Biloxi NAACP: Oil disaster compounds environmental, economic injustice

This week, CAP’s Brad Johnson traveled the Gulf Coast from New Orleans to Pensacola, learning how the people of the region are preparing for the oil disaster growing off their shores.  Here’s what he learned in Biloxi:

Over two weeks have passed since BP’s “safe” Deepwater Horizon exploratory rig exploded 40 miles off the Louisiana coast, killing 11 workers and unleashing an unstaunched undersea torrent of oil. Scientists shudder to think of the potential ecological catastrophe, and previously pro-drilling officials are scrambling to respond to the disaster.

Meanwhile, the residents of the coast express a mixture of resignation and determination. The people are tied together by the effort to rebuild from Hurricane Katrina, whose devastation is still evident all along the coast. Once-thriving seaside resorts are quiet, backwater communities decimated, and the joyous spirit of New Orleans still has a somber current, five years after the global-warming-fueled storm scoured the Gulf Coast.

The Biloxi NAACP has its headquarters on Main Street, next to a Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen. Biloxi NAACP President James Crowell discussed his city and the threat of the BP oil disaster with the Wonk Room in an exclusive interview on Wednesday. He described how the oil’s destruction of the sea puts the culture of the city “” from the fish called “Biloxi bacon” by locals to the shrimp boils at every family gathering “” at risk. Crowell also discussed the health, economic, and environmental dangers of this catastrophe, which will hit the most vulnerable residents the hardest:

A lot of people have health problems now, from Katrina. We’re likely to see more health problems with the oil coming in to the waters of Biloxi. There’s still people suffering from mental cases of anguish because of that Katrina. This just doubles that, something else for them to worry about.

Watch the interview:

Biloxi, MS, is a city of sharp contrasts, from mega-casinos on its white beaches to the endemic poverty of Main Street a few blocks away. With the Keesler Air Force Base, casinos, and the port and fishing industries providing an economic engine, Biloxi has some of the best elementary schools in the state and a highly-trained blue-collar workforce. But as the seas rise and storms strengthen, the peninsular city is on the front lines of global warming “” it has lost 12 percent of its population since Katrina, and home insurance rates have become ruinously expensive. Biloxi also suffers the fate of being in a state run by Gov. Haley Barbour (R), a corrupt oil-industry lobbyist who fights on the side of pollution and tried to reject the federal stimulus.

4 Responses to Biloxi NAACP: Oil disaster compounds environmental, economic injustice

  1. Grannie Looper says:

    If global warming fueled Katrina, I take it global warming ended 5 years ago. If Casinos promise prosperity, why do they still have so much poverty near the Casinos? It was wrong seeing how slow and how small the gubment response was to the transocean fire and oil leak.

  2. Bill Waterhouse says:

    re #1 – What a silly post. For starters, current same-day satellite temperatures are at an all-time high on the AMSU website, so warming is ongoing and accelerating. See also the NOAA website re hottest April ever in 2010.

    BP should clean up the mess it made – it said it couldn’t happen and then low-balled the flow. BP
    needs to put thousands of skimmers into the Gulf before hurricane season. The real gov’t screw-up was Cheney working behind the scene to cancel the requirement for a back-up acoustic safety valve that could have stopped the blow-out.

    Casinos just suck money out of the economy while creating a few low-paying jobs.

    Please go blog elsewhere.

  3. Ominous Clouds Overhead says:

    Ditto to what Bill says above about the depth of lack of intelligence in that post.

  4. JTMcPhee says:

    Hey 2 and 3, did you make any attempt to parse #1 before firing off your oh-so-typical-of-what-passes-for-content-on-the-‘net missives?

    I think GL was maybe engaging in a bit of irony and maybe even sarcasm, but of course I could be wrong. Good way to build comity and community, spitting on each other. I think Granny actually agrees with you about the “virtues” of casino owners and operators, and the reality of how they “win” government approval and the necessary legislation and permits to let them further impoverish the individual bettors/suckers and the rest of what’s left of our culture. And in case the construction is too subtle, please note that I know that institutionalized gambling is a worthless fraud, but also that many humans are going to tickle their vanity and thirst for adrenaline induction by throwing down all that moolah on the tables and mechanically and religiously pumping the handles of all those slots. Hey, I wonder if all the bright flashing lights in the gaming rooms might not be more efficiently powered by little generators run off the armpower of all those idiot silverhairs pushing quarters into the maw of Mammon?

    You think “BP,” the corporate person, will “clean up the mess it made?” Or pay out of pocket (executive comp and shareholder moolah and profit and such? Maybe you could set up a gadget to follow this situation for the next couple of decades and write up what really happens.

    [JR: I don’t think Granny was being ironic.]