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May 06, 2010

Video of Oil Spill, and Statement from Michael Brune

This is a guest post by Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, who now has video footage up of him talking about Gulf oil disaster on our BP Oil Disaster website - along with this new map of the spill area.

Last year, Americans were outraged when the government bailed out the same big banks that nearly ruined our economy. We had to do it, we were told, because these banks were "too big to fail." Now we're being asked for another bailout -- this time for BP, the company whose irresponsibility has brought ruin to the Gulf of Mexico. Initial estimates for just the first few months of cleanup are in the billions.

Although President Obama has said that BP must pay the bill for its titanic oil disaster, the Oil Pollution Act currently on the books caps liability for economic damages at a paltry $75 million dollars. After that, an oil-tax trust fund kicks in another $1 billion. And after that, the bill will be delivered to the American taxpayer.

To make sure that BP's corporate hand stays out of your pockets, the Sierra Club is backing The Big Oil Bailout Prevention Act, cosponsored by senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Bill Nelson (D-FL). Also known as "Too Big to Spill," the act would retroactively raise the $75 million liability cap to $10 billion. (By the way, BP had $12 billion in cash on its balance sheets at the end of the last quarter.)

Of course, even that amount of money won't be enough to restore the fisheries and bayous of the Gulf Coast. I just had the opportunity -- "pleasure" is not the word -- to visit Louisiana and fly over the affected area. As far as 76 miles from the site of the explosion, you could clearly see the oil pollution -- ribbons of orange muck coursing through the water. Oil was already washing up on the outer islands.

You can't see this mess and not be angered by the impact BP has had on this entire region.

Like so many issues, this one ends up being about responsibility. Sierra Club members and supporters are doing their part. Already the Club has mobilized 2,000 volunteers in the Gulf States to aid in recovery efforts. We're also continuing our decades-long efforts to usher in clean-energy solutions, so we no longer have to sacrifice our beaches and wildlife to prolong our dependence on oil.

BP, on the other hand, is running an expensive public relations campaign in an attempt to mask the full extent of the damage in the Gulf and minimize their accountability. Anyone who is here in the Gulf, talking to residents and seeing the oil on the water, knows that the impacts of this disaster can't be minimized. BP needs to be accountable for every penny of the response effort and for every job lost.

Join Michael Brune for a livechat about the oil disaster today at 4:30 PT / 7:30 ET.
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