President kicks deep sea oil drilling to the curb, Black farmer lobbyist wants meeting with BP

by Monica Davis

Newswires are reporting that President Obama has extended his moratorium on deep sea drilling in the Gulf and canceled offshore oil lease sales there and in Alaska and Virginia. In a move which is sure to fuel howls from the oil drilling industry, Obama issued a cessation order for all 33 deep sea oil drilling operations in the Gulf.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard has told newswire reporters that it seems that BP’s “top kill” procedure is working. According to the Denver Post:

“Lt. Cmdr. Tony Russell, an aide to Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, said today the mud was stopping some oil and gas but had a ways to go before it proved successful. The top kill started Wednesday night and it could be several days before officials know if it is working.”

On a pessimistic note, Russell said, “As you inject your mud into it, it is going to stop some hydrocarbons. That doesn’t mean it’s successful.”

However, “seems to be working” is the operative phrase. Tom Mueller, spokesperson for BP, formerly British Petroleum, injected caution into the issue, the AP reports: “We appreciate the optimism, but the top kill operation is continuing through the day today — that hasn’t changed,” he said Thursday morning. “We don’t anticipate being able to say anything definitive on that until later today.”

Meanwhile, labor continues on cleaning up the mess, some of which is being handled by a controversial amount of dispersants, which are themselves toxic pollutants. And the spill has had serious blowback on various government and private sector executives in the regulation and energy exploration industries.

Sources say the head of the regulatory agency which oversees the oil and gas industry has been fired. CNN is reporting that “Minerals Management Service (MMS) Director Elizabeth Birnbaum has been fired,” according to two CNN sources.

Responding to allegations of corruption in MMS ranks, CNN reports: Interior Secretary Ken “Salazar recently called the allegations of MMS corruption ‘evidence of the cozy relationship between some elements of [the agency] and the oil and gas industry.’ He pledged to follow through with the Interior Department inspector general’s recommendations, ‘including taking any and all appropriate personnel actions including termination, discipline and referrals of any wrongdoing for criminal prosecution.’”

Meanwhile, Black farmer lobbyist John Boyd Jr., president of the National Black Farmers’ Association, has called for a meeting with BP. Boyd is concerned that Black and Native American farmers and fishermen are being overlooked in the search for farmers and fishermen whose lands and fishing grounds have been polluted.

In a statement (published in full below), Boyd said, “NBFA is calling for a meeting with British Petroleum‭ (‬BP‭) ‬officials to discuss the losses of Black farmers and fishermen.‭ ‬Black farmers and fishermen must be compensated at the same levels as whites.‭ ‬We have finished last for too long when it comes to being compensated for our business and farm losses.”

Black farmers and fishermen must be compensated at the same levels as whites.‭ ‬We have finished last for too long when it comes to being compensated for our business and farm losses.

There are health losses as well. Reports are surfacing of fishermen and cleanup workers contracting breathing problems. As has been reported earlier, many contract workers and volunteers had been cleaning up oil residue and dead, oil-drenched wildlife without the benefit of protective clothing. Clean up crew members and fishermen are reporting health problems – and there is a shortage of facilities to treat them.

Some fishermen who have been hired by BP to clean up the gulf oil spill say they have become ill after working long hours near waters fouled with oil and dispersant, prompting a Louisiana lawmaker to call on the federal government to open mobile clinics in rural areas to treat them.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, Clint Guidry, acting president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, testifying Monday before a delegation of U.S. senators and state and federal officials in Galliano, Louisiana, said: “There has been no respiratory protective PPE (personal protective equipment) issued to workers working over this most dangerous area, even as a precaution to have available given they are working 60 miles offshore. In fact when some individuals brought their own respirators, they were told by BP representatives on site that if they wore the respirators they would be released from the job. That disturbs me greatly.”

And finally, a word on censorship: According to a CBS video with footage on the confrontation, “When CBS News tried to reach the beach, covered in oil, a boat of BP contractors with two Coast Guard officers on board told us to turn around under threat of arrest.”

“In other words,” comments in response, “the U.S. Coast Guard is now protecting the financial interests of corporations by trying to censor a story the public needs to see.”

Monica Davis, an Indiana-based author, columnist, activist and radio broadcaster with 10 years’ experience in marketing, advertising, investigation and activism, can be reached at Bay View staff contributed to this report, which originally appeared on Before It’s News.

Black Farmers president calls for action from BP

Statement issued by John W. Boyd, President, National Black Farmers Association

The National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) has thrown its support behind the farming and fishing families living in the shadow of the worst oil spill in history in the Gulf of Mexico, association president John W. Boyd Jr. announced Tuesday.

“We are concerned about the livelihood of those who make their living on the land and in the coastal waters who are affected by the oil spill. We extend our prayers and well wishes to the affected families,” Boyd said in a statement announcing his plan to visit the affected areas in Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast.

The NBFA is seeking to meet with British Petroleum (BP) officials to discuss the losses to Black farmers and fishermen and others who often are hit hardest in such disasters. Boyd said those least prepared to sustain the income and property losses “must be compensated at the same levels as whites. We have finished last for too long when it comes to being compensated for our business and farm losses.”

Boyd said his upcoming visit to the area will allow him to assess the damages and meet with affected individuals out of concern for the plight of those hardest hit and least prepared for recovery work. “I am seeing frightening images of poor people, Blacks and whites, working on the cleanup process without protective goggles, boots or clothing. This is unacceptable. This spill will have long term health and economic consequences among the residents and workers of affected areas of the Gulf Coast.

“Even as the NBFA struggles to secure payments pledged by the Obama administration to thousands of Black farmers to offset discrimination in federal loan and subsidy programs, its members want to assist the victims of the BP well explosion and oil spill, Boyd said. The NBFA, with its experience in advocating for justice for Black farmers, wants to assist similar efforts to assure fairness in the Gulf Coast area, he said.

”We want to assist Black farmers and fishermen to receive payment for damaged property, loss of income and long term issues associated with this spill. BP’s response to Black farmers and Black fisherman thus far has been unacceptable. I aim to press BP for justice for NBFA members and other people of color in this catastrophe.”

Boyd said Black fishermen and farmers and other persons of color in those occupations in the Gulf Coast region have faced discrimination similar to the unjust treatment of Black farmers over decades by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

BP’s response to Black farmers and Black fisherman thus far has been unacceptable. I aim to press BP for justice.

“Little has been done to address the losses of the Black fisherman,” he said, “just as there has been little effort to rectify the losses of Black land theft by the U.S. government.”

National Black Farmers Association President John W. Boyd Jr. can be reached at 68 Wind Rd., Baskerville VA 23915, and or