Today marks the 5th commemoration of the start of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, one of the largest disasters of its kind. We at Oil Change International stand with Gulf South Rising and all those standing up and resisting the fossil fuel industry in the Gulf South, where the brunt of the BP oil disaster is still being felt to this day.

Just last week, activists in Houston staged a sit-in at the BP headquarters there, demanding that BP pay what it actually owes for the disaster, and not shirk its responsibilities. They went out on their fishing boats to show first-hand to any who wished to see how devastating the disaster has been on local fisherfolk. This morning, dozens of Gulf Coast residents led a funeral procession to the BP Headquarters, marking the 5 Year Commemoration as well. And more activities are planned in New Orleans and all along the coast as the region continues rise up in resistance.

Image courtesy Antonia Juhasz
Image courtesy Antonia Juhasz

Statements from community members of the Gulf South tell the story.

“South Louisiana’s economy is tied to oil. We’re dependent on fossil fuels now but we’re working to move away from that. We don’t want to destroy the environment or lose the communities that live here. Our environment is precious and so are human lives. If we don’t strive to do better, we will annihilate ourselves. If we don’t take care of mother, she can’t take care of us. Change starts with us,” said Principal Thomas Dardar of the United Houma Nation.

“The economy of this nation is tied to the ecology of the Gulf South. It’s time for everyone to see past the millions of dollars that BP has spent on marketing and listen to the frontline fishing, shrimping and indigenous communities about the reality of what’s happening and the solutions for equitable recovery. Fighting for the land and people of South Louisiana is protecting the economy of the United States,” said Colette Pichon Battle of Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy.

You can learn more about — and support — the important work of Gulf South Rising here.

As we mark this day, Oil Change International’s Executive Director, Steve Kretzmann released the following statement on behalf of all of us at Oil Change International and in solidarity with activists in the Gulf South:

“An important lesson that we must accept to ensure a catastrophe like BP’s deepwater horizon never happens again is the lesson that we must stop exploring, expanding and exploiting new fossil fuel reserves.

The impacts of the disaster are still being felt and will continue to be felt for decades to come. But an equally important lesson we’ve learned is that activism in the Gulf South is strong and while the seas are rising, so are they. Impacted communities and people on the front lines are leading the charge to recover, rebuild, and resist to ensure that nothing like this happens again.

We already have access to far more carbon than we can afford to burn in order to keep the climate safe. The last thing we should be doing is putting lives, livelihoods, economies, and ecosystems on the front lines of these inevitable disasters in the name of unburnable carbon.

The Obama administration has said it is committed to climate and environmental protection. These are empty promises until high risk, high carbon fossil fuel projects like deep water and like arctic offshore drilling are stopped once and for all, and those communities impacted already are provided the support they deserve.”

The Seas Are Rising and So Are We.