Academy Award-winning actress and New Orleans resident Sandra Bullock has severed her involvement in a campaign to call attention to the BP spill, after learning from ThinkProgress that it was a greenwashing effort by the oil industry. Bullock is prominently featured in the Restore the Gulf campaign, run by Women of the Storm and sponsored by America’s Wetland Foundation.
In an online video with other major celebrities, Bullock called for American people to “speak up” and “sign the petition” for Congress and President Obama at the campaign website, which demands that “a plan to restore America’s Gulf be fully funded and implemented for me and future generations.” The YouTube video makes her the face of the campaign:
Unbeknownst to Bullock, America’s Wetland Foundation is a front group established by Shell Oil in 2002 and funded by the American Petroleum Institute, BP, and a host of other oil companies. Women of the Storm was established after Hurricane Katrina by Anne Milling, the wife of America’s Wetland chairman R. King Milling, who is part of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R-LA) team to lift the offshore drilling moratorium. This greenwashing campaign, first uncovered by DeSmogBlog.com’s Brendan Demelle, subtly includes mentions of “safe domestic energy” and oil industry factoids, while implying that American taxpayers, not the unmentioned oil industry, should pay for restoring the region BP has poisoned.
Sandra Bullock’s publicist tells ThinkProgress the actress was never informed of the campaign’s big oil ties. In a statement issued to ThinkProgress, Bullock’s representatives indicated they would immediately ask “for her participation in the PSA be removed until the facts can be determined”:
Ms. Bullock was originally contacted through her attorney to be a part of the PSA in order to promote awareness of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. At no time was she made aware that any organization, oil company or otherwise had influence over Women of the Storm or its message. We have immediately asked for her participation in the PSA be removed until the facts can be determined. Her commitment to the Gulf region has been apparent for many years and she will continue to pursue opportunities that will bring awareness and support to the plight of the Gulf region.
With its deep pockets, BP’s focus should be on supplying necessary funds to restore the Gulf region, not secretly supporting greenwashing campaigns to redirect blame. The people of the Gulf of Mexico don’t need the toxic influence of the oil industry, and the American people don’t need its toxic pollution.
Bullock’s representative said that they had learned about this initially from the Huffington Post and had already asked to be removed from the campaign by the time ThinkProgress had contacted them.
,America’s Wetland Foundation officials tell the Huffington Post the funding from the oil and gas industry — like founder Shell, primary “sustainability” sponsor Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, Citgo, British Gas, Spectra, Hornbeck, the American Petroleum Institute, and BP — “were for purely scientific or ecological functions.”
Sidney Coffee, senior adviser for America’s Wetland, said: “We want BP to pay every damn penny that they should be paying and more.”
Nowhere in the “Restore the Gulf” campaign is BP ever mentioned.