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Green Party of Florida Calls on Obama and Crist to declare State of Emergency in response to oil rig disaster

From the Green Party of Florida:

Green Party of Florida calls on President Obama and Governor Crist to declare immediate State of Emergency on Gulf Coast in response to oil rig disaster; all available federal and state resources must be mobilized to protect threatened communities and wildlife habitats in four states

Eleven oil rig workers died in the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform, operated by oil giant British Petroleum. The cause of the explosion is unknown, but as with the coal mining industry, attempts to introduce improved safety regulations have met with stiff resistance from oil industry groups such as the American Petroleum Institute and the Offshore Operators Committee
In addition to the tragic loss of life, the accident is certain to have dire consequences for Gulf of Mexico ecosystems. 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel that was stored on the rig went into the Gulf, and the latest reports indicate crude oil is gushing into the Gulf at a rate of 8,000 barrels (400,000 gallons) every day, from a depth of 5,000 ft. Earlier reports have downplayed the scope of the problem, but it is becoming clear that a massive ecological catastrophe is in the making.

The fast-growing oil slick, already covering several thousand square miles, presents an imminent threat to the coastal communities of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Efforts by BP and the Coast Guard to contain the spill and mitigate its damage have thus far proven ineffective, and stopping the leak could take weeks or months. Whether it can be stopped at all is an open question at this point.

The Green Party of Florida calls on President Obama to declare an immediate State of Emergency for the entire Gulf Coast and the Gulf of Mexico, and for Governor Crist to do the same in Florida. Federal and state emergency management agencies must take immediate action to mobilize all available resources to protect coastal communities and wildlife habitats.

Florida news outlets have reported dead birds washing up on beaches as far south as the Tampa Bay area, and residents of Florida’s coastal communities are noticing a strong “chemical smell” coming off the Gulf. While there is no direct evidence linking the birds or the smell to the oil spill, a connection is likely.

Anita Stewart, a Tampa Bay area activist who helped organize the Hands Across the Sands events in February to raise awareness about the risks of offshore oil drilling, said the smell was very noticeable in the New Port Richey area on Wednesday. “This oil spill is going to have long term affects on Florida’s environment and wildlife, and eventually it is going to hit the Gulf Coast beaches,” Stewart says. “Tourism brings in about $57 billion to the state’s economy, and Florida’s tourism industry will take a big hit when crude oil tarballs and dead birds and fish are washing up on our beaches.”

Many Florida Greens are deeply concerned and speaking out about the oil spill disaster. Among them:

Henry Lawrence, co-chair of the Bay County Green Party and former county commission candidate: “We are now a week into this disaster, and it is clear that BP and the Coast Guard are not equipped to deal with a problem of this magnitude. Our beaches and our wildlife will be heavily impacted by this spill. A federal and state emergency must be declared and massive resources brought to bear, or else Gulf Coast communities in four states will be left to fend for ourselves as this oil spill heads our way.”

Michael Canney, co-chair of the Alachua County Green Party and green energy advocate: “The public has been heavily subsidizing the profits of Big Oil, Big Coal and the nuclear industry, and then when disasters occur we are left paying the bill for cleaning up the mess. The global climate crisis can’t be solved by staying the course. It is time to invest in an earth-friendly green energy policy that is based on safe and sustainable solutions for meeting people’s energy needs, instead of a policy designed to perpetuate super-profits for Big Oil and giant energy corporations.”

Jennifer Sullivan, co-chair of the Hernando County Green Party and Nature Coast environmental activist: “The costs of this spill must not be passed on to taxpayers in Louisiana and Florida, who are already paying $3/gallon for gas and subsidizing tax breaks for Big Oil. Some of the damage done can’t be repaired, but citizens must demand that our government hold BP accountable to pay every penny of the clean up costs, which might turn out to be as big as the Exxon Valdez spill before this is over.”

Steve Showen, co-chair of the Miami-Dade Green Party: “It’s unfortunate that another deadly disaster had to happen to bring home the point that offshore oil drilling is a bad idea. ‘Drill Baby Drill’ leads to ‘Spill Baby Spill.’ Let’s hope we don’t wait for another major nuclear disaster to finally grasp that nuclear energy too is far too dangerous to be staking our future energy policy on.”

The Green Party of Florida advocates a  “carbon-free, nuclear-free” energy policy, based on aggressive conservation and efficiency measures and public investment in clean, safe and renewable energy technologies. This sustainable energy paradigm has the added benefit of producing thousands of new jobs, and stimulating a burgeoning new green economy.

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For more information:

Green Party of Florida  Http://www.floridagreens.org
Green Party of the U.S. http://gp.org
GP Earth Day release on fossil fuel dangers  www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID=311

GPF Green Paper on Energy Policy (PDF): http://tinyurl.com/m2hz2w
GPF letter to Governor Crist on climate change 10/17/07 (PDF): http://tinyurl.com/nevjy5
GPF Press Release on energy policy 7/20/07 (PDF): http://tinyurl.com/kndz4f

Facebook:
1,000,000 Strong Against Offshore Drilling: http://www.facebook.com/dontdrill
Hands Across The Sand: http://www.facebook.com/HandsAcrossTheSand
Floridians Against Big Oil: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Floridians-Against-Big-Oil/134043516320

GREEN PARTY OF FLORIDA

For Immediate Release – April 29, 2010
Contact:  Michael Canney  (352) 278 4031  alachuagreen@gmail.com

Dave Schwab

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