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Guv cand Hawkins (G-NY): Seize & Prosecute BP

The only way that the Green Party can regain ballot status in NY is to get 50,000 votes for their Governor candidate in 2010. This opportunity comes only once every four years, and it only applies to the Governor’s race. Gaining ballot status will enable the Green Party to run more peace candidates, more single-payer candidates, more anti-fracking candidates, and more sustainable energy candidates. The last time that the Green Party of New York State had ballot status it set the record for running the most Green candidates of any state.

Howie Hawkins for GPNYS Guv by Shawna Cole

Hawkins, Lawrence, Clark Call for Obama to Seize BP Assets to Pay for Oil Spill Damage

Green Party candidates for NY statewide office, including Gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins and Cecile Lawrence and Colia Clark for US Senate, joined today in the growing call for President Obama to seize British Petroleum’s assets and to initiate criminal prosecution of BP and its leaders.. The assets seized should at least be in an amount commensurate with the damage caused by their criminal negligence, and that the funds should be placed into a trust that could quickly and easily pay for damages and compensation now and into the future as more damages accrue.

The Green Party also pointed out that the nation’s largest environmental disaster underscores the need to ban the hydrofracking for natural gas deposits in order to protect the state’s water supplies and public health.

Hawkins, who participated in the Seize BP demonstration in Syracuse last Friday, June 11, said

It is imperative that the US government seize BP’s assets to insure they are used to pay for damages and clean-up from the oil blowout before BP’s executives and owners cash out and leave the taxpayers holding the bag. It is equally imperative that the trustees of the fund to administer the use of BP’s seized assets represent the people affected and include Gulf Coast representatives of the workers, unions, and small businesses of the fishing, shrimping, crabbing, tourism, and recreation industries, local elected officials, and independent scientists and environmentalists.

As we saw in the case of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, we cannot rely on the courts for justice in corporate environmental crimes. Exxon’s legal army stretched the case out over two decades. The original jury award of  $5 billion in punitive damages was reduced by 90 percent to $507 million by the time the US Supreme Court rendered the final decision in 2008.

When Republican former Army Chief of Staff Colin Powell and Democratic former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and the states of Florida and Louisiana agree with the grassroots environmental movement and the Green Party that the government should take control of BP’s assets, the only politics that can stop the Seize BP movement now are the politics of pandering to corporate power.

“The American government must take charge of cleaning up the Gulf –not stand by and watch BP’s alleged clean-up efforts. We cannot state in strong enough terms the urgency of seeing this as a threat to the lives and fortunes of all the inhabitants and nations of the Gulf. What plans are being made by the Obama Administration to assess damage to our southern neighbors, their lives and economies? This is America’s opportunity to demonstrate for humanity that it is a nation which values and protect all life,” added Colia Clark, who is seeking the Senate seat presently held by Schumer.

“Put BP in receivership immediately and seize their assets,” said Green US Senate candidate Cecile Lawrence, who is active in the campaign against hydrofracking. “How many oil drenched birds, oil drowned dolphins, and oil poisoned pelicans does it take for the Obama administration to do something responsible about this nightmare in the Gulf of Mexico? Enough already. The Obama administration’s dawdling around BP’s crime scene is emblematic of the toxic relationships between oil and gas corporations and the legislators elected to represent we the people. These corporations have destroyed the lives and livelihoods of people in the Gulf states and in states across this nation wherever they have deployed, with their sights now set on the lush hills, valleys and rivers of New York State,” Lawrence added.

In recent days, Florida and Louisiana have both made demands on BP that funds be escrowed as a down payment to cover initial damages, totaling $7.5 billion. BP says that it only has $6.8 billion in cash and cash equivalents available. BP itself is reassuring its investors that the damages in the Gulf that BP will have to pay will not exceed $3 billion to $6 billion. BP is reported to have called its large U.S. stockholders — J.P. Morgan Chase controls deposits and services for 30 percent of BP’s U.S. stock — to pressure the administration to protect BP, such as by establishing an escrow account with a low amount of damages.

Obama is expected to address the nation on Tuesday night. While he is now expected to support some form of escrow account, key issues will be the size and whether community representatives have control.

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