Community Leaders Respond to National Report on Gulf Oil Disaster
Gulf Coast Fund and Community Groups Stress Urgency of Implementation
NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health (http://www.gulfcoastfund.org), along with leaders from communities most impacted by the drilling disaster, applaud the work of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and are united in the urgent need to implement reforms.
Key recommendations supported by community leaders include:
- The formation of a Gulf of Mexico Regional Citizens Advisory Council, to ensure that oil and gas production in the Gulf is safer and accident response swift and effective
- Creation of an independent entity, funded by the oil industry, to develop and promote best management practices and raise industry standards
- Legislation to redirect 80% of Clean Water Act fines to Gulf restoration and recovery, governed by a state-federal Gulf Recovery Council
- A Citizens Advisory Committee made up of people most impacted by the drilling disaster to advise the Gulf Coast Recovery Council
LaTosha Brown, Director, Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health: "The Gulf oil drilling disaster brought to light and exposed the need for independent, authoritative governmental oversight of the oil industry. We hope the recommendations in this report will mark the beginning of a new paradigm in government and private accountability to our coastal communities, public health, and to our treasured public assets -- regardless of social, economic, and even geographic diversity."
Aaron Viles, Deputy Director, Gulf Restoration Network, and Advisor, Gulf Coast Fund: "The establishment of a Regional Citizens Advisory Council, ideally made up of community leaders and stakeholders from across the Gulf who have been most impacted by the drilling disaster, would improve communication and trust between the industry, the public, and decision-makers. By giving the communities who pay the price for the oil industry's mistakes a seat at the table to check on oil spill prevention and response plans, we can help make sure a disaster of this magnitude never happens again. The challenge ahead is to see that these recommendations are implemented, because a healthy and sustainable Gulf Coast is essential not only to this area but to our entire country."
Regarding the use of dispersants to clean up the oil in the Gulf, the report acknowledges that more analysis of dispersants is needed, as well as follow-up monitoring of their long-term effects. Environmental Scientist Wilma Subra, Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN), and Advisor, Gulf Coast Fund: "It is imperative that independent analysis and monitoring take place. We're seeing that coastal residents and cleanup workers are already experiencing acute health impacts as a result of exposure to dispersants and crude oil. These are long-term, chronic health issues that will linger."
Derrick Evans, Executive Director, Turkey Creek Community Initiatives, and Advisor, Gulf Coast Fund: "Given the nation's continued reliance on our region's energy production, and the additional problem of pollution from 31 states draining to the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River, the enforcement of Clean Water laws and the steering of monetary penalties toward restoring the battered Gulf and its ecosystems is a highly pragmatic and overdue approach. Hopefully it marks the beginning of finally treating and healing what essentially amounts to North America's severely diseased liver. The challenge ahead is to see that these recommendations are implemented -- and funding is key. With the Commission's proposal, the Gulf may soon enjoy the health care coverage that it has long deserved and desperately needed."
Barbara Nonas, Communications, Gulf Coast Fund
(212) 759-4378; (917) 902-6061
SOURCE Gulf Coast Fund