Clean It Up: Mock Oil Spill Hits Miami Beach
As part of its continuing response to the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the Sierra Club has been organizing rallies and Clean It Up events around the country to show solidarity with Gulf Coast residents, demand that BP be held accountable for the cleanup and compensate those who have lost income, and call on President Obama and Congress to halt expansion of offshore oil drilling.
One such event, a rally and mock oil spill, was held in Miami Beach on May 11. Holding signs and black tarps representing oil slicks, 100 protestors took to the beach to demonstrate the effect an oil spill would have on Florida's beaches.
Surfer/activist Mario Perdumo painted himself with black oil.
With news cameras in tow, ralliers (after politely asking permission) passed over sunbathers and tourists with a huge sheet of black polythene simulating the oil spill that is now wrapping around the coast of Louisiana.
"The cost of offshore oil drilling is tremendous," Sierra Club organizer Jonathan Ullman, below, told the crowd. "We're seeing environmental loss, tourism loss, loss to the fishing industry—we're calling for no more offshore oil drilling."
Ullman's remarks were reinforced by Miami Sierra Club leader Kent Harrison Robbins, below, and Florida Sierra Club Director Frank Jackalone. That's Miami Beach Mayor Matti Bower holding the Sierra Club sign.
"The proposal that is still in Congress to drill another 100 miles closer to Florida is so dangerous to you here because that would bring oil drilling right into the loop current," said Jackalone, below. "A spill of any size would immediately send that oil to the Keys and South Florida."
Representatives from Greenpeace, the Surfrider Foundation, 1Sky, and the Urban Paradise Guild, which conceived of the idea of the mock oil spill, joined Sierra Club volunteers and staff further down the beach, where local elected officials had gathered for a press conference.
State Senator Dan Gelber, below, discussed a proposed state constitutional initiative to keep drilling away from Florida's nearshore waters. "This is our time to stand up, so Florida can say we do not want oil rigs near our shore," Gelber said.
Miami Beach Mayor Mattie Bower, below, joined city commissioners, Chamber of Commerce leaders, local business owners, and scientists from Oceanic Defense and the Environmental Coalition of Miami Beach in warning of the threat offshore drilling poses to the local economy, tourism, and marine life.
"All the groups involved were instrumental in making this event happen," said Ullman. "They brought speakers, volunteers, drums, banners, and signs. It was a great protest in the way that only Miami can do it."