I flew into New Orleans last week, I felt like the ghosts of the
Exxon Valdez environmental disaster were floating around the Gulf
Coast. EV is one of the countryís largest oil spills yet most of
us have vague memories of the 1989 man-made catastropheóexcept the
victimized citizens and 1300 miles coastline of Alaska.
disaster resulted in 11 million gallons of crude oil seeping into
the Alaskan waters, killing wildlife and a way of life. The cost
of the clean up was about $2.1 billion while the impact on living
things was incalculable and perpetual.†
spill affected more than fish and fowl according to Stan Jones, spokesman for the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens' Advisory
Council. "The community exhibited every kind of social stress
you can imagine," he said. Suicides, domestic violence, bankruptcies,
drug abuse abounded in coastal towns. People still suffer from medical
problems and premature deaths stemming from the lethal oil spill.
Things were never the same. Expect a similar response from the Gulf.
is prophetic that the Deepwater Horizon oil rig tragedy occurred
during the 40th anniversary month of Earth Day. The deaths of eleven
workers were eclipsed by the 200,000+ gallons of oil gushing into
the Gulf of Mexico every day since April 20. BP has been hit with
about 5000 claims for damages and says that it is spending about
$17 million per day in clean up costs. Thatís pittance when you
look at the companyís daily profit of $93 million in the first quarter
of this year.
Obama has declared that no expense will be spared to help with the
clean up. He was talking about our money. We donít know what our
share will be for cleaning up the big mess. What we do know is that
once again, citizens must pay for the destructive actions of greedy
with the Exxon Valdez spill, the Deepwater Horizon spill threatens
all kinds of species both animal and plant and jeopardizes all the
livelihoods that are dependent upon healthy and vibrant waters.
BP had given the public assurances that the required safety mechanisms
were in place should a malfunction happen. Now we have to watch
BP, Transocean Ltd. and Halliburton play their blame game on Capitol
Hill. These characters are slicker than the oil they are pumping
out of the ground.
Exxon Valdez, the BP and the couple of dozen spills in between are
not just about spills and drills. If there was any doubt that the
oil industry can and will do the right thing, the BP disaster obliterated
that notion. Environmentalists have it right: it is too dirty and
too dangerous. Further, the companies have shown that canít be trusted
with the truth let alone human lives and ecosystems.
Exxon Valdez and BP debacles highlight an industry more concerned
about profit than progeny. In both cases, company officials lied
about the initial level of catastrophe which delayed the immediate
action needed to contain the damage. The industry spends millions
trying to buy off people whether they are victims of their greed
and recklessness or our governmental officials. According to the
Center for Responsive Politics, the oil barons spent nearly $170
million in 2009 to lobby our lawmakers. BPís share of that was about
Department of Interior is supposed to the Peopleís Watch Dog. During
the Bush Junior Administration, the DOI partied down. They were
in bed with the very industry that they were supposed to be keeping
in check. No, I mean they were literally in bed with the
industry. According to the report by the US Inspector General, violations
ranged from financial shenanigans to illegal gifts from the enemy
to drug and sex orgies. The departmentís inspector general called
it ďa culture of ethical failure.Ē That was putting it lightly.
the heart of the scandal was the Mineral Management Service (MMS)
which is supposed to collect about $10 billion in royalties annually
for contracts that allow oil companies to drill around our country.†
MMS is one of the governmentís biggest
sources of revenue other than taxes.† So while government and energy
company employees were kickingí it, collecting royalties became
less a priority.
hope is that we look at our energy problem in a holistic and comprehensive
way. Itís not solely about alternative energy sources; itís about
a collective lifestyle change; itís about green policies on a global
scale; itís about enforcing regulations and creating new ones that
address evolving issues; and itís about the accountability of corporations
to the planet. Finally, itís about developing a humane and sustainable
society that supports life for generations to come.
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member Jamala Rogers is Leader of the Organization
for Black Struggle in
St. Louis and the Black
Radical Congress National
Organizer. Click here to contact Ms. Rogers.