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Exxon in Arkansas: Oil Leaks vs. Press Leaks

Photo Exxon Oil Spill, AR_OilSpill201304by Frank LoBuono

Where is the outrage over the way that the Exxon Corporation is handling THEIR oil spill in a small Arkansas town? Here’s the main story: A neighborhood in a small Arkansas town is being destroyed by a thick, oily substance that is suddenly seeping through the ground and is collecting in pools everywhere. It’s been determined to be a type of crude oil that is, apparently, emanating from a damaged pipeline in the area being operated by Exxon. It is considered to be highly toxic.

Now, here’s the back story: No one seems to know EXACTLY what has happened, how it happened, or how it is being dealt with!! The reason for this is that¬† Exxon has declared virtual Martial Law, preventing free access to the area by the press. They are COMPLETELY controlling the amount of information being gathered and disseminated concerning key aspects of the spill. They have intimidated and threatened the press with arrest if they attempt access to the area. They have refused to answer even basic questions. The local police have been reported to have responded in the affirmative when asked if they are taking instructions directly from Exxon. The FAA, at the request of Exxon, has instituted a “no-fly” zone over the affected area. NO aerial photographs are to be made over the scene. Of course, Exxon sites health and safety reasons as the reasons for such strict measures. BULL SHIT! These measures are more than strict – they are draconian. They are designed to prevent a FREE PRESS, i.e. The People, from access to real answers and, therefore, accountability on the part of Exxon.

Exxon Work Continues on Oil Spill in Mayflower, AR

The owner of the pipeline which began leaking crude oil into a Mayflower, Arkansas neighborhood on March 29 is continuing efforts to address the spill. Exxon has submitted a plan to the US Department of Transportation to excavate and remove the damaged pipeline.

According to Reuters, 22 houses were evacuated following the spill. Four home owners have been given a green light to return to go home.

The cause of the leak to Exxon’s Pegasus pipeline is still under investigation. Mayflower is located about 20 miles from Little Rock, Arkansas.

What is happening in Arkansas is completely unacceptable. A PRIVATE company is dictating to the government, to THE PEOPLE, the way this situation is to be handled, how it is to be presented, and therefore, how it is to be PERCEIVED! They are accomplishing this by controlling the flow of information and restricting free, unfettered access by the press. The Freedom of The Press is such an important element in a democratic society that it is included in our Constitution by the addition of the 1st Amendment. So, the question is, why is this being allowed to happen?

This is an issue that, to me, should transcend politics. Every American should support a Free Press. It is essential to a free society. But, unfortunately, this IS political. It goes to the core of what we believe in and how we want our country to move forward. Exxon is the darling of the conservative core of the GOP. They contribute tens of million of dollars to Republican candidates and causes. The oil industry is the backbone of the GOP power base. Do the Kochs’ come to mind? It butters their bread. THIS is why the conservative GOP will do everything in its power to prevent the passage of even reasonable environmental restrictions on business – ones that may help to prevent “accidents” like the one that is currently unfolding in Arkansas!! The GOP will claim that ANY restrictions on the oil industry is bad for the economy and, therefore, bad for America. Well, how good is what’s happening in Arkansas?! This is the price we pay for GREED. And that’s all it is, GREED – the worst of human nature.

So, I ask again, where is the outrage – especially from those so-called “constitutionalists” who hide behind the Constitution and the 2nd Amendment during our current debate on gun control? This is an insidious move to restrict YOUR freedom, too.¬† This is BIG BUSINESS flaunting the Constitution. Exxon is looking you in the eye and saying, there is no need for you to know more. WE will tell you everything that We need you to know. And you will accept that??

Well, I, for one, will not. Not now. Not ever. Perhaps, it’s the New Yawka in me, but I’ll never accept we’ll tell you what we need you to know. Perhaps, because I’m a child of the Vietnam War era, I have a healthy mistrust of those who would tell me how to think. I made a statement years ago concerning the Exxon/Mobil Corporation; from the day I learned about how badly they handled the Valdez Oil Spill off the coast of Alaska, I never purchased fuel from them again. Not once. It’s a small statement, but it’s MY statement. I believe that the only thing they understand is money – the profit and loss of it. Well, it’s time for them to understand this: you won’t be getting any of mine. Don’t be afraid to unchain your inner beast- Righteous Rage can be a good thing.

Frank LoBuono has lived in Nyack for over 30 years writing and covering Rockland County in print, on TV and online. He works as a cameraman and an editor for a major TV News organization. You can read his blog at

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