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Category Archives: oil

It’s not very often that I like rap songs with a green message.  Usually they’re (in my opinion) really cheesy.  But Talib Kweli and Hi Tek have captured my frustrations about the oil industry in one freakin’ awesome song.  It’s called Ballad of Black Gold and it’s a breath of fresh air from the usually vapid music I hear on the radio. Talib provides a rare voice in hip hop, puting politicians supporting the oil industry on blast.

In an interview on Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner, Talib said inspiration for the song came from a trip to oil-rich and oil-burdened Nigeria.  Over the past 40 years the Nigerian government has estimated 7,000 spills… 1,000 of which belong to Shell. BV Black Spin’s Laura Adibe wrote a really great article on this subject.


You have to check this song out and watch the interview.  Let us know what you guys think!

Photo by jcbehm

Large hispanic populations moved to New Orleans after Katrina to fill out the reconstruction jobs.  Now a new catastrophe is employing recent immigrants. The number of hispanic workers (many of whom aren’t here legally) working clean-up jobs has caght the eye of Louisiana Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  “It’s like, ‘round everybody up and leave the oil on the beach,’” said Darlene Kattan, Director of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana. “In a catastrophic situation like this, I think we should be more well-reasoned.”

(Image by Annie Correal)

The BP oil disaster has caused so much distress around the Gulf. A lot of people want to help. But before heading towards the region to help, there are a few things you should know. You could be exposing yourself to potential risks. Wilma Subra is a microbiologist and a chemist. She’s consulted for the Environmental Protection Agency and she warns helpers could face health hazards.

SUBRA: Well if people are considering coming down and volunteering to help out in these communities or to help actually help out clean up a beach or wetland they have to realize that they must receive appropriate Hazmat training so they know the precautions they need to take

PAYNE: Wilma Subra works with the Louisiana Environmental Action Network. They supply safety equipment to crews who are working to clean and contain the leak.

SUBRA: They must be provided with protective gear; respirators, goggles, protective clothing and gloves. If they are not, they will be severely impacted on the short term having acute impacts and the potential to have very long chronic health impacts.

PAYNE: BP spokesman Graham McEwen says BP is “unaware of any health complaints among cleanup workers.” Wilma Subra disagrees. She says as someone who works on chemical messes, she knows the symptoms of exposure to toxic substances, and she’s seeing them here.

SUBRA: Its causing headaches, nausea, respiratory problems, burning eyes, sore throat and for people who have asthma its causing asthma attacks.

PAYNE: Workers who are close to the oil and dispersants aren’t the only ones at risk. Subra says that toxic vapors have reached as far away as New Orleans. She says parts of crude oil belong to a family of chemicals know as volatile organics. And it’s easy for these chemicals to be carried long distances by the wind.

SUBRA: Volatile organics are chemicals that evaporate easily, sort-of like when you were young and had a bottle of finger nail polish remover and you opened it up and your mom came running in there and said be careful, I know you opened it, because I can smell It all over the house. They give off the vapors. And benzene is one of those volatile organics and its known to cause cancer in humans.

PAYNE: Environmental chemist, Wilma Subra. If you are looking to volunteer with clean up efforts, make sure to protect yourself. Check out the list of places where you can help at For Planet Harmony, I’m Ebony Payne.

For more volunteer information in each gulf coast state check below:

• Volunteer Louisiana – 800.755.5175

• Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service

• Volunteer Florida

• 211 Connects Alabama – 866.869.4921

(Image Courtesey of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice)

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With the Gulf spill as backdrop, new Senate legislation sets out to keep billions of dollars in subsidies from flowing to the oil industry. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) says his new bill would close oil-friendly corporate tax loopholes that add up to $20 billion in ten years. That’s almost as ambitious as what President Barack Obama laid out in his proposed budget for 2011, but is just a fraction (perhaps a tenth) of what taxpayers could save if the government stopped all subsidies, says Doug Koplow of Earth Track, a research group that tracks energy subsidies.

"If those numbers are correct," Koplow said, "that means they’re already doing the political calculations to get supporters of the oil industry on board." And no doubt political calculations will be necessary to pass an anti-oil bill in this Congress. Sen. Menendez knows– his other bill to raise the $65 million liability cap for oil companies has been blocked from twice so far by Senate Republicans, most recently by Senator Inhofe (R-OK), who said he’s concerned about the consequences for small, independent oil companies. Menendez made this appeal to his fellow Senators in a press release: "The flow of revenues to oil companies is like the gusher at the bottom of the Gullf of Mexico: heavy and constant…Unlike the geyser in the Gulf we can shut down these loopholes quickly and permanently when we pass this legislation."

The oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico is now leaking 210,000 barrels of oil a day destroying not only marine life but also the livelihoods of Louisiana fisherman.  Once the oil slick contaminates shrimp beds, the shrimp season which is only beginning, will be over.  Clean up efforts may last years and it is uncertain when fishermen will be able to continue fishing.  Roger Halphen, a local teacher, told the Associated Press "There is a lot of bitterness.  Most of these people are second, third, fourth generation fisherman and now they are looking at the end of their industry."

Many of these fisherman are paying off boat loans costing up to tens of thousands of dollars.  In desperate need of work, hundreds of fisherman have signed up to be a part of the clean up effort. 
Read more about Louisiana fishermen.