July 9, 2010; Source: Just Means | In the last couple of months, a new seemingly grassroots nonprofit—Emergency Committee to Stop the Gulf Oil Disaster—has been formed to ratchet up the pressure on BP and the Obama Administration. The Committee’s commentary on the initial efforts of BP and the Administration doesn’t mince words, describing them as “pathetic” or “squandered.” Its approach is clearly direct action, with members showing up to protest Vice President Biden’s visit in June and a public information meeting of BP and the New Orleans government.
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Direct action is all well and good, but to what end? The Committee has a 7-point platform to go with its organizing activities: 1) Stop oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico; 2) Immediately end use of dispersants (due to potential environmental and health impacts); 3) The government and entire oil industry must allocate all necessary resources to stop and clean up the blowout gusher; 4) No punishment to those taking initiative independent of BP and the government to protect the environment and public health—no gag orders on people hired, contracted, or who volunteer; 5) Complete transparency and disclosure of all information and documentation, including scientific and technical data, concerning every aspect of this disaster; 6) Full compensation for all losing livelihood and income from the disaster; and 7) Immediately provide all necessary medical services to those suffering direct and indirect health effects from the oil disaster.
It’s not totally clear who comprises the Emergency Committee: One newspaper report listed C3-Hands off Iberville, Survivors Village, World Can’t Wait, the Lower Algiers Environmental Committee, Pax Christi, and Women United for Social Justice as groups among the original organizers, though the spokesperson seems to be Larry Everest, a writer for Revolution magazine in San Francisco. The Committee’s platform appears coherent and rational, but will community organizing and direct action have any impact on BP—or the Obama Administration?—Rick Cohen