ShellGuilty campaign demands Shell clean up in Louisiana and Nigeria

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
24th April 2009

NEW ORLEANS—Amplifying demands by environmentalists in Louisiana that Shell clean up the coast, campaigners have launched www.ShellJazzFest.com, a mock version of the official Jazz Fest website that tells the truth about Shell’s human rights and environmental record.

In addition to launching the website, the campaigners are distributing thousands of flyers at Jazz Fest and running online ads keyed to searches for Jazz Fest. Additional activities will be announced next week.

The Louisiana-centered outreach is the first initiative of a much broader international campaign, which will be formally launched next week. It is coordinated by human rights and environmental groups in Europe, Africa, and North America.

“In New Orleans, Shell is sponsoring Jazz Fest but in Nigeria, Shell has literally sponsored murder and torture,” said Han Shan, ShellGuilty Coordinator for Oil Change International. “A few weeks after Jazz Fest, Shell will stand trial in federal court in New York for complicity in serious human rights abuses in Nigeria.”

“From the Niger Delta to the Mississippi Delta, Shell’s legacy of destruction belies its professed concern for the environment and local communities where it operates,” said Anne Rolfes, Founding Director of the Louisiana Busket Brigade and a long-time organizer for accountability from Shell. “Here in Louisiana, Shell’s refineries pollute local communities and cause massive health problems.”

In addition to causing pollution, coastal scientists estimate that oil companies have caused 40 to 60 percent of the coastal land loss Louisiana is experiencing. The current estimate to restore the Louisiana coast and secure local communities is $50 billion. In Nigeria, where Shell has been operating for over fifty years, Shell has come under fire for gas flaring, a practice which poisons and pollutes the local environment, while also contributing significantly to global warming, which threatens low-lying area such as the Louisiana coast with rising sea levels. Gas flaring in Nigeria emits more greenhouse gases than all other sources in sub-Saharan Africa combined.

Shell is due to stand trial in federal court on charges that it conspired with the Nigerian military government to bring about the execution of acclaimed writer and environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other community leaders who opposed Shell’s operations. In addition, Shell faces charges of requesting, financing, and assisting Nigerian soldiers in attacks that led to murder and torture of people throughout the Ogoni region of the Niger Delta. The global coalition, which will be headquartered at www.ShellGuilty.com (the site will go live Monday) will honor the memory of Saro-Wiwa and demand that Shell stop gas flaring in Nigeria.

“This is a global grassroots effort,” said Nick Berning of Friends of the Earth. “People can demand justice from Shell by joining our campaign at www.ShellGuilty.com.”

Notes:

* The New Orleans-based Gulf Restoration Network is calling for Shell to help pay for the massive cost of fixing Louisiana’s coast and securing local communities. Coastal scientists estimate that oil companies have caused 40-60% of the coastal land loss Louisiana is experiencing. According to the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Coastal Management Division, Shell has dredged 8.8 million cubic yards of pipelines just since 1983, which has caused a loss of over 22,000 acres of wetlands in that time. The Gulf Restoration Network estimates that, conservatively federal programs for wetlands remediation would require Shell to pay more than $350 million dollars for the company’s actions since 1983 alone. Visit www.healthygulf.org for more information.

CONTACT:
Nick Berning, Friends of the Earth, 202-222-0748, [email protected]
Anne Rolfes, Shell Accountability Campaign, 504-452-4909, [email protected]
Han Shan, Oil Change International, 917-418-4133, [email protected]

* Ken Saro-Wiwa was a writer and leading activist demanding rights for Nigeria’s Ogoni people, including an end to Shell’s gas flaring in the Ogoni region. He was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 1995. As a result of his activism, Saro-Wiwa was detained, imprisoned and subject to torture throughout the 1990s. On November 10 1995, Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni community leaders were executed by the Nigerian military government after a special military tribunal at which Shell allegedly bribed witnesses to give false testimony against him.

* Substantial evidence indicates that Shell collaborated with the Nigerian military government in a brutal campaign to suppress a popular nonviolent movement for human rights and environmental justice in the Ogoni region of the Niger Delta. The campaign of repression culminated in the execution of Saro-Wiwa and his colleagues. Shell may have to face this evidence in a US Federal District Court in New York City in a trial that is set to begin soon. For more information on the case, visit www.WiwavShell.org.

* Gas flares are toxic fires that burn off the natural gas released when oil is extracted from the ground. In addition to being wasteful, these fires are toxic and harmful to human health, which is why Shell would never dream of large-scale gas flaring in a wealthy country such as the United States. But because such flaring is cheap when environmental and human costs are not taken into consideration, Shell and other oil companies have burned gas flares continuously for decades in countries like Nigeria.

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