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Green Party to Obama: Gulf spill should kill ‘Drill, baby, drill’; BP & Halliburton must be held liable for spill costs

Green Party leaders called on President Obama to cancel his call for offshore drilling in US waters off the Atlantic and Alaskan coasts, as the spreading British Petroleum oil spill threatens ecosystems and public health in the Gulf region.  Greens also urged the President to hold BP and Halliburton liable for all costs associated with the spill.

On Friday, President Obama signaled that his administration is not reconsidering plans to expand offshore drilling in the wake of the Gulf spill (“Obama won’t back off drilling plans, but pledges safeguards,” McClatchy Newspapers, http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/04/30/93216/obama-wont-back-off-drilling-plans.html).

Miriam Gennari, Green Party candidate for Arlington County, Virginia, School Board said:

President Obama’s reluctance to set aside his offshore drilling proposal is comparable to the reckless disregard shown by President George W. Bush and other public officials before and after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.

No technology can guarantee complete safety from a spill.  According to an assessment by Minerals Management Service of the damage to offshore oil and gas infrastructure caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, 183 pipelines were damaged and 113 platforms were destroyed, with six spills of 1,000 or more reported (“MMS Updates Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Damage,” May 1, 2006, http://www.mms.gov/ooc/press/2006/press0501.htm).  The 167 million acres of ocean near the Atlantic and Alaskan shores will be vulnerable to the same disaster that the Gulf states are facing right now. 

Greens said that President Obama’s capitulations to energy lobbies, including a plan to construct new nuclear power plants (http://www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID=297) and his support for “clean coal” while refusing to seek a halt to mountaintop removal mining, have surpassed those of President Bush, a former oil executive and enthusiastic ally of such industries.

The Green Party supports much stricter federal regulation of fossil fuel extraction and nuclear power, to protect workers, communities, and ecosystems, and an end to public subsidies for fossil fuel and nuclear industries.  Greens have warned about the consequences of economic and environmental policies promoted by these industries to guarantee their own profits at public expense.  Many Greens favor a moratorium on offshore drilling operations until tighter regulations and adequate insurance (not just BP’s self-insurance policy) are in place.

“President Obama wants to establish a bipartisan alliance with ‘drill, baby, drill’ Republicans to boost oil industry profits while trying to end US dependence on foreign oil sources.  But the problem isn’t just foreign oil.  It’s all fossil fuels, which have proven disastrous in the short term, with the BP spill threatening the Gulf coast, and in the long term as we face global climate change.  Democratic Party leaders deserves sharp criticism for their refusal to renew annual bans on offshore drilling beginning in 2008,” said Audrey Clement, co-chair of the Green Party of Virginia (http://www.vagreenparty.org) and co-chair of the national party’s EcoAction Committee (http://www.gp.org/committees/ecoaction/index.php).

Greens insisted that BP and Halliburton, the oilfield-services company that handled the rig’s cementing process, be held financially liable for the effects of the spill.

“No amount of money can possibly compensate for the lives lost and the damages caused by this disaster, which will be felt for years to come,” said Michael Canney, spokesperson for the Green Party of Florida (http://www.floridagreens.org) and green energy advocate.  “Taxpayers and Gulf Coast residents must not be left holding the bag for cleanup costs and damages.  BP and Halliburton must be held accountable, even if it means impounding their assets to ensure these bills get paid.”

On Thursday, April 29, the Green Party of Florida asked President Obama and Florida Governor Charlie Crist to declare a state of emergency as dead birds and chemical odors were reported along the state’s Gulf coast, and in anticipation of greater damage to beaches and other coastal areas (http://bit.ly/c3hM7k).

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