BP serving free lemonade in the French Quarter…

Extra ice, please...

So, I saw another BP commercial the other day, and it seemed a bit…disingenuous.

I mean, we all want the Gulf to be okay. We do. It’s our finest hope that lives so rudely interrupted by BP’s catastraphuk can get back to normal…but these advertisements, the ones that make it look like maybe the oil spill was the best thing that could’ve happened to the Gulf, the way it brought entire communities together, singing Kumbaya and building spiritual alters to Bob Dudley’s benevolence?

Really, British Petroleum needs to knock it off…

If BP pisses in a glass and tells everyone it’s lemonade…sure, the people might believe it until they pick up the glass, but then they’re going to wonder why it’s being served so warm, and that’s really what BP’s doing, serving warm lemonade nationwide.

Since the beginning of this thing, 20 months ago, this oil company has been in public relations mode, spinning selective facts at a million dollar pace, and over the past couple of weeks, it’s only amped up and would seem poised to continue throughout the football playoffs, tailor-made for a nationwide audience.

“I’m glad to report that all beaches and waters are open for everyone to enjoy!” BP representative Iris Cross says in one TV spot to an upbeat soundtrack.

Yeah, except, it’s not true.

“They talk about areas being all open. There are areas that are still closed,” said A.C. Cooper, a shrimp fisherman in Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana. He listed some bays and fishing spots that he says the state still has closed due to oil contamination. “It’s bogus, it’s not the truth.”

That’s right…fishing areas still closed…20 months later.

“And the economy is showing progress, with many areas on the Gulf Coast having their best tourism season in years,” Cross continues, beaming away.

Again, not entirely true.

Bridgette Varone, head of the Gulf Coast chapter of the Mississippi Hospitality & Restaurant Association, said restaurants reported similar revenues in both 2010 and 2011 for the month of June, one of the busiest months, “I wish we had better news to report,” Varone said. “We didn’t blow any socks off.”

And…

“The numbers on our shrimp are way down,” Cooper continued, “They (BP) make it sound like they’re doing a lot, but they’re not doing much to help the fishermen out … I got good fishermen struggling to pay their bills right now.” In addition, the head of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, a commercial shrimpers group, called it “BP propaganda…When you have a lot of money, you can pretty much get any point across,” Clint Guidry complained. “It’s kind of like indoctrination.”

I don’t know, that sounds a lot like extraneous details…one might even call it unimportant anecdote…

Tom Mueller, a BP spokesman, said the ad campaign was highlighting “facts,” not “anecdotes.”

See?

So step right up and grab a glass…British Petroleum has spared no expense, even hiring two chefs, Emeril Lagasse and John Besh to serve up the lemonade, along with fish tacos and seafood jambalaya to tourists in town to catch the football games at the Superdome…

Because the seafood, it’s safe, get it?

Right.

Maybe if you have three shrimp per year…but if not, there might be a bigger problem, because when it comes to testing seafood coming out of the Gulf:

“The FDA is not only allowing PAH levels 100 to 10,000 times higher than normally considered safe….in fact, the FDA guidelines for testing are inadequate to begin with.  From not testing the entire organism’s body to grossly underestimating the amounts of seafood consumed by the average seafood eater…we should be very concerned about FDA guidelines for Gulf seafood.”

Hmm, it would seem some scientists aren’t drinking the lemonade.

Course, if British Petroleum wanted to make the argument things are fine with the ecology, the economy and the seafood they might want to make sure they’ve not left well over a million gallons of oil in the Gulf…but when it comes to transitioning away from cleanup towards restoration, British Petroleum also served a few pitchers to the Coast Guard, who approved of the transitional plan despite scenes such as:

“…Lafourche (Parish)… BP and the Coast Guard have still not removed three land bridges and two sheet-pile closures in Fourchon installed during the spill to keep oil from getting through breaches on the beach into interior marshes. “We are hesitant to remove them because of the oil. It’s collected above and below them,” Charlotte Randolph (Lafourche Parish President) said. “We don’t want to pull them out and allow that oil into marshes.”

Or as Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Chairman Garret Graves put it:

“The whole discussion goes back to legacy response,” Graves said. “You have more oil unaccounted for right now than was spilled during the Exxon Valdez. Tell me what would happen if the Coast Guard in Alaska had said, ‘We’re not going to clean this up. Let it naturally degrade.”

Seems to me like there’s a lot more work to do, regardless of what the advertisements say and British Petroleum needs to learn, no matter how many times they say it, no matter how much money they have, public relations spin is still a lie, the truth is still out there and that truth remains below the surface of the water, in the marshes and on the dinner plates…

BP needs to have continued monitoring for oil in the Gulf with cleanup response at the ready. BP needs to be pushing sincere testing of Gulf seafood, instead of testing geared towards an end result. BP needs to stop shoving their self-proclaimed innocence down people’s throats and/or smothering them with rosy, tourist advertisements that deny the problem.

Or hell, go ahead, make your tourist advertisements, but make them honest…let people know that sure, coming on down to the Gulf for a vacation can be safe, fun and relaxing…but that your company still has so much more to do, and you intend to do it, for reals…and you don’t intend to withdraw your efforts while turning up the volume on your commercials, because here’s the thing…if you dumb bastards keep lying about the Gulf, by the time you don’t need to lie anymore, nobody will believe you’re telling the truth.

I don’t care who BP pays to hand out fish tacos in the French Quarter, it doesn’t fix the Gulf, and it doesn’t make everything fine again…

And no amount of warm lemonade will change that fact

Have a nice day.

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The Big Fix…

It's a start...

From American Zombie…

This Friday, 2pm @ the CAC….please attend the press conference for the documentary film, The Big Fix.  More info at the Krewe of Truth.

This film is extremely important as it’s the best chance the Gulf Coast has of exposing the truth of what’s actually happened in the wake of the BP oil spill.  I will be at the presser shooting it…I think it’s important to document everything that has gone on in the wake of this spill in order to at least set the historic record straight.

If you haven’t already, check out his post from yesterday, including pictures taken of the oil, BP oil, still hitting the barrier islands off the coast of Mississippi…

Here’s the link:

The Big Fix

Have a nice day.

Dolphins, Turtles, Red Snapper…and now, sand dollars and starfish…

British Petroleum? Nah...they've made things right already...free cars for everyone in the studio audience!

Most everybody’s aware by now there were an abnormal amount of dead dolphin calves washing ashore this year, as well as a much larger than usual number of turtles dying, and there is of course the red snapper, with the NOAA recommending if fishermen catch the fish, or any other kinds of fish with lesions, fin rot or other assorted maladies they not touch them with bare hands and throw them overboard, all while they continue to maintain the seafood is safe to eat. But, with all these strange events, it would seem to make sense that these occurrences, when placed side by side could be readily explained by a certain oil spill, and a certain dumping of dispersants into the Gulf of Mexico to combat said oil spill…but if you buy that explanation, you’d be wrong.

Dolphins? Probably an algae bloom.

Turtles? Damned shrimpers trawling.

Red Snapper? Well, bacteria obviously.

Okay, then how about the sand dollars and starfish washing ashore along Florida beaches?

From the Pensacola News Journal:

“At first glance, it looks like a coin machine exploded on the shoreline. Thousands of sand dollars cover the beach from the Fort Pickens gate area to at least a mile west. And they’re also directly across Santa Rosa Sound from that area, on the south shore of Gulf Breeze.

The nickel- and quarter-sized sand dollars are all dead. They’re not white; rather, they’re tinged green like a coin left in water. The mass die-off is raising concerns about what killed or is killing the sand dollars and hundreds of sea stars mixed in with them.”

And then we get to the quotes from the locals, a type of quote that those following the events of the Gulf are becoming far too familiar with, uncomfortably so:

“This is not a normal thing,” Mary Lynn White 53, said. “I’ve lived in Gulf Breeze all my life. I grew up on the water, and I always take notice of changes. Something is killing them. I’d definitely say it is related to the oil spill.”

Or this one:

“I had a bait net, and I was able to scoop up the net full of them over and over and over,” said Berta Hurston, 56, of Gulf Breeze. “I’ve never seen anything like this. And I grew up in the area and I live on the water. It’s really disturbing to me.”

I seem to remember many similar statements made about the amount of dead dolphins, (never seen it like this before) turtles (no, not like this) and the condition of some of the fish being caught in the Gulf (been here thirty years and no, never), not to mention the woeful beginning to the brown shrimp season where the shrimp were more  scarce than usual and undersized, leading some shrimpers to call for an early end to the season as it might do more harm than good, and the docks aren’t buying them anyway.

In each and every one of these situations, there is an alternative culprit besides the oil spill that can be named…

But this many deaths across this many species, not to mention the fish kills occurring earlier in the year…could reasonable lead a person to believe one of two things…

Either the oil spill is the culprit, BP’s gotta pay and Feinberg needs to revise his estimation that all will be well in the Gulf by 2012 (good luck proving that in court), or…the Gulf of Mexico is in a real lot of trouble.

Neither option is appealing…but my money’s on British Petroleum being at fault.

Call it a hunch, a hunch constructed of several coincidences, with unfortunately more expected to come.

Have a nice day.

The Red Snapper…what am I supposed to make of this?

Am I gonna live, Doc?

Over the course of a week, it would appear a very interesting development has occurred regarding Red Snapper caught off the shore of Alabama…and it’s all got me a bit confused.

Last week, in the Pensacola News Journal, the NOAA was warning anglers that some fish are sick and may pose health problems if handled or eaten raw. The agency further suggests anglers be on the look out for fish that have lesions, fin rot, or discolored skin and toss these fish away.

Jim Cowan Jr., a Louisiana State University Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences scientist reports that the locations where the sick fish have been found correlate with areas most impacted by the BP oil spill. The NOAA, however, states that the LSU findings are preliminary, but Cowan said he believes the problems are more widespread, “I’m very worried because I’ve talked to both commercial and recreational fishermen who have been in the business 30 to 40 years and no one has seen anything like this,”

But, that was last week…

This week, I read in the Alabama Press-Register, the following headline:

“Snapper Season 2011, one year after BP oil spill: ‘Bigger, badder and better'”

Skipper Thierry, a charter boat captain, said he was initially fearful of what the season might bring, but after witnessing scientists continue to search the seafloor for oil and come up empty time and time again, Thierry has had a change of heart, “I think the fish are fine. I think the fishing’s fine. We still have a little bit of a perception problem — or maybe a lot of a perception problem — with the public. Nothing is going to heal that but time.”

As for a prediction about this year’s snapper season, Thierry said it’s going to be outstanding, “We left a lot of fish out there last year, and the spill didn’t kill them. That moves right on up the food chain. The fish are everywhere…I’ll say this: The Gulf, the red snapper, everything out there, is bigger, badder, and better than it’s ever been. And it really is. Nobody can deny that.”

Maybe, maybe not…I guess it all just depends on who you ask, and which day of the week it is.

And that’s unfortunate, very unfortunate because when it comes to all these perception problems, articles so diametrically opposed are a huge part of the problem…

Have a nice day.