“BP Hasn’t Made People Whole”

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Read about the top 10 reasons to still be pissed off about the BP spill here.

The Gulf oil disaster largely disappeared from the headlines last August, after the well was finally capped and the federal government declared that most of the oil was “gone.”

For Gulf coast residents, though, the nightmare was just beginning. A year later, business hasn’t come back for many in fishing and tourism, and the compensation check from BP still hasn’t arrived. In the areas closest to the shores, people are reporting health problems consistent with exposure to chemicals. Dead turtles, dolphins and fish are still washing ashore. So are tar balls. So while most of the country has moved on, a number of Gulf coast residents have been in DC over the past week to tell decisionmakers one thing: It’s not over.

Mother Jones talked to with several Gulf residents who have become advocates for their communities in the wake of the spill.

Kindra Arnesen, 33, of Buras, Louisiana

Arnesen and her husband, David, were just putting the finishing touches on the house they rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina when the Deepwater Horizon exploded. The disaster made an accidental activist out of this fisherman’s wife and restaurant owner.

“We’re not used to having to come up here and ask all these agencies in DC to do what our tax dollars pay them to do. I own two homes, a restaurant, and four boats. I’ve put that back together in the last five years. I don’t owe no money on anything. We work really, really hard for what we do and what we get, and then it is almost like we’re painted by our own politicians through their actions, or lack thereof, as people that don’t need to exist, like we are expendable.”

To read my interview with Arnesen, click here.

Cherri Foytlin, 38, of Rayne, Louisiana

Foytlin, a reporter, wife of an oilfield worker, and mother of six, walked 1,243 miles from New Orleans to Washington, DC, to demand a better future for Gulf residents.

“I would love for my husband to be making solar panels, but all the solar panels are being made in China. One of the things I’m totally advocating is bringing clean energy jobs here, and then providing subsidies so our oil workers get those jobs first.”

“We are not divided. It’s them that’s dividing us up, and making us feel like we’re against this other group, that the oil workers are against the green movement and the green movement are against the oil workers. They are not—they are against the oil companies. That’s a big difference. The oil companies don’t care about the oil workers.”

To read my interview with Foytlin, click here.

Ryan Lambert, 53, of Buras, Louisiana

Lambert rebuilt his charter boat company, Cajun Fishing Adventures, after it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. But a year after the oil disaster began, business still hasn’t come back.

“BP hasn’t made people whole. I’m not saying I’m so much worried about me, because financially, I’m okay. I’m the oldest one in the business, just about. But the youngest guys are starving to death. People are losing their homes, losing their boats and there’s BP advertising that they’re spending millions of dollars. They’re not. They’re not making anyone whole.”

To read my interview with Lambert, click here.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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