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Karen Dalton-Beninato

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Sandra Bullock and Mr. Bill on Campaign: Oh Nooo

Posted: 07/29/2010 3:56 pm

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Sandra Bullock is the second celebrity to pull out of a project tied to America's Wetland Foundation, the first was Mr. Bill. In the summer of 2005, environmental activist Walter Williams produced a Mr. Bill Estuarian series to warn of what could happen if the wetlands were not shored up and a hurricane hit New Orleans. He had been a longtime advocate of big oil needing to pay to rebuild the wetlands which are disappearing after their shipping canals created salt water intrusion.

Walter wrapped up the series, headed to the West Coast and soon afterwards we saw Shell Oil stickers on the video kiosks all over New Orleans. My husband Jeff, Mr. Hands in the series, sent him a photo and Walter asked America's Wetland Foundation to take oil company logos off of the kiosks. They didn't, so he pulled his support of the campaign. Two months later Katrina hit.

The estuarian series was mentioned in Congress when Senator Mary Landrieu said that as far as the danger from diminishing protective wetlands leaving our area at risk, "Mr. Bill knew more than Mr. Bush." In the years afterwards, Americas Wetland Foundation began promoting America's Energy Coast, with Chairman King Milling at the helm and funding from the oil industry.

Milling's wife, Ann Milling, has revived Women of The Storm which was founded post-Katrina and they launched a Be The One gulf petition. In an online video with other celebrities, Bullock called for people to Be The One and sign the petition for congress and President Barack Obama to fully fund wetlands restoration after the BP Oil Spill.

An article here on the Huffington Post accused the PSA of greenwashing by suggesting that taxpayers pay to restore the wetlands rather than BP, and Think Progress and DeSmogBlog alerted Bullock to the project's America's Wetland Foundation ties. Her publicist told ThinkProgress the actress would ask for her participation in the PSA be removed until the facts can be determined.

"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 statement said.

The Foundation gave Huffington's Sam Stein a statment that oil companies have given donations to the group, but for purely scientific or ecological functions. New Orleans newspaper the Times Picayune has picked up the story this morning and again tonight with a "Sandra Bullock Pulls Back from Defend the Gulf Petition" article mentioning Williams severing his earlier ties with the foundation.

Williams gave NewOrleans.com the statement: "America's Wetland is an insidious plot by the oil industry to commit Louisiana's future share of offshore oil revenues to funding the state's coastal restoration plan "Morganza To The Gulf" which basically only protects Port Fouchon and the oil infrastructure. They want the American taxpayer to pay for the mess they made that is now endangering their very facilities. They're trying to stick it, once again, to the "small people.""

Estuarian campaign pictured above, Be The One campaign pictured below.

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