Dr. Bonny Schumaker, founder of On Wings Of Care and retired from 22 years as a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said that a meeting was held yesterday, Thursday, May 30, 2013, in New Orleans with citizen stakeholders of the five Gulf Coast states. The focus was to move forward with the formation of a Gulf of Mexico Regional Citizens' Advisory Council (GoM RCAC.)
Citizen from from Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana attended. Texas colleagues were included by telephone.
The meeting's primary organizers were Drew Landry and Bonny Schumaker from Louisiana, Jackie Antalan from Alabama, and Rick Steiner from Alaska.
Gulf Coast citizens call for oil industry oversight council:
Oil industry declines invitation to meet
Three years after the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, citizen representatives from all five U.S. states on the Gulf of Mexico coast have decided to move forward with the establishment of a Gulf of Mexico Regional Citizens' Advisory Council (GoM RCAC). All principal Gulf of Mexico oil industry operators and associations were invited to join the citizen representatives at a planning meeting in New Orleans yesterday, and all declined.
Citing oil industry and government complacency as underlying causes of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, citizen stakeholders are demanding a greater role in ensuring the highest possible safety standards in oil and gas operations in the region. In 2010, the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling endorsed the establishment of a Gulf of Mexico RCAC, modeled after the highly successful RCAC formed in Prince William Sound, Alaska after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 (http://www.pwsrcac.org). Since then, despite repeated requests on behalf of Gulf citizens to mandate a GoM RCAC, U.S. Congress has taken no action.
"The GoM RCAC is not intended to chase RESTORE Act money or to address restoration from impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster," said Drew Landry, a native of Louisiana and one of the coordinators of this meeting. "Our goal is to learn from lessons of the past and prepare for the future."
The citizen meeting held in New Orleans yesterday was the first to discuss specifics of the RCAC for this region, as a new paradigm for responsible business. The May 4, 2013 invitation sent to Gulf Coast oil operators stated the purpose of the meeting as follows:
"To enhance collaboration among industry, government, and citizens that is truly effective for ensuring the safety and sustainability of the Gulf and its resources."
In his May 24 letter declining the invitation, ConocoPhillips VP William Bullock wrote that:
"We believe we have strong existing avenues to meet with stakeholders to understand their concerns and incorporate input into our business plans and actions, and participation in a GoM RCAC is not a fit for us at this time."
Gulf citizens at yesterday's meeting strongly disagreed with this assessment, and they have vowed to step up their own efforts to form a GoM RCAC.