479 Reports of Oil Industry Accidents from Offshore Drilling in 2016

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                      

March 22, 2017

Contact: Anne Rolfes, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, 504-452-4909, anne@labucketbrigade.org

479 Reports of Oil Industry Accidents from Offshore Drilling in 2016
Groups Call for Cancellation of Lease Auction

(New Orleans) As the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management prepares to auction 48 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, groups are calling for a cancellation of the lease auction, echoing the call of dozens of water protectors who rallied at Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy’s office yesterday. “Senator Cassidy and our entire Congressional delegation should be leading the charge in protecting our Gulf of Mexico from an oil industry that has a terrible track record of pollution and endangerment,” said Anne Rolfes, Founding Director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. “Tourism and fishing and our restaurant industries depend on a clean Gulf of Mexico. The oil industry puts all those jobs at risk.”

The groups releasing today’s report are the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, 350 Louisiana and DisasterMap.net. The National Response Center, the federal point of contact for oil spills, received 479 reports about oil industry accidents in 2016. An assessment of the accidents by Sky Truth, an organization using satellite imagery to assess oil spills, revealed that the industry grossly underreported the volume released in its spills. The true volume is 874,413 gallons.  

“Safety begins with understanding the threat,” said Dr. Ezra Boyd, a geographer who conducted the National Response Center research.  “The industry reported 18,779 gallons of oil and other materials released because of platform accidents in 2016.  Sky Truth, an independent monitor, estimated 874,413 gallons released by these same accidents.  This is a serious discrepancy that suggests a lack of transparency.  It also undermines industry claims that they take safety serious enough to understand this threat.”  

Today’s auction is taking place a year after 300 people stormed an auction held in the Superdome last year, objecting to oil industry’s accidents and ongoing drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Shortly after that auction, Representative Garret Graves introduced a bill to bar the public from future auctions under the guise of streamlining the bidding process. “They are afraid of the public and they want to shut us out because they are acting against our interests,” said Ms. Rolfes.

The threat from pollution wasn’t the only reason cited as the reason to halt new drilling. Today’s report also noted that the average temperature in Louisiana is rising.

“2016 was the hottest year ever measured globally,” said Renate Heurich, a Climate Leader and co-Founder of 350 Louisiana. “The above average temperature of 2.25 degrees Fahrenheit in Louisiana in 2016 reflects this trend towards an increasingly hotter climate and brings us dangerously close to the 2.7 degree limit set in Paris by the global community. Heat waves are killing people, and the August storm in Louisiana was exacerbated by the warming climate.  The question is: Will we act like frogs in a pot sitting on top of a fire, or will we act now while we still have a chance to prevent reaching catastrophic climate chaos?”

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