The Love Canal campaign’s strategy was to shut down the schools and evacuate the 900 families. The movement was able to effectively frame the issue with the help of media and direct its target at the Hooker Chemical Company and the state’s Public Health department. Utilizing a wide range of tactics, from scientific research to law suits, petitions and even kidnapping of two EPA official, along with strong support in resources and allies, the Love Canal campaign was able to launch an anti-toxics movement (Lecture 17, Slide 19). On the other hand, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico failed to follow in the Love Canal campaign’s footstep to launch a clean energy movement.
In this essay, I will argue that the Gulf Oil Spill failed to launch a clean energy movement because there was not an emergence of major movement organizations for making decisions and carrying out activities. Also, although the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is one the most significant accident oil spill, but because oil spillages have occurred in the past, the BP oil spill did not surprised/shock the media and public as much as Love Canal’s incident. In addition, the underestimation of the impact of the spill by both British Petroleum and the government leads to the failure the frame the incident.
Using the lessons learned from the anti-toxics movement from the past to build a clean energy movement, I will propose that the Gulf Oil Spill must mobilize an ideologically-diversity group of people and utilize a wide range of tactics. In addition, in order to launch a successful movement with real grassroots political power, the movement needs to move towards a new direction of clean, renewable, and efficient energy (128).
First, I will argue that the Oil Spill failed to launch a clean energy movement because it lacked the emergence of major movement organizations. Since the incident of the spill, the oil spill faced a “power” problem, which complicated and opposed the emergence of movement organizations. The oil spill faced government disinterest and corporate opposition. The US oil industry opposed the emergence of the movement in order to protect its profit. Similarly, on the other hand, the government was disinterested in the issue due to the fact that the movement could call for national push for energy independence in the United States (Lecture 18, Slide 32). Furthermore, individuals face external barriers, such as the limited choice about oil infrastructure (Lecture 18, Slide 32). Along with the missing voice and lack of support from big environmental non-governmental organizations, such as NRDC, National Conservancy and WWF, the oil spill failed to establish major focal movement organizations. Whereas, on the other hand, the Love Canal campaign was able to establish major movement organizations, for example, the Citizens Clearinghouse for Hazardous Wastes, National Campaign Against Toxic Hazards, Greenpeace “Anti-toxics” campaign, etc. (Lecture 17, Slide 14) With the help of these organizations, the Love Canal campaign have established a stable structure and “rules for making decisions and carrying out activities” (Fuller, 3). In addition, the anti-toxics movement was represented by activists and organizers, such as Lois Gibbs, as the core of the movement. Because these organizations are relatively more stable and organized, the anti-toxics movement was also more continuous and longer-lived (Fuller, 3).
Other than the lack of emergence of movement organizations that failed to support the launch of a clean energy movement, the oil spill failed to grab the media’s full attention and support to launch a movement due to the fact that oil spillages have occurred many times in the past. There have been over 20 major oil spills occurred since the 1970s (website). One of the notable oil spillage is the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. Although the Exxon Valdez oil