There is anger and bewilderment in New Orleans. Five years after Katrina comes the Deepwater Drilling Disaster, which continues to gush 210,000 gallons of oil into the gulf every day.
Last Saturday’s rally, organized by the Sierra Club with the support of Oceana as well as local groups such as the Gulf Restoration Network, drew several hundred supporters to Lafayette Square Park with the mantra, “Clean It Up!”
Speakers included local fishermen, wildlife experts, and politicians. The message to BP and the federal government was clear: cap the spill, clean it up, and never let it happen again.
Throughout the region, the spill is the only topic of public conversation. In restaurants, on the historic trolley, on Bourbon Street, and on the front page of every newspaper, are updates of the latest developments. Nearly everyone is fearful of what the long term economic effects may be.
On a brief visit to Venice, I spoke with a boat captain who remarked that he usually takes fishermen out every day but has only taken out two in the last two weeks, and he is not sure where the money will come from to pay his bills.
Further down the economy from the spill, a cab driver in New Orleans seemed equally concerned that his business will suffer as people throughout the region feel the shockwave.
Just as everyone is concerned for themselves, they are also concerned about wildlife, as the spill hit shore this week on some of the local islands, including a national wildlife refuge. Even without making landfall, the spill is extremely threatening to several species, such as the bluefin tuna, for which the spill area is one of the only spawning grounds in the world.
Capping the spill may take months and cleaning it may take years, but preventing it from happening again may only take the political will to disallow any new drilling from taking place.
As New Orleans yet again braces for the worst, this should serve as a wake up call to those who support expanding drilling into new areas. We no longer need to imagine the pain a spill might cause — we only need to observe the pain it is now causing.
Take action now by telling Obama and Congress to Stop the Drill.
Matt Dundas is the Campaign Manager of Oceana’s Climate and Energy Campaign.