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Oil Industry Meeting In New Orleans Urged To Increase Safety, Coastal Restoration Efforts

Eileen Fleming

The sight of Huey Long popping out of a seven-foot-tall cloth cake on Canal Street drew some curious looks and a few laughs. But the performance in front of the Ritz Hotel was aimed at a serious conference under way inside.

The skit included a rendition of Long’s signature song ‘Every Man a King.’ The depiction of the former governor, who famously battled Standard Oil, called attention to the 90th annual meeting inside the hotel of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association. The Gulf Restoration Network and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade are pushing for more industry investment for safety and maintenance, and support of coastal restoration.

Brigade spokeswoman Anna Hrybyk says a recent inspection by the Environment Protection Agency of the Exxon-Mobile refinery in Baton Rouge found problems.

“As we could see already from their own reports and from the outside you can see a great deal of corrosion but now we have concrete, hard proof in black and white and in color photographs that the corrosion throughout the plant is pervasive and extensive.”   

Association spokesman Jared Allen says the EPA review is only preliminary. And he says the Bucket Brigade is exaggerating the situation.

“The tactics that we see today, while very theatrical, also don’t fall into the category of raising awareness. It falls into the category of data manipulation and fear mongering.”    

Allen says the association supports the Restore Act. It will designate 80 percent of Clean Water Act fines from BP’s oil spill to repair damage to the Gulf of Mexico and the shrinking wetlands. The Gulf Restoration Network says the entire oil industry should contribute to repairing damage that drilling has done to the wetlands.  

Eileen is a news reporter and producer for WWNO. She researches, reports and produces the local daily news items. Eileen relocated to New Orleans in 2008 after working as a writer and producer with the Associated Press in Washington, D.C. for seven years.

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