Jars of water mixed with oil that were collected from the Gulf Coast waters of Louisiana and Alabama are stacked in front of Gulf Coast residents as they attend a news conference on Capitol Hill June 16, 2010 in Washington, DC. About 90 residents from the Gulf Coast participated in a news conference to tell stories on how the oil spill has impacted their lives and to call on for a clean energy future. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Gulf Coast residents have sent a letter (full text below) to David Cameron, urging the UK to withdraw a statement of support recently submitted to a US court on behalf of oil giant BP.  In November 2012, the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) banned BP from participating in new federal contracts due to a “lack of business integrity”. Since that time, BP has been fighting the ban, and the UK government recently intervened, claiming the ban is “excessive”.

Residents of the Gulf Coast, where BP’s oil continues to wash ashore and where in the past few weeks 1.5 million pounds of “oily material” has been recovered from Elmers Island and Port Fourchon (Louisiana), say the ban is not excessive and cite various pieces of evidence in the letter.

Cherri Foytlin, Louisiana resident and mother of six, said:
BP’s oil still invades our shores and many of our peoples’ health continues to be gravely effected by the toxic effects of BP’s oil and dispersant mix.  Our fishermen are reporting historic and devastatingly low catches and a newly released study found dolphins exposed to BP’s crude to be some of the sickest ever studied.
December 22, 2013

To:    UK Prime Minister David Cameron

Cc:   First Secretary of State William Hague,

         Minister of State for Trade and Investment Lord Livingston of Parkhead

Re:   The UK’s statement of support for BP regarding the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s decision to bar BP from participation in contracts solicited by the U.S. government.

We – people living on the US Gulf Coast whose families, friends, and communities have been directly impacted by the 2010 BP oil disaster, and our allies – write to you today as international allies and friends of our nation.

Since the horrific day nearly four years ago when the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank into the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in an uncontrollable gusher that spewed more than 4.2 million barrels of oil over the course of 87 long days, the futures of many of our nations’ hardest working citizens have been tragically intertwined.

From that day in April 2010 forward, as we mourned for eleven of our fathers, brothers, uncles and sons whose lives were forever lost, BP’s lack of honesty has unnecessarily impaired our ability to recover ecologically and financially from their disaster. In spite of BP’s craftily worded public relations campaigns, some areas of the Gulf are just now being reopened for fishing, and areas that were previously reopened are reporting record low catches.  Our fishing industry is decimated and our ecosystem is forever damaged.  BP’s oil still clouds our waters and tar balls litter our shores. Families who for generations have sustained themselves on the warm, plentiful waters of our Gulf have suddenly found their livelihoods, their financial security and their futures impeded.

Additionally, BP’s shareholders, hardworking UK citizens with pension funds, and families who made financial investments based on information supplied by BP, have been similarly dismayed to learn that the important decisions they made regarding their financial futures – and their families’ security and stability – have been made based on what has been discovered to be nothing more than propaganda used by BP to purposely mislead and obfuscate.

Recently, a Texas court ruled that BP shareholders in the UK and EU are entitled to pursue compensation under US law, based in large part on evidence that BP acted in bad faith, publicly releasing a flow rate estimate which was much lower than documentation reveals they privately acknowledged.  As people who know the pain of having our financial security and our hopes for a comfortable future taken from us, we are deeply saddened to learn so many in the UK are similarly suffering due to BP’s culture of corporate lies and irresponsibility.

While we do not support every decision made by the US EPA with regards to this disaster, the decision to ban BP from engaging in federal contracts has been applied fairly and predictably and is not excessive. Global public trust in BP has been severely eroded – not by the US EPA’s decision, but by BP’s own conduct, including the following:

  • BP has consistently deceived the public concerning the true economic, ecological and human health effects of this disaster; including, but not limited to, the amount of oil released, the photoshopping of public images, and the denial of information regarding possible adverse health impacts to clean-up workers and residents.
  • BP has a decades-old history of similar safety violations in their global operations, and the use of corporate espionage and intimidation to conceal their activities. This includes multiple alleged human rights violations across the globe.
  • BP has allegedly committed acts of manipulation to the oil commodities markets in both of our countries.
  • BP plead guilty to illegal conduct leading to and following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, including 11 counts of felony manslaughter, one count of felony obstruction of US Congress and violations of both the Clean Water Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts. Through their guilty plea earlier this year, BP admitted to obstructing an inquiry by the US Congress, providing “false and misleading” information regarding flow rate and manipulating internal flow-rate estimates.
  • BP has not yet completed its restitution of federal fines and individual/business claims, as a final determination regarding the amount of negligence that BP is culpable for has yet to be determined by a US court of law.  And although they entered into a settlement for economic losses nearly two years ago, BP is now taking legal action to rescind that agreement.
  • Further, and contrary to BP’s expensive public relations campaign, their oil still invades our shores, many of our people’s health continues to be gravely effected by the toxic effects of BP’s oil and dispersant mix, wildlife mortality rates are at historic highs, while seafood catches are at historic lows.

We know BP’s culture of profit over safety and propaganda over truth is not representative of the UK’s many corporations who operate safely in the US every day.

We respectfully ask that you rescind your support of BP and their egregious corporate conduct. The US EPA’s decision to ban BP from participating in US government contracts is not only fair and just, but will send a strong message not only to BP, but to all corporations who operate in the UK, the US, and across the globe.

The citizens of the US Gulf Coast would also like to extend to you an open invitation to visit our shores and our people to see the damage our region’s families and environment have suffered and to see first-hand BP’s oil continues to harm our entire region.

Sincerely,

Alabama Coast United/Alabama
Atchafalaya Basinkeeper/Louisiana
Biloxi NAACP/Mississippi
Calhoun County Resource Watch/Texas
Galveston Baykeeper/Texas
The Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health
Gulf Restoration Network
Idle No More – Gulf Coast
Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper/Louisiana
Mobile Environmental Justice Action Network/Alabama
Operation Homecare, Inc./Alabama
Riki Ott, PhD/Ultimate Civics
San Antonio Baykeeper/Texas
Steps Coalition/Mississippi
The Mother’s Project – Gulf Coast
Union of Commercial Oystermen/Texas
Corexit: Deadly Dispersant in Oil Spill Cleanup, by Government Accountability Projects’s Report, outlining the devestating effects of BP’s oil and Corexit mix on human health,  http://www.whistleblower.org/program-areas/public-health/corexit  (April 2013)

BP’s ‘widespread human health crisis’, by Dahr Jamail, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2013/10/bp-widespread-human-health-crisis-2013102717831227732.html (October 2013)

Bird’s Eye View: More Pollution Incidents to Report with New Photos
, by Jonathan Henderson, https://healthygulf.org/201312132180/blog/general/birds-eye-view-more-pollution-incidents-to-report-with-new-photos (December, 2013)