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90 Years of Oil and Gas Devastation LMOGA Meeting

February 21st, 2013

February 21, 2012                        For Immediate Release
Contact: Anne Rolfes, Founding Director, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, (504) 452-4909
FOIA Victory: Inspection of Exxon Released as Louisiana Mid Continent Oil and Gas Association Celebrates 90th Anniversary

90 Years of Wetland Destruction

Where
When
BATON ROUGE:
2527 Lupine – Standard Heights neighborhood
11 am
Thursday, Feb 21st
NEW ORLEANS:
Ritz Carlton Hotel, 921 Canal Street between Dauphine and Burgundy
11 am
Thursday, Feb 21st

(New Orleans) ExxonMobil Baton Rouge – the nation’s second largest refinery – has failed to inspect over 1,000 pipes and has hundreds of others that are ruptured and corroded. The problems are detailed in the complete Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) inspection released today at the Louisiana Mid Continent Oil and Gas Association (LMOGA) meeting. “Ninety years of oil and gas in Louisiana has not brought the prosperity that the industry has promised,” said Anne Rolfes, Founding Director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade (LABB). “This inspection of Exxon is a perfect example of the oil industry in Louisiana: they operate on the cheap, they don’t invest in their infrastructure so that they can maximize profits. Meanwhile Louisiana bears the brunt of their abuse: pollution and the destruction of our coast.” Steven Blume, the disgraced former manager of the Exxon refinery, is a LMOGA board member.

”Thanks largely to the oil and gas industry, over the last 90 years, Louisiana has lost approximately 2,000 square miles of wetlands that provide habitat for wildlife and storm protection for our communities,” said Dan Favre of the Gulf Restoration Network, “Unless LMOGA uses this meeting to decide to get serious about the oil and gas industry paying their fair share for coastal restoration, they’re just celebrating getting rich off of our state’s demise.”
"Black and white says it all,” said Tonga Nolan, Secretary of the Standard Heights Neighborhood Association.  I am hoping that now that we have this report in black and white that the truth will be acknowledged exposing negligent and insufficient efforts covered up by corporations, including Exxon.  Now that their lies are exposed, I hope they will become powerless." 
The pollution from ExxonMobil and the devastation of the wetlands were underscored by state and federal meetings on Wednesday to deal with the impacts of the oil industry’s recklessness:
  • The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority met to address coastal erosion and land loss. Scientists have determined the oil industry to be responsible for 30% to 60% of the coastal wetlands loss Louisiana has experienced.
  • The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council will hear public comments at the University of New Orleans Wednesday regarding how the Clean Water Act fines for the BP Disaster should be spent.
While Wednesday’s meetings address the current impacts of failures by the oil industry, the inspection report reveals ongoing problems at Exxon’s Baton Rouge refinery. The facility and chemical plant were inspected in July for compliance with the Clean Air Act and Risk Management Program. The inspection was made public in December but included redactions. The LABB submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the EPA for the unredacted inspection.  ExxonMobil claimed Confidential Business Information (CBI). Now uncovered, the redacted items do not detail CBI but instead shoddy operations and mismanagement.  Among the redacted items uncovered:
  • Did not inspect 1000+ pipes; 249 pipe inspections are overdue; “many” pipes are corroded (p. 16)
  • 253 pipelines had less than the minimum thickness;  57 pipelines were leaking/ruptured
  • Did not have the minimum number of operators to implement emergency procedures (p. 26)
The EPA admonishes ExxonMobil in bold letters: “listing the mechanical integrity program as ‘OK’ is not representative of what actually exists at the facility.” (p. 19)
“Cripple Creek produces work that deals directly with pressing social issues facing the Southeast Region of the United States,” said Andy Vaught, Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Cripple Creek Theatre Company. “We present plays, both original and classic that deal with topics ranging from political corruption, poverty, urban violence, and corporate malevolence. Exxon’s pollution in Baton Rouge touches on all of those issues.”

The groups are calling for enforcement of laws and for the oil industry to hire more people to solve its problems. “The bad news is that the oil industry in Louisiana is a catastrophe, with too few workers and rusting infrastructure. The good news is that solving its problems means hiring more workers and investing in equipment, actions that would help Louisiana’s economy and protect our health and our environment,” said Ms. Rolfes.

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Cripple Creek Theatre Company is a professional non-profit organization dedicated to producing works of cultural, historical, and political significance in order to provoke the general public into social action.
The Gulf Restoration Network is an environmental advocacy non-profit dedicated to uniting and empowering people to protect and restore the natural resources of the Gulf of Mexico region. More at www.healthygulf.org.
The Louisiana Bucket Brigade is an environmental health and justice organization supporting neighborhoods’ use of grassroots action to create informed, sustainable communities free from industrial pollution.
The Standard Heights Neighborhood Association is a community across from the South Gate of ExxonMobil’s Baton Rouge Refinery. The residents of our neighborhood are family oriented, caring, determined, and dedicated to the wellbeing of our neighborhood and handling of our uninvited exposure of chemicals.