GULF COAST RESIDENTS DENIED ACCESS TO BP SHAREHOLDER MEETING
by Renee Blanchard Save Our Gulf Coordinator Waterkeeper Alliance
Just before 6am CST I received a text message from Tracy Kuhns, the Louisiana Bayoukeeper. She and Mike, her husband, along with three other Gulf coast residents traveled to London this week to attend the BP shareholder meeting. The text message stated, "we were denied access to shareholder meeting. We didn't get rowdy we weren't given a reason."
Tracy and Mike live in Barataria Bay, Louisiana. They run a small family fishing business together, raised 6 kids and have 17 grandchildren. They are the frontlines of the BP oil disaster. They have lived for the past year with oil washing up into the canal behind their house, watching their fellow fishermen doused with dispersant while out in the water, participating in the endlessly frustrating Fineberg claims process, and playing by the rules that our government has set up to restore our coast through the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force.
On April 20, 2010, 11 men were killed, 250 million gallons of oil was discharged and 1.8 million gallons of toxic dispersants was released in the environment. BP, Transocean, and Halliburton through a series of bad decisions and lax regulatory and government enforcement, created the largest environmental disaster our country has ever seen.
Tracy, Mike, and Byron (LA Oyster Association President) were all denied access to the BP shareholder meeting. They were given proxies by sympathetic shareholders so that they could confront the executives who made the decisions that led to the oil disaster that has upturned their lives.
Why is BP so scared of Tracy, Mike and Byron?
BP is spending millions on their PR machine. Every day in our local papers there is an ad from BP saying that they are making our communities whole again. TV and radio ads run in cities across the country explaining that the oil is gone, the beaches are clean, and the seafood is safe. But Tracy and Mike know differently. They are still seeing the oil. They are still seeing the health impacts of the toxic cocktail of crude oil and dispersants on their family members and friends.
Tracy and Mike hold the truth of the BP oil disaster, the truth for which BP is unwilling to take full responsibility. That's why BP is so scared.