detailed account of how the net result of BP’s strenuous efforts and the White House and Congress’s response is that our Federal Government has done virtually nothing to prevent the next Macondo.
Black Tide also places the Macondo catastrophe in the context of two petrodisasters that actually did spark greater protection for Americans against the Lords of the Rigs: the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill and the Exxon Valdez supertanker disaster. Like Macondo, these calamities cast long shadows: when I attended UCSB a decade later, we still had to wash beach tar off our feet; the people and ecosystems Exxon injured have not recovered to this day. Like Macondo, both were avoidable. And like Macondo, both were wellsprings of citizen activism and public organizing that persist to the day. Without the Santa Barbara spill, California’s people would not have protected their coast by popular initiative. And as awful as Macondo was and is for the people and other living creatures of the Gulf, without this dreadful loss we may not have seen the powerful citizen activism which has welled up across the Gulf over this last year.
Antonia Juhasz’s long and thorough work researching the global oil industry and sharing her knowledge with the rest of us gives her a powerful platform from which to write Black Tide. Her long years of effective activism inform that work, and empower Black Tide. Like all the effective activists I’ve seen, Antonia’s activism draws power from and returns power to the communities she works with. Little more than two weeks ago, Antonia joined five Gulf Coast community leaders at BP’s annual shareholders’ London meeting. All five of the community leaders held valid proxies entitling them to address the meeting. Just as BP (with the help of Obama’s Coast Guard) quashed public rights on our Gulf Coast, BP quashed the leaders’ participation.
And just as she has done in Black Tide, Antonia spoke the truth of the Gulf Coast residents BP, so terribly injured, and the truth of those mourning their dead for all the world to hear:
“I demanded an immediate response to BP’s denying the voice of those that had traveled from the Gulf to tell the truth about what has really been happening to their health, livelihoods and home,” Juhasz said after the meeting. “I also demanded a response to the failure of the corporation to provide for the safety of its deep water operations and read a statement that Keith Jones, whose son, Gordon Jones, was killed when the Deepwater Horizon exploded, gave to me and asked me to read.”
I’ve had the pleasure of watching Antonia’s excellent work for many years, and I’ve always come away impressed, refreshed, and empowered. You’ll have the opportunity to hear her on her tour for Black Tide. I hope you’ll go. She’s an excellent speaker with an incisive mind and powerful message.
Global Exchange is very fortunate to have Antonia Juhasz as Director of their Energy Program. We’re even more fortunate that she’s taken time out from speaking Truth to Power to join us here today at FDL’s Book Salon. Please join me in giving the Lake’s warmest possible welcome to Antonia Juhasz.