On Saturday, March 30th, as Rep. Lee Terry betrayed the interests of farmers and ranchers in Nebraska by touting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, tar sands oil was bubbling up through from a leaking underground pipe in Mayflower, Arkansas, sickening residents and even a photographer who flew over ExxonMobil's new flora/fauna killing fields.
Although ExxonMobil's law enforcement proxies from the Faulkner County Sheriff's office threatened media with arrest, and the oil company got the FAA to empower a ExxonMobil employee to screen and refuse media requests for overflights, neither ExxonMobil nor Sheriff Andy Shock could stop the release of EPA photographs of the damage, which AKSARBENT has used to accompany the preposterous, unprincipled and false agitprop of Nebraska GOP Rep. Terry.
“It was less than 90 seconds before suddenly the sheriff's deputies started yelling that all the media people had to leave, that ExxonMobil had decided they don't want you here, you have to leave. They even referred to it as "Exxon Media"…Some reporters were like, "Who made this decision? Who can we talk to?" The sheriff's deputies started saying, "You have to leave. You have 10 seconds to leave or you will be arrested."The Faulkner County, Arkansas Sheriff''s Department seems to be serving ExxonMobil first and the public last. Here's an account from ExxonMobil's Arkansas dead zone from Tar Sands Blockade:
Upon approaching the spill zone, we were almost immediately stopped by police and warned that any “sneaking around” would lead to an immediate trip to the Faulkner County Jail, “no warnings.”
Despite the stern advisory, this particular officer made it clear that these orders were coming straight from Exxon, and that only press with permission from Exxon media officials were to be granted access to document the site. No less than 20 minutes later, we were stopped again and issued a similar warning.
Though our time here has just begun, we’ve been able to secure interviews with locals who are none too happy with the way ExxonMobil has now permanently affected their community. One woman, who lives just outside the evacuation zone, is reporting that the stench of tar sands is so strong throughout her home that she’s unable to eat. Though she lives just one house away from the evacuation zone, she has yet to be contacted by Exxon officials regarding the spill.
|Faulkner County, Arkansas|
Deputy Thomas Sweeney:
"It's my property now."
Out of earshot of the residents, Sweeney told us to leave. We reiterated that the landowner gave us permission. Sweeney said that we didn't have his permission. We said that it was the landowner's property. He responded "It's my property now."
At least (unlike some Arkansas law enforcement officers) Sweeney didn't steal the camera.
Below: aerial photography made before FAA ceded control of airspace over the Mayflower spill to Exxon employee Tom Surhoff: