Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Newly Formed Observer Group to Monitor Today’s Oil Lease Auction

From our friends at Louisiana Bucket Brigade:
 Khaki Vests and Citizen Monitor Buttons Identify Oil Monitoring Group

Fifteen Citizen Monitors trained to engage oil industry and government representatives will be on hand at today’s oil lease auction. The goal of the newly formed Oil Monitoring Group is to remind those bidding that they have legal obligations to protect the Gulf of Mexico. “We are reminding them that the Gulf of Mexico belongs to all of us,” said Anne Rolfes, Founding Director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. “We want to make sure that both the oil industry – which has a terrible accident problem – and the government responsible for protecting us know that they are being watched.”

Today is the official launch of the newly formed Oil Monitoring Group, a coalition of civil society organizations and citizens trained to engage with oil industry representatives and remind them both of their legal obligations and the fact that the resources they are using are public ones. “Our mission is to prevent oil industry accidents,” said Kristen Evans, who is spearheading the group. The group will continue to monitor oil industry events after today’s auction.

Trained Citizen Monitors will initiate conversations with those in attendance today’s. The event is auctioning off 38 million acres. While other sales have happened since the BP Disaster, this is the first in the Central Planning Area of the Gulf of Mexico, which is off the coast of Louisiana. The Bureau of Ocean, Energy and Management is coordinating the auction.

Election observers, Human Rights Watch, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees are among the groups serving as a model for the newly formed group. “We realize that all too often civil society is not in the room when industry and government make decisions,” said Anne Rolfes, Founding Director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and participant in the group.

The monitors will wear khaki vests labeled Oil Monitoring Group on the back, with buttons on the front that say Citizen Monitor. They will provide brochures to those in attendance to remind them of the laws and that people are watching.

The Louisiana Bucket Brigade is an environmental health and justice organization supporting neighborhoods’ use of grassroots action to create informed, sustainable communities free from industrial pollution.

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