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BP funds front group claiming oil spill jobs are better than ˜normal ones, storm will clean up oil

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Think Progress has the exclusive story on the shameless actions of this Big Oil front group:

Shortly after BP’s catastrophic oil spill in the gulf, the New York Times spoke to Quenton Dokken, the executive director of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, about the environmental impact. “The sky is not falling,” Dokken told the paper, adding “it isn’t the end of the Gulf of Mexico.” ProPublica dug into the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, and reported that the Times had failed to disclose that Dokken and his group are funded by a consortium of oil companies with business in the gulf, including companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon rig, Transocean and Anadarko. Today, the Times reported that the Foundation has been downplaying effects of the spill, possibly because of its funding from oil companies.

ThinkProgress has obtained more documents and evidence that the Gulf of Mexico Foundation has operated as a front for the oil companies involved in the spill. In addition to Transocean and Anadarko, this 2008 “Guardians of the Gulf” award ceremony hosted by the Foundation shows that BP is also a “CEO council member” of the nonprofit. View a screenshot here:

On May 20 and 21, about thirty days into the BP oil spill, the supposedly pro-”environmental conservation” Gulf of Mexico Foundation hosted a conference with oil industry lobbyists to promote further deep water drilling not only the in Gulf of Mexico, but in environmentally sensitive areas throughout the United States. The Foundation pretends it is just a do-gooder organization, sponsoring learning trips for Middle School students and other positive events. But clearly displaying the Foundation’s true goal of greenwashing the oil industry and suppressing the environmental impacts of oil spills, Dokken spoke at length downplaying the impact of the current BP oil disaster, minimizing the impact of ExxonValdez, boasting that the BP oil spill clean up jobs are better than “normal jobs,” and even “guaranteeing” that a hurricane will clean up any remnants of BP’s spill:

Dokken explaining why the “sky is not falling”: “Oil is not new in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s been entering the Gulf of Mexico for as long as the oil has existed.”

Dokken on how the spill has helped the local economy: “In Alabama, speaking on a sea grant program, the big problem he had was the spill response jobs were paying so much more than the normal jobs, everybody was leaving their normal jobs for spill response.”

Dokken on minimal impact of ExxonValdez: “And don’t forget, it was Governor Sarah Palin who championed the drill, baby, drill slogan, and that was after Exxon Valdez! So apparently, it didn’t scare Alaska away from the spill or the oil and gas industry, and you know I can, say after the smoke cleared and the headlines cleared or the headlines were cleared with another catastrophe, the true and financial impact was not the disaster that was predicted or portrayed.”

Dokken on how a hurricane will clean the oil: “I guarantee you there will be very little evidence that the Deepwater Horizon ever blew out, if its shut off by the time the hurricanes gets here. And it’s not magic, its just dilution. It mixes it up, spreads it out, breaks it down and it’s gone. We still shouldn’t be putting it in there, don’t get me wrong, but storms and nature is what keeps getting us out of these binds.”

Watch a compilation of clips from Murkowski and Dokken’s remarks:

In reality, the courts struck down ExxonValdez settlement payments, and victims still have not been compensated for their losses. In addition to the lives ruined and suicides caused by Exxon’s spill, the environment is poisoned and herring, the prime economic engine of the Prince William Sound, have not returned.

Current oil drilling trade association head Randall Luthi, who previously worked for Dick Cheney on the team that signed off on a vast expansion of dangerous drilling leases and who later served in the Minerals Management Service in the Bush administration, gave a presentation at the conference. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), a close friend of the oil industry who previously said wellhead blowouts are “impossible,” spoke at the Foundation conference, telling attendees “we should be careful and not pass reactionary legislation that hasn’t been fully thought through” in response to the spill. Notably, Murkowski blocked legislation to raise the liability cap for oil companies.

Extended transcript of Dokken’s remarks:

DOKKEN: As I said, my ‘sky is not falling’ comment was not well received in a lot of quarters, even a lot of science quarters. [...] Environmental impact of this, oil is not new in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s been entering the Gulf of Mexico for as long as the oil has existed. National Research Council reports estimate 1.1 million barrels of oil and gas enter the gulf through natural seapages. [...]

DOKKEN: It’ll be interesting to see what the average and medium incomes of the folks of Alaska were before the Exxon Valdez spill compared to data taken during the event and after the event. After all the Federal government dollars spent, during and after the spill, the response jobs funded, vessels chartered, and all the personal injury lawsuits settled to the advantage of the Alaskans, what was the true financial impact? I heard today, just came across my computer that a speaker from Alaska was here, er, not here, where am I? In Alabama, speaking on a sea grant program, the big problem he had was the spill response jobs were paying so much more than the normal jobs, everybody was leaving their normal jobs for spill response. And don’t forget, it was Governor Sarah Palin who championed the drill, baby, drill slogan, and that was after Exxon Valdez! So apparently, it didn’t scare Alaska away from the spill or the oil and gas industry, and you know I can, say after the smoke cleared and the headlines cleared or the headlines were cleared with another catastrophe, the true and financial impact was not the disaster that was predicted or portrayed. Alaska wants the oil and gas industry and I bet Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama do too. [...]

DOKKEN: I guarantee you there will be very little evidence that the Deepwater Horizon ever blew out, if its shut off by the time the hurricanes gets here. And it’s not magic, its just dilution. It mixes it up, spreads it out, breaks it down and it’s gone. We still shouldn’t be putting it in there, don’t get me wrong, but storms and nature is what keeps getting us out of these binds.

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5 Responses to BP funds front group claiming oil spill jobs are better than ˜normal ones, storm will clean up oil

  1. Tim L. says:

    This is entirely consistent with the oil industry’s long-time use of bogus front groups, just as they’ve done for so many years to trump up phony doubts about climate science. “Shameless” hardly begins to describe what’s really criminal fraud.

  2. mike roddy says:

    Executives from BP and the other oil companies have really topped themselves with this kind of action. They think we are all just a bunch of suckers, but what these oilmen have really done is brought shame on their own families.

    Much of the media actually went for the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, and thought Murkowski was a “swing” vote on climate. It’s bad enough that papers like the Post and the Times have become corrupt, but this lack of basic street smarts makes them much scarier.

  3. Philip says:

    OK. I’m beginning to understand. We shouldn’t just apologize. We should be thankful. Oil gushers don’t really hurt the environment, but they do raise the standard of living of those living in the affected regions.

  4. lessir says:

    To Clean up the Gulf Oil or not; that is the question

    It is hard to believe that on suspicion of not having fire extinguishers on board the Coast Guard shut down the Oil Barges. What prevented them from boarding and performing a visual inspection? They have the power and the law on their side and make such a blatant error in judgement??????

  5. msavage says:

    The spill is on going, blame is everywhere, and BP along with the US Government is pointing fingers and covering butts. NO ONE is doing anything about the Gulf residents who are cleaning up the toxic crude oil. How about demanding that BP supplies respirators for every employee who is on a cleaning crew? I will continue to post my message until the Gulf oil spill cleanup workers have respirators for protection.

    My letter to Gulf residents.
    http://www.urbanconservancy.org/letters/gulf-coast-cleanup-caution-urged

    The crude oil is toxic, and anyone who cleans the oily Gulf beaches needs to know the danger.
    http://www.lvrj.com/news/exxon-valdez-oil-risks-spur-warning-for-gulf-cleanup-crews-93258964.html

    My name is Merle Savage, a female general foreman during the Exxon Valdez oil spill (EVOS) beach cleanup in 1989. I am one of the 11,000+ cleanup workers, who is suffering from health issues from that toxic cleanup, without compensation from Exxon.

    Dr. Riki Ott visited me in 2007 to explain about the toxic spraying on the beaches, and informed me that Exxon’s medical records that surfaced in litigation by sick workers in 1994, had been sealed from the public, making it impossible to hold Exxon responsible for their actions. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5632208859935499100

    Beach crews breathed in crude oil that splashed off the rocks and into the air — the toxic exposure turned into chronic breathing conditions, central nervous system problems, neurological impairment, chronic respiratory disease, leukemia, lymphoma, brain tumors, liver damage, and blood disease. http://www.silenceinthesound.com/stories.shtml

    My web site is devoted to searching for EVOS cleanup workers who were exposed to the toxic spraying, and are suffering from the same illnesses that I have. Our summer employment turned into a death sentence for many — and a life of unending medical conditions for the rest of Exxon’s Collateral Damaged.