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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Activists organize screenings of Crude Justice throughout the country

Last Tuesday was the deadline for Gulf Coast residents impacted by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig to file claims for emergency payments from the BP compensation fund administered by Kenneth Feinberg. More than 400,000 claims were filed before the deadline, and approximately 150,000 individuals and businesses have received an estimated $2.2 billion. The next phase in this process is the negotiation of lump-sum final settlements for those affected by the spill, a process which will play out over the course of three years.

This fall, AFJ released Crude Justice, a short documentary film narrated by actor and environmentalist Ed Begley Jr., that highlights the impact of the oil spill on individuals, families and small business owners, and explores the legal landscape they are facing while seeking justice and fair compensation from BP and other liable parties. Along with over 5,000 online viewers, scores of activists have organized screenings of Crude Justice throughout the country. Here are a few highlights:

On October 6, the Eric R. Neisser Public Interest Program at Rutgers School of Law–Newark sponsored, Crude Oil: Legal Implications of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill,” an event that included a screening of Crude Justice and a panel discussion exploring the environmental and community impact of the BP disaster in the Gulf. The panel was moderated by Steve Gold, Director of the Environmental Law Clinic at Rutgers-Newark and a former senior attorney in the Environmental Enforcement Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, and included Sarah Chasis Senior Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Rachel Jacobson, Principal Deputy Solicitor, U.S. Department of the Interior.

On October 25, the Environmental Law Society at the University of Mississippi School of Law organized a screening of Crude Justice and a discussion of the legal options open to Gulf residents. The discussion was led by professor David W. Case, who teaches environmental and toxic torts and environmental law, and professor Stephanie Showalter, who serves as Director of the law school’s National Sea Grant Law Center. The event drew over 50 students from the campus community.

A screening of the film organized at Golden Gate University School of Law on October 25 by the Environmental Law Journal, Environmental Law Society, and American Constitution Society featured a discussion with Deborah Behles, an associate professor of law and clinical staff attorney at the GGU Environmental Law and Justice Clinic; Leila Monroe, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council; and Thomas Azwell, a doctoral candidate in Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley.

Harvard Law School’s Environmental Law Society held a screening of Crude Justice on October 27. Following the film screening, a panel of students who performed pro bono legal work in the Gulf spoke about their experiences. The event drew a record number of attendees for a Harvard Environmental Law Society event.

On November 3, University of the District of Columbia School of Law chapters of the Environmental Law Society, American Constitution Society, and National Lawyers Guild brought together more than 50 students for an event that featured a screening of the film and a discussion with Danielle Franco-Malone, Dorot Fellow, Alliance for Justice, and Jenny Rasmussen and Kate Degravelles, attorneys with the American Association for Justice. Law professor John Brittain moderated the discussion. Event organizer Diane Saey opened the screening, saying “My hope is that, after the film and discussion, each student will leave with a quick, short list of ways to contribute toward the betterment of the environment.” At the conclusion of the event, scores of students pledged to join with the Alliance for Justice to monitor the situation in the Gulf Coast and urge BP CEO Robert Dudley to make the Gulf and its people whole again.

Crude Justice calls on all of us to join the fight for justice and full recovery in the Gulf. Sign up today to bring Crude Justice to your campus and community and ensure that the people of the Gulf continue to be heard!

Connect with Alliance for Justice online to stay updated on legal and environmental developments and take action to help the people of the Gulf.

Click here to view the 17-minute film online.

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