'CarnivOIL' makes stop at MU, takes aim at oil industry

Monday, September 13, 2010 | 6:05 p.m. CDT
MU sophomore Joe Rexwinkle pauses after striking the lever on the strongman game at the CarnivOIL event Monday on Lowry Mall at MU. The event used midway-style games to suggest the oil industry has a negative impact on government and the environment.

COLUMBIA — “Tar the Goldfish” is not a game you see at every carnival.

The MU College Democrats and Clean Energy Works co-sponsored "CarnivOIL," a tongue-in-cheek, carnival-style event with an anti-oil industry message, Monday on Lowry Mall.


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The event is part of a 25-city tour put on by Clean Energy Works; its youth coalition, the Consequence Campaign; and several local groups, said Benton Strong, deputy director with the Consequence Campaign. Strong said the event aims to draw attention to the oil industry’s influence on Congress.

“No industry has more power in Washington, D.C., than big oil,” Strong said. “They’re having a party in Washington, and this is like a carnival big oil would throw.”

The MU College Democrats co-sponsored the event, emphasizing youth opposition to the efforts of Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from creating stricter greenhouse gas regulations. McCaskill is co-sponsoring a bill that would suspend EPA greenhouse gas regulation on stationary sources such as coal power plants or oil refineries for two years.

“Ill-timed or imprudent regulation of GHGs (greenhouse gases) may squander critical opportunities for our nation, impeding the investment necessary to create jobs and position our nation to develop and produce its own clean energy,” McCaskill and several senators wrote in a letter to the EPA.

MU College Democrats Treasurer Greg Young said he’s “frustrated” with McCaskill’s actions regarding climate change and the environment.

“This is an important issue to young people, and she hasn’t shown a lot of leadership on the issue,” Young said. “It’s up to us to show her what we want and push her in a certain direction.”

Strong agreed, saying he would like to see the senator “stand against big oil.”

“McCaskill’s a great senator for Missouri, but we need her to say to the oil industry, ‘We’ve had enough of your special interest in Washington,’ and start working for the people,” Strong said.

MU junior Mike Lhotak said he stopped by CarnivOIL between classes because the games drew his attention.

“This is a good way to intrigue people and spark good conversation,” Lhotak said.  

MU freshman Ethan Lowenstein agreed, saying it was nice to see people continuing to talk about how they can help the environment, even though the “oil spill is old news now.”

“A lot still needs to be done, and getting people to keep talking and stay involved is the way to do it,” Lowenstein said. “This event was a good way to get people to pay attention and retain information.”

CarnivOIL events included “Spill-o-rama,” a game in which the player uses a hammer to send a marker up a scale of the some of the largest oil spills; “Tar the Goldfish,” in which the player tosses a pingpong ball representing a tar ball into containers of fake fish; and “Fat Cats,” a game in which players throw balls trying to knock over images of oil executives.

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