Presbyterians response to the Deep Water Horizon Oil disaster

At the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), on Thursday evening, 7/8/10

On a voice vote (which sounded unanimous to those of us following the Assembly by streaming video) the Assembly adopted the response to the BP oil disaster which was recommended by a unanimous vote of the Committee on Social Justice Issues the following text:

In response to the Deep Water Horizon Oil disaster, the Assembly Committee on Social Justice Issues—B:The Exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the World respectfully recommends that the 219th General Assembly (2010) take the following actions:

1.   Direct the Moderator of the 219th General Assembly (2010) to send condolences to each of the families of the workers who lost their lives from the Deep Water Horizon oil rig explosion.

2.   Direct the General Assembly Mission Council to work in partnership with local impacted communities,  and to initiate and support an ecumenical, long-term response to the Deep Water Horizon oil disaster. This response may include

a.         developing sustainable subsistence food supplies;

b.         developing a peer-to-peer counseling program;

c.         equipping community members with the knowledge and technology to monitor water, air, and soil quality and water currents;

d.         cross-country monitoring of the effects on migratory birds that fly through the Gulf Coast during their migration;

e.         supporting the creation of sustainable green jobs for those who have lost their livelihoods due to the oil disaster; and

f.          supporting an ecumenical, locally based series of summits to discuss issues of dislocation, relocation, and resettlement as a result of communities becoming uninhabitable due to toxins in the environment.

3.   Direct the General Assembly Mission Council to make a one-time, special fundraising appeal to support the long-term recovery of communities impacted by the Deep Water Horizon oil disaster.

4.   Direct the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly to write a letter to the chief executive officer of BP, urging BP to ensure the safety of all workers, including oil industry workers and oil cleanup workers, through training, equipping, and monitoring of safety guidelines in compliance with OSHA.

5.   Direct the Mission Responsibility Through Investment Committee (MRTI) to communicate with oil and natural gas companies engaged in offshore exploration, drilling, and production urging them to conduct a thorough review of their operations to make certain that they are in compliance with their own health, safety, and environmental standards and all governmental regulatory requirements so that the general public can be assured that similar disasters will be prevented.

6.   Direct the Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C., to:

a.         Communicate with Congress and the Executive Branch the need to reconstitute a robust program of oversight and compliance to ensure that health, safety, and environmental standards are followed to protect workers, communities, and the environment.

b.         Urge Congress and the Executive Branch to hold BP and other responsible parties morally and financially accountable for this disaster and for the socioeconomic and environmental recovery.

Comment: It is impossible to express adequately the outrage felt by Presbyterians and others at the enduring tragedy unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico region today. While the long-term socioeconomic and spiritual effects of the Deep Water Horizon oil disaster are yet to be determined, urgent action by the PC(USA) is our Christian responsibility.

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