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Capitol Hill Demonstration Marks Three-Month Anniversary of BP Oil Disaster

July 20, 2010
Capitol Hill Demonstration Marks Three-Month Anniversary of BP Oil Disaster

Groups call on lawmakers to pass legislation to end America’s addiction to oil, give oil money to Gulf relief efforts

Washington, D.C.—A broad coalition of public interest, faith and environmental groups—joined by Gulf Coast residents directly impacted by the spill—marked today’s three-month anniversary of the BP oil catastrophe at a rally on Capitol Hill. They called on Congress to pass legislation to end America’s addiction to oil and urged lawmakers to donate money raised from the oil industry to the clean-up efforts in the Gulf.

The group gathered outside the U.S. Capitol carrying signs declaring, “Congress: You have oil on your hands.” Participants demanded that their members of Congress get dirty energy money out of politics and take immediate action to pass climate and energy legislation that protects people and the planet—not polluters.

Although BP has at least temporarily capped the gushing well, its duty to restore the Gulf and coastal communities remains. “BP’s crude is coming ashore in coastal marshes that were already devastated by the oil and gas industry, and our nation’s decision to treat the Gulf of Mexico as a national sacrifice zone. It’s critical that Congress get off oil and lead our country in that same direction while making sure the Gulf’s coast and communities are protected, restored and made whole,” said Aaron Viles, campaign director for the Gulf Restoration Network.

“There’s exactly one reason our government is not ending our addiction to oil, even as that addiction imperils our planet,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “It’s the same reason the government showers billions of dollars of subsidies on Big Oil, even as the oil companies generate tens of billions in profits every year. The reason: the oil money that despoils Capitol Hill as surely as BP’s oil is poisoning the Gulf. Saving our planet means ending our addiction to oil, and Congress’ addiction to oil money.”
Added Denise Avellino, a MoveOn member from New Orleans who spoke at the rally, “For 22 years, I have helped run a small business in New Orleans selling and repairing sailing and fishing gear. The BP disaster has had a huge impact on our business. There have been entire days when our phone has not rung once—and this is usually our biggest time of year. We can’t let this happen again—we must end our addiction to oil.”
The rally featured speeches from leaders of diverse faith communities. “Jews, Christians and Muslims are joining today in this action out of spiritual commitment. We must free ourselves from addiction to fossil fuels, free our Congress from Big Oil’s top-down control—and  heal our wounded Earth, the sacred Temple of all peoples and all life-forms,” said Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center.
Following the rally, delegations of activists visited the offices of some of the lawmakers who have taken the most in campaign contributions from BP during the 2008 and 2010 election cycles. Activists called on their members in Congress to unload crude-tainted money and turn it over to groups like the Gulf Coast Fund that are working toward the recovery of decimated coastal communities. Members of Congress were also asked to refuse any further contributions from Big Oil.

“Senators need to make a choice, and the American people need to let them know what it must be,” said Ted Glick, policy director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “Senators can side with BP, ExxonMobil and other dirty energy companies that have dominated U.S. energy policy, or they can take action to support the clean, 21st century energy sources that must, absolutely must, be our future, and soon. Just as the federal government in the early ’60s made it a priority to get a man on the moon by the end of the decade, we must do the same now as far as breaking our fossil fuel addiction. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.”

ORGANIZING GROUPS include: 1Sky, 350.org, Center for Biological Diversity, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Climate Crisis Coalition, Code Pink, Corporate Ethics International, Energy Action Coalition, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Gulf Restoration Network, Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters/JPIC, Mobilization for Climate Justice West, MoveOn.org, N.C. WARN, Oil Change International, Pax Christi USA, Price Carbon Campaign, Progressive Democrats of America, Public Citizen, Shalom Center