Wednesday, August 20, 2008


"There is solid evidence that forty to sixty percent of Louisiana's coastal wetlands loss can be traced to oil and gas activities," says Aaron Viles, Campaign Director for the Gulf Restoration Network (GRN). "It is only fair that companies like Shell pay for the cost of the damage they have caused."

With that in mind activists (including the famous "Mr. Bill") presented the Shell Oil Company a bill for $362 million during a demonstration yesterday in New Orleans. According to the GRN, Mr. Bill working with a coalition that included Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, Louisiana Bucket Brigade,, the Sierra Club, United Houma Nation, the Alliance for Affordable Energy and of course, Walter Williams, New Orleans Filmmaker, GRN "fired a shot across Shell's bow that even the massive energy corporation can't ignore." The protesters say there is solid evidence that forty to sixty percent of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands loss can be traced to oil and gas activities, and it is only fair that companies like Shell pay for the cost of the damage they have caused.

A press release from those involved in the action stated:

While Shell's fortunes continue to rise, coastal Louisiana's marshes are disappearing at an astounding rate and thus leaving the whole region more vulnerable to future hurricanes. According to records from the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, Shell Oil has dredged 8.8 million cubic yards of pipeline since 1983. These activities alone have caused the loss of 22,624 acres of wetlands in the last 25 years.

Mr. Bill arrived late (see picture), in a stretch limo that eased up to a stop at One Shell Square, in front of the towering office headquarters of Shell Oil. Flanked by bodyguards and supermodels, he made his way up the street, cameras flashing all around him. He carried with him the bill to be delivered to Shell.

Some took exception to Bill and his posse.

OpEd News reports:

Grumbling was heard from the greens that it was totally inappropriate to be protesting BIG OIL and have Mr. Bill arrive in a gas-guzzling stretch limo. Someone named Lee said that one would expect the Mr. Bill of old to come parachuting out of the sky, and not take such a blatant Hollywood approach.

A drenched feminist named Cathy was incensed that Mr. Bill would lower himself and court the bimbo factor in the form of super models. “Where have the protest tactics of the sixties gone,” she wailed.

Mr. Bill sensed the discontent and refocused attention on his wetlands message. Grasping an “overdue” bill for $361,984,000 in his chubby, clubby white fingers, the Gumby-textured man attacked Shell.

“This does not include their abuses from the previous decades, nor the price tag for the damage, which would not have occurred during Katrina, if our natural hurricane defense, the wetlands, had not been decimated by the oil industry,” Mr. Bill said.

“OH NO, Fix the coast you broke, Shell Oil,” Mr. Bill cried, as he sauntered down Poydras, his arms draped low around the waist of a super model.

Putting aside the controversy surrounding Mr. Bill for a minute, GRN says it believes the current situation in southern Louisiana is relevant to the national debate around expanding offshore drilling on the Atlantic and Pacific Coast. Increased off-shore drilling, GRN believes, would be detrimental to coastal communities, which is clear in the case of Louisiana. The group points out that decades of oil and gas activity along the coast have left the Mississippi River’s once mighty delta a pale comparison of its former glory

The following story is from the Times Picayune.

Protesters call for Shell to pay La. $362 million
Mark Schleifstein

Carrying signs in a driving rainstorm demanding that Shell Oil Co. "fix the coast you broke," about 25 environmental activists on Tuesday attempted to deliver a bill for $362 million to the corporation's New Orleans headquarters.

At a news conference inside the offices of the Gulf Restoration Network, the activists called for Shell to pay the money to the state's Coastal Protection and Restoration Trust Fund, where it could be added to other offshore drilling revenue to help rebuild wetlands and build levees.

A Shell spokeswoman defended the company's actions on behalf of coastal restoration, both as the "world sponsor" of the America's WETLAND campaign and through its share of offshore oil revenues paid to the federal government that is passed on to Louisiana.

"Shell believes the best solution to help with coastal preservation and assist the states and community that support oil and gas production is Outer Continental Shelf federal revenue sharing," Shell spokeswoman Darci Sinclair said.

The 2006 Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, which Shell supported, will provide 37.5 percent of royalty revenue from new leases in federal waters to four Gulf Coast states, including Louisiana.

The $362 million bill was based on a search of state records that indicated Shell has dredged 22,000 acres of wetlands for placement or maintenance of pipeline canals and other oil and gas production facilities since 1983. Such dredging has contributed to erosion of the coast, leaving the region more vulnerable to hurricanes.

"It's in their own self-interest to do this," said filmmaker Walter Williams, the creator of the Mr. Bill clay character. "These projects will protect their oil and gas infrastructure, and without that protection, who knows what their long-term liability will be."

Brenda Dardar-Robichaux, principal chief of the United Houma Nations, said it's long past time for oil companies like Shell to recompense her people for the damage done to both storm protection and fisheries.

Others participating in the demonstration were Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and Mike Lane, publisher of, a recreational fishing Web site.

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