Sandra Bullock issued a statement asking that her participation in the Restore the Gulf campaign be removed after reports that a number of oil companies, including BP, helped finance one of its partner orgs.
The organization, America’s Wetland Foundation, gets funding from BP, Chevron and Shell, among other groups.
Per ThinkProgress, Bullock’s reps said, “Ms. Bullock was originally contacted through her attorney to be a part of the PSA in order to promote awareness of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. At no time was she made aware that any organization, oil company or otherwise had influence over Women of the Storm or its message. We have immediately asked for her participation in the PSA be removed until the facts can be determined. Her commitment to the Gulf region has been apparent for many years and she will continue to pursue opportunities that will bring awareness and support to the plight of the Gulf region.”
The Restore the Gulf’s PSA also includes celebrities like Bryan Batt, John Goodman, Lenny Kravitz, Dave Matthews, James Carville, Alfre Woodard and Harry Shearer. The “Be the One” PSA campaign directs viewers to the Restore the Gulf website, where users can sign a petition to demand that “a plan to restore America’s Gulf be fully funded and implemented for me and future generations.” As the website Treehugger notes, it does not specify who should be responsible.
Spearheading the campaign, which launched July 20, was the org Women of the Storm.
Today, the wetlands org issued a lengthy response and rebuttal, arguing that it was independent from oil company money and “at no time was a major sponsor of the AWF invited to sit on the board or direct the actions of the Foundation.”
“In the case of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, AWF has been clear in its position: a portion of the damages to be paid by BP must go to coastal restoration of disappearing wetlands and barrier islands. AWF and some of its partners – Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, and Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana – recently ran ads in national and regional publications, calling for measures that would accelerate restoration, and “ensuring that a significant percentage of the penalty monies that will be paid by BP be dedicated to coastal restoration as reparations for the contamination of the thousands of acres of coastal marsh that cannot be cleaned up.” AWF has never advocated that taxpayers foot the bill for the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
“Since day one, AWF has purposefully invited the oil and gas industry to participate in the work of the Foundation in raising awareness of land loss and in its America’s Energy Coast initiative that brings together national environmental organizations with industry and diverse coastal interests to forge cooperation in making the Gulf region sustainable, both economically and environmentally.”
One participant I talked to that the story is overblown, and that a distinction wasn’t made between the restoration of the wetlands and the cleanup of the oil spill. The former has long been a problem in New Orleans; the latter is what is on everyone’s radar.