Cross-posted from the Wonk Room.
More than 100 youth and community members from the Gulf Coast are travelling to Washington D.C. on Friday for Power Shift 2011 to deliver a unified message: The BP oil disaster is not over. One year after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded, sending 11 men to a fiery grave, BP’s crude and dispersants are still impacting the Gulf and its communities. Entire cultures and livelihoods are in peril, there is a growing health crisis, and BP’s oil disaster is accelerating damage to the fragile coastal ecosystem. “Louisiana youth are awake,” says Devin Martin, a graduate of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and Power Shift coordinator for the Louisiana chapter of the Sierra Club:
Louisiana youth are awake. We know that our dependence on offshore drilling creates a dysfunctional democracy and is not an economic strategy for our future. From nuclear meltdowns to mountaintop-removal coal mining to the ongoing disaster in the Gulf, we are constantly reminded of why young people are passionate to create a sustainable clean energy future and restore government to “We the People.”
The diverse contingent from the Gulf Coast includes BP oil spill cleanup workers, injured chemical workers from Texas, Vietnamese youth from the fishing community in Biloxi, Miss., historic African-American communities that have faced environmental justice issues for years, college students from Tulane, Louisiana State University, Grambling, and more. Two of the people attending Power Shift have just completed walking 1,243 miles to D.C. from New Orleans to draw attention to the plight of the Gulf Coast.
The contingent will speak on six panels at the conference and blog about the experience on BridgeTheGulfProject.org, a citizen journalism project for Gulf Coast communities:
- Restoring the Gulf Coast: Voices from the front lines
- Community organizing in the midst of crisis: Gulf Coast responses to BP, Katrina, and more
- From plantations to plants: Race, poverty, and energy in the dirty Gulf south
- Beyond BP: Life in America’s energy sacrifice zone
- The BP health crisis
- Where does the BP oil disaster waste get dumped?
BP has scored a $10 billion tax refund for its part in cleaning up its toxic crime. On Tax Day, Monday, April 18, the Gulf Coast contingent will take action in front of BP’s lobbying headquarters, and meet with their members of Congress to demand that Congress and the president act now to stop the crisis on America’s Gulf Coast, and make BP truly pay for their disaster.