Not Waiting on BP to Help the Children of Plaquemines Parish


As BP continues to abandon Gulf communities and the U.S. government tries to defend its disastrous “vast majority of oil is gone” moments, cash-strapped local agencies continue to find ways to meet the increasing demands of our post-spill reality. A great example is a new mobile health clinic that is bringing a pediatrician to lower Plaquemines Parish, where the spill has hit hard among people who didn’t have a lot of cushion to begin with.

USA Today is reporting on the effort, saying: “‘The Children’s Health Fund is also providing a caseworker and a mental health counselor to work with children five days a week,’ said Dr. Irwin Redlener, head of CHF and of Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness. For now, he said, ‘the mobile clinic will drive down once a week, rotating among two locations in Port Sulphur and one each in Braithwaite and Boothville.'”

It sounds like a great program; the only offensive part is that BP isn’t the one paying for it. Dr. Redlener: “As we raise more money for the program in Plaquemines, we’re going to expand [availability] to five days a week. But we wanted to get it started.” Right. Raising money in Plaguemines, a parish of about 20,000 people, where the spill utterly destroyed the economy.

You have to admire the focus on children’s well-being, but you can’t help but be outraged about Plaquemines residents digging deep to pay for BP’s damages. In a better world, you could count of the federal government to make BP pay, but I doubt that’s going to happen here.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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