BP’s newest PR salvo touting its Gulf cleanup hit a nerve with many residents still struggling to get their lives back (one ad captured this BP beach protest in the background). The oil behemoth’s slickly produced pleas for Americans to “come on down” to the Gulf where the weather is warm, the food is sublime and the beaches are sparkling clean — at least in the commercials — has long stuck in the craw of people whose shrimp boxes are bare and whose beaches and bayous are sometimes littered with sticky tar balls and bloated dolphins.
But what if BP took a different tack this coming year? What if the oil giant — which scooped up profits worth nearly $5 billion last quarter and is planning to drill anew in the deepwater Gulf — decided to give a voice to those enduring the worst fishing season in memory? What if BP decided to tell the stories of families suffering from debilitating health problems they blame on the crude and chemical dispersants, oil that still mysteriously bubbles up near BP’s Macondo well 40 miles offshore?
If such a miracle were to take place, I have a great list of characters and stories for BP to choose from. They are all hard working people who care about their health and environment; many are salt-of-the earth folks who before the BP disaster rarely complained about the oil industry. But the oil spill changed that. And their stories have largely been ignored by the media and those in the halls of Congress, not to mention oil industry bosses in country club lounges. (Check out NRDC’s film Stories from the Gulf that aired on the Discovery Channel earlier this year).
(h/t: the beautiful MJB)