Thursday, June 17, 2010

I'll Gas- Up at BP - I Have Friends Who Work at Whiting, Indiana's BP Refinery

Whiting, Indiana is a British Petroleum ( BP)Town and one of the gems of the Lake Michigan area. The town is lock-stock and barrels of oil a BP town - before that Amoco and before that Standard Oil.

I lived in Griffith, Indiana from 1994 until 1998. My neighbors worked at Inland Steel, LTV Steel and Amoco. My son Conor's buddy Frankie Alvarez's Dad was an Amoco Firefighter - yes, they had their own fire department. Amoco had a Piper Cub plane that used to buzz the pipelines along Chicago Avenue in East Chicago with a gas leak detector. Pechous, Danyanovich, Colley, and so many other families took Cline Avenue North to Whiting's Amoco works. Thousands of Indiana and Illinois people work there.

I will not boycott BP. The BP guy at 103rd & Western's station is an Arab American whose livelihood depends on customers from the neighborhood and those passing through.

Today every balloon-head and jerk in Congress will try to "kick some BP ass!" The idiot box loudmouths on CNN,ABC,MSNBC & etc. will go all street on BP. Big Ed Schultz will do his Hermann Goring schtick.

The Irish invented the boycott for a real villain - not some media fabricated one. My heart breaks for the folks in the gulf.Take a breath. You have neighbors close by who depend upon their jobs with BP.

As Day 60 of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill nears and tens of thousands of gallons of crude continue to gush from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, South Floridians are venting their outrage over the spill at the pumps.

Some drivers have been boycotting South Florida BP stations for weeks now, forcing some independent owners to distance themselves from the oil giant. One station owner in Boca even created big signs to let customers know where he stands.

Owners like Max Alvarez, who owns or supplies more than 300 gas stations throughout Florida, many of them BP, said locals are feeling the pinch of the boycott -- not BP.

"The message if not affecting the right people, the message is not affecting BP," Alvarez said. "The messages are affecting the very families who are innocent, who are also very upset and angry of what happened."
On Facebook, the BP boycott has over 640,000 people on board, though BP Oil doesn't own stations in America, it only supplies them with gasoline.

While thousands of people are boycotting BP, there are many more who are not, and price, customer loyalty and convenience are the reasons why.

"I just came in because it was the cheapest gas," said one customer.

"This time, I did think about it, but, like I said, I'm guilty, I put gas in," said another.

Alvarez points to one of his stations, where 30 people are employed. He says those are the people who would be affected by the boycott. Local vendors who supply the store with food and other items would be impacted too.

But for many people, boycotting BP is about principle, not economics, and Alvarez said he understands.

"A boycott, it's people demonstrating their anger over what happened, we can understand that," he said.

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