New Orleans Rally: Standing Together for a Clean Energy Future

Authors: Alli Chagi-Starr As Green For All's team on the ground in New Orleans covers the unfolding Gulf Coast Catastrophe, all over the nation people are calling for a clean, green economy that makes it makes it possible for people to have dignified work that also protects their health and the health of communities. “Safer Energy for A Safer Tomorrow!” “No Drill! No Spill!” “Save Our Seafood!” “Who Dat Gonna Pay Dem Bills? BP!” These are some of the slogans people held up at the rally at Lafayette Square in New Orleans on Saturday. Several hundred people gathered, including fishermen and women, community leaders, and neighbors concerned about the ever-growing oil slick that’s been gushing into the Gulf for nearly three weeks. Speakers included George Barasich, President of the Louisiana Commercial Fisherman’s Association; and John Nguyen of the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association (VAYLA). Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Gulf Coast Restoration Network, Global Green and Aveda also provided information about their work to help communities suffering the effects of the disaster. Emotions ranged from sad and scared to outright enraged, as people talked about the loss of jobs, and the anticipation of the destruction of their coastline, and thus their way of life. People expressed frustration that BP failed to keep their community safe. They are concerned that they will not be fully reimbursed for their losses. George Barasich, President of the Louisiana Commercial Fisherman’s Association said:

“This is not a natural disaster, this is a man-made disaster, and we’re scared to death because there is a lot of stuff they are not telling us. The VP from BP said the dispersants they’re using aren’t bad. But, the people we network with in Alaska, said, George, don’t let them use that crap because half the people who worked on Valdez [to] clean it up are either sick or dead.”

He went on to say that in the past, use of dispersants in the Gulf for small spills caused the sterilization of oysters. No more oysters means no more way to make a living. The Gulf Coast’s economic stability has long depended on industries that are a part of the dirty energy paradigm. And industries like fishing and tourism are made vulnerable due to the practices of the pollution-based economy. This current economic system forces vulnerable communities to risk their health to make a living wage. Nobody should have to choose between their livelihood and their physical well-being. People here need help immediately, and we must act boldly to support them. At the same time we must create long-term solutions and clean energy alternatives. We must not let this tragedy unfold without creating real opportunity for the future. We must unite across all of our differences and stand together to create a new possibility out of this unfolding catastrophe. Our children are counting on it.

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