Saturday, September 4, 2010

"Carnivoil" Comes to RVA

As the temperature soared into the upper 90’s Tuesday afternoon, Clear Energy Works a large coalition of environmental and other green groups brought their three-week anti-oil industry “CarnivOIL” tour to Richmond’s Monroe Park to draw attention to what it calls “The Greatest Addiction on Earth.” J.R. Tolbert of the Sierra Club explained the importance of bringing environmental issues out into the open. He said:

“So the ’Clean Energy Works’ is a coalition of environmental labor religious groups. So here in Virginia we have, we have four or five different environmental groups that, that are working together, along with members of the Labor community and the Virginia Earthly Power and Light, actually, to ensure that we protect clean air and try to bring more clean energy and more clean energy jobs to Virginia.”

The event is highlighting ‘Big Oil’s” stranglehold on Washington. It feature an outdoor midway style carnival, complete with games, concessions and some ‘Big Oil’ style celebrating. Sarah Driscoll of Environment Virginia said:

“So step right up! See how much oil you can spill with our strong-man hammer or sit back and enjoy a chocolate covered tar-ball.”

Games included knocking down oil barrels rather than the traditional milk bottles. There was also a boxing match between soon-to-be former BP CEO Tony Hayward and a Giant lobster.

Richmond residents and Virginia Commonwealth University students passing through Monroe park were entertained by the mock carnival. Students Andrew Thoon and Will Moran seem to enjoy there afternoon’s amusement…

“We were literally walking from lunch we thought this looked like a lot of fun. So we tried to participate.”
“Because apparently it’s for the environment of Virginia and it just seems like a lot of fun. We’re going to try to do the boxing thing next.”

When asked about the extreme production put on for such a cause the students said:

“I think the bizarre way of doing it is probably the best way. It gets people to notice things that they probably didn’t notice before.”
“I think it’s a fun way, cause everyone’s just sort of having fun and then the whole boxing thing, it’s BP verses the Lobster.”

Kimberly Balinger a volunteer for the coalition was enthusiastic about getting the message out in a unique way. She said:

“As you can stand on the street as long as you want and kind of hand out fliers and small print and people don’t always look at it. So I think when you see something this big you kind of think , you know, ’why are they here?’ and ’ why are they doing this?’

She said the event seemed to be successful.

“It just seems like we have a good turnout and I’m glad people are stopping and coming by and seeing what we have to say.”

The campaign is designed to spur public resentment of the oil industries influence in politics. The initial show ‘CarnivOIL’ was staged one July morning at Washington’s Union Station, the Metro stop for many congressional staff.

The Event comes as the oil industry’s main trade association is starting a series of “citizen rallies” in September to convince the public that scaling back tax incentives for the industry would harm the economy and job growth.

J.R. Tolbert of the Sierra Club has received a growing support among the citizens but not so much from our Senators. He said:

“Well we have actually found a ton of support over the course of the last eighteen months to two years, that we’ve been running this campaign from the people of Virginia. Unfortunately our elected officials are not listening as much to the people who put them in office as they are, writing, the people who write the checks.”
“We have some serious concerns over the direction that Senators Webb and Senators Warner have taken in their failure to bring clean energy to the floor this year in the Senate.”
“So we’re continuing to push to make sure that that people of Virginia know what happened back in July , and the fact the Oil company’s and these people who are putting in millions of millions of dollars to influence campaigns rather than to stand up for the best interest of Virginians. We want to make sure that people of Virginia know about that.”
“And when they hear that message they tend to come around and they tend to say ‘You know what?’ ‘We do need to take action!’”
“ Oil companies have way to much in power in the halls of Congress, and somebody needs to stand up and let people know about it.”

At twelve o’clock a news conference was held at the CarnivOil. Sarah Driscoll of Environment Virginia clarified the point of the event.

“Environment Virginia is a statewide citizen based environmental advocacy organization. We’re working to restore the Chesapeake Bay, preserve the Shenandoah and repower the state with clean renewable energy.”
“We’re here today to present to you ’CarnivOIL’ ‘The Biggest Mess on Earth!’
“ After convincing the U.S. Senate to do nothing in response to the largest oil spill in decades and launching new attacks on clean air and car emission standards. The Oil Industry and their allies have a lot to celebrate.”
“So step right up! See how much oil you can spill with our strong-man hammer or sit back and enjoy a chocolate covered tar-ball.”
“This has been a spectacular year for the oil industry and global warming polluters. Demonstrating that when it comes to pollution and our dependence on oil, the Big Oil ’CarnivOIL’ continues in Washington.”
“Our ‘CarnivOIL’ maybe all fun and games, but we want to highlight the very real and detrimental effects of Americas addiction to oil, which lead to natural disasters, cost our country one billion dollars everyday and prevents us from creating millions of jobs through clean American energy.”

J.R. Tolbert said the issues were too big to ignore. Legislation needed to come quickly. He said:

“We’re opposed to that action for many many reasons. Time is here, the time is now for us to tackle comprehensive climate and energy legislation. The time is now for us to tackle global warming and to deal with the issues that face us.”
“We have rising seas in the Chesapeake Bay, we have, we have invasive species that threaten Shenandoah Valley. We have more instances of drought than we have before, which threatens Virginia’s number one industry, agriculture.”
“The time is now for us to take action”

He was not shy about his position with Virginia Senators…

“It’s really simple, it’s really clear Senator Warner and Senator Webb, you can either stand with the people of Virginia or you can stand with the Big Oil Companies.”

‘CarnivOil’ came prepared with alternative ideas to ween our addiction to oil. Jes Sprouse of Algal Farms- a bio-fuel car company- knows they have obstacles to make all of this work. He said:
“Looking at the replenishable resources to be able to create similar fuels that, what we have now and think that’s been one of the biggest leaps right now, and in Bio-mass and any of the other Bio-fuels that’s making them competitive and comparable to the fuels we have now powering our machine.”

After all was said and done Campus Organizer Kimberly Balinger said she was doing this for a bigger.

“ I just really care about the issues, I really care about the environment and making sure that , you know, it’s clean and safe for the future generations”

/Rick Swing

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