BP Gulf Oil Disaster—NAACP Investigation DAY VI—Mobile, Alabama

The NAACP Mobile Branch Leadership (Robert Walker, Branch President, as well as Tommy Green and Rick Henderson) treated me to a thorough tour and enlightening analysis/commentary on the BP Oil Disaster and the impact so far, as well as what it will potentially mean for coastal Alabama. They took me to Dauphin Island, a popular tourist destination, as well as Bayou La Batre which is home to marshlands where lots of fishing occurs.

At Dauphin Island we drove to one end where the beach area was closed and military personnel were busily setting out boom and erecting berm (a term I had never heard before and now hear daily!) We asked a wildlife and fisheries person who was there seemingly guarding a gate to ensure there were no casual visitors. When asked about the potential for oil coming ashore, she stridently stated that the oil was “far away, at least 25 miles out”. This struck me as grimly humorous as we watched the coast guard folks behind her frantically laying out protective infrastructure. Of course, two days later, tar balls appeared on Dauphin Island. Our team talked about the spin conspiracy which is determined to put things in its most positive light, no matter what the reality is of what’s occurring.

We talked a bit about the politics of oil and of this disaster. Rick, with a healthy sense of irony, stated the contradictions in some positions on the issue of the clash between de-regulation and maintaining safety standards, “They want small government when they don’t need anything. When you don’t want regulation and you want free enterprise and you want capitalism to run rampant, ie “drill baby drill”, this is what happens!”  The team also spoke about what they considered to be unrealistic expectations of President Obama. Again with his gift for painting a picture to characterize a situation, Mr. Henderson stated, “They want Obama to put on a swimsuit and go down there and cut it off himself.”

Robert Walker, lifelong resident of Mobile, Alabama speculated on how the oil spill will affect the beaches of Mobile Bay and the people who make their living from industries dependent on those beaches.

In Bayou Le Batre, Alabama, Rick shows the waterways and the booms that have been laid in the attempt to mitigate. He talks about the marshlands of the area and how the oil will impact sea life as well as the livelihoods of persons in the region.

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