Film star and New Orleans native Patricia Clarkson came home in mid-June to tour Barataria Bay with Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, City Council President Arnie Fielkow, and her mother, City Council Vice President Jackie Clarkson, as C-SPAN cameras recorded the visit. Last week, Clarkson became a spokesperson for the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), calling on Americans to contact Congress and urge passage of clean-energy legislation.
The Academy Award-nominated actress made a powerful short video for the NRDC, using footage from the Clarkson family's vintage home movies of swimming in Lake Pontchartrain and vacationing on the Gulf Coast, beginning with a shot of Patricia as a toddler in a blue dress, dancing on the levee with her mother, and ending with a plea for donations to the NRDC's Gulf Recovery Fund.
In an accompanying essay, Patricia likens the boom around the marshes to "Band-Aids on gunshot wounds." She writes, "I remember the Bay as a place filled with wildlife — birds, alligators, sea turtles, and of course abundant oyster, shrimp and crab beds. But since the BP explosion, the Bay has become an industrial zone. Oil sheen covered the water as far as we could see, and in every single marsh we passed, it was as if someone had taken a giant brush, dipped it in a big bucket of paint and painted the grass black. We went over to Cat Island, where the pelicans gather. There was no place for them to land that was oil-free, so they touched down in oily water, and their bellies were covered with the stuff."
She states flat-out that "BP has ruined the Gulf of Mexico," and adds, "We need to strengthen the regulations for offshore drilling so a disaster like this never happens again."
Such sentiments are, of course, easier expressed by an entertainer than a Bayou State politician. Several days before the Barataria Bay trip, Fielkow introduced a council resolution supporting the efforts of President Barack Obama and the federal government in combating the disaster. The resolution ended with a subtle rebuke of Obama's moratorium on deepwater drilling, urging the feds to "put all available expert resources on each rig subject to the moratorium, to evaluate its safety, and as a rig is deemed safe, to immediately remove the drilling ban on that rig." The council resolution passed 7-0. — Kevin Allman