Stopping the oil is only the start

BP has – at least for now – stopped oil from pouring into the Gulf of Mexico.

But stopping the oil is only the start of the work that must be done.

Each day of the crisis has revealed new heartbreaking accounts of people affected by the oil and the extent to which the coastal ecosystem has been devastated.

Citizens have gotten a hard glimpse into the oil industry and the failings in the way the government deals with oil corporations like BP.

Citizens have also taken action to demand BP be held accountable.

Highlights of Public Citizen pressure include thousands of activists pledging to boycott BP, our citizen’s arrest action at BP’s lobbying office in D.C., on-the-ground work in Louisiana, advocating for the removal of a cap on liability for oil damages, calling for an end to BP’s federal contracts, and holding a public forum with BP claims administrator Ken Feinberg.

Public pressure is working! On June 16, President Obama announced that BP would set aside at least $20 billion to pay damages to victims of the oil spill. Both the House and Senate bills introduced in response to the oil disaster include provisions to replace the existing $75 million liability cap for oil damages with an unlimited cap. And BP is reassigning Tony Hayward to – no kidding – Siberia! (Bet that’s not what he meant when he said “I want my life back.”)

We must keep the pressure on to ensure that the summer of oil is followed by the autumn of reform, remediation and recovery.

Allison Fisher is the energy organizer for Public Citizen.