February 3, 2016 For immediate release
Contact: Anne Rolfes, Founding Director, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, (504) 452-4909
Nonewleases.org For text alerts, text “Superdome” to 88202
Press conference: Wednesday, February 3, 2016 at 10:15 am at the Superdome near the front ramps on Sugar Bowl Drive (parallel to Poydras)
Historic call for an end to new drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico
Groups plan to surround Superdome during March auction, call for 1,000 new workers
(New Orleans) For the first time in the history of the oil industry in the Gulf of Mexico, individuals and groups in the region and across the country are calling for an end to new oil and gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico. The groups are also calling for the immediate hiring of 1,000 workers to repair the industry’s aging infrastructure and protect the Gulf from future oil spills.
“Since the 1970s, communities in the Gulf of Mexico have asked the oil industry to address the massive problems that the industry has caused, from air pollution and wetland destruction to offshore oil spills and destruction of fisheries,” said Anne Rolfes, Founding Director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. “The oil industry has repeatedly refused even the most reasonable of requests. Now we’re demanding an end to new oil and gas leases. It’s time to phase out of dirty and dangerous fossil fuels, especially on public lands.”
Among the individuals and groups leading the call are communities impacted by oil refinery pollution, communities devastated by oil spills, fishermen and oystermen whose livelihoods have been damaged by the oil industry. They are being supported by Center for Biological Diversity, Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, 350.org and other national environmental groups. The groups have launched a Care2 petition targeting the White House, calling for the lease sale to be cancelled and 1,000 workers to be hired. The petition has already generated over 45,000 supporters.
The call for jobs and an end to drilling is happening in conjunction with a March 23 drilling lease auction of 43 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico. The event is being called New Lease on Life. The site of the auction is the Louisiana Superdome, the evacuation of last resort during Hurricane Katrina, which Gulf residents plan to surround during the auction. The acres to be auctioned contain the eighth largest reserve of carbon pollution on the planet.
The call for 1,000 new jobs is a call to prevent the thousands of accidents every year in the Gulf of Mexico and at refineries on shore. The oil industry’s own reports to state and federal government note that many accidents result from aging and poorly maintained infrastructure. While the oil industry is laying off workers because of the drop in the price per barrel of oil, the industry in fact needs more workers to prevent ongoing accidents.
“The marine environment, our coastal communities, our seafood and, really, the entire planet are under assault by oil and gas operations in the Gulf,” said Jonathan Henderson with New Orleans-based Vanishing Earth. “Everyday, oil is leaking and toxic fracking chemicals are being dumped offshore, while some 27,000 abandoned wells are ticking time bombs.”
With this action, the Gulf of Mexico region is joining the global movement for a phase out of fossil fuels and a push to keep fossil fuels in the ground. National groups have been doing high-profile opposition to new oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans as the public awaits the Obama administration’s new five-year plan for outer continental shelf fossil fuel development.
The public demonstrations at the climate talks in Paris sent a clear message that ordinary people are leading the movement to end use of fossil fuels and transition to clean energy. The next stop for the movement is New Orleans. Locals are inviting people from around the country and the world to come to New Orleans and help encircle the Superdome for a New Lease on Life.