This past Sunday environmentalists, supporters of Gulf fisheries, and concerned residents gathered in front of St. Louis cathedral in New Orleans to voice their concerns about the oil spill moving its way toward the gulf coast.
Speakers included the president of the United Commercial Fishermen’s Association, local activists, an Environmental Studies professor from Loyola University, and a representative from Matter of Trust.
Matter of Trust is a non-profit which collects hair (both human and animal) and makes oil spill booms. According to the speaker, the organization grew more in the month following the spill than in the past ten years combined.
The messages of the speakers varied, but they all agreed that it was time for BP to take responsibility and pay appropriate reparations for the damage incurred to the coast. Several speakers focused on the harmful effects of dispersants, pointing out that the harmful chemicals being used by BP were in fact worse than the oil spill itself. According to one of the speakers Corexit, the dispersant being used by BP, is not approved by the EPA but is still being used in the gulf causing untold problems for the people and animals exposed to the chemical.
One of the speakers called the crowd’s attention to the loss of eleven lives when the rig exploded. He led the crowd in clapping once for each life, which was then followed by a spontaneous round of applause and cheering.
Even though it rained on and off, the crowd never thinned and only grew more passionate as the rain stopped and the sun came out.
Colorful characters abounded at the rally. A group of local musicians came decked out in Mardi Gras attire, playing trumpets, trombones, and tubas. Another couple dressed as a pair of animals covered in the oil, and my friend Patrick put on a gorilla costume for the event.
For more information about the use of dispersants in the Gulf, check out this article from the Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703406604575278662019860160.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLETopStories
For the latest new on the spill, the BBC has been doing a great job, here’s the article they posted today: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/10202162.stm
And finally, here are some of my pictures from the rally: