Environment Forum

Now is not the time to research oil cleanup

May 26, 2010

rona

– Rona Fried, Ph.D., is CEO of SustainableBusiness.com, a news and networking site for green businesses: including a green jobs service and a green investing newsletter.  Any views expressed here are her own. —

Before the catastrophic BP oil drilling failure, polls showed that Americans favored oil drilling as a safe way to increase our energy independence. This was after decades of polls trending in the opposite direction.

Are Americans learning something from this?

I submit that Americans have become too trusting and complacent toward multinational corporations – will this be a wake-up call? Since the Obama Administration came into office, we’ve seen stark reminders of corporate greed and lack of appropriate regulatory oversight in just about every industry – the recent coal mining accidents, the outrageous behavior of Wall Street firms, a health care industry that raises premiums 40 percent even in the face of regulation, and now an oil industry that proves it’s completely unprepared to deal with an accident.

It’s bad enough that BP and the U.S. government have no idea how to stop or contain the oil spill, but why couldn’t they protect the shorelines and wetlands from the inevitable drift of oil?

Is it too much to ask that before oil drilling is approved that a plan be in place to prevent it from reaching our shores?

Is it too much to ask that before oil drilling is approved that best available technologies to deal with an accident be identified, purchased and stockpiled?

Now is NOT the time to evaluate and research various oil dispersants! Why wasn’t this done long ago? The least toxic oil dispersant – or better yet, a nontoxic biodegradable substance – should have been integrated into protocol by now.

Watching television footage of the spill, it’s alarming to see people using garden shovels to lift oil drenched sand and put it in plastic bags!  Is this our best available “technology?”

Obviously, there’s been no effort to develop appropriate, effective technologies. The same methods used in the Exxon Valdez spill – that didn’t work –are being used today. Using paper towels to remove the oil from animals’ bodies, using flimsy booms to protect the shore, and using dispersants that are known to be toxic to the very ecosystems we’re trying to protect.

It’s high time we focus on developing much more advanced, non-toxic technologies in addition to extensive implementation plans, or sorry, no oil drilling allowed.

We’ll see whether Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal changes his mind about promoting oil drilling versus an emphasis on energy efficiency and renewable energy to solve our nation’s energy needs.

Although he voted against the stimulus bill as part of the Republican block and criticizes “big government” and deficits, he’s being extremely aggressive in obtaining every conceivable avenue for disaster funding for his state.

But his idea for ameliorating this spill is a good one – build barrier islands off the coast to stop the oil from reaching the shore. Barrier islands would not only protect the coast from oil spills, they would help prevent another Katrina by buffeting strong winds and tides.

Now, the idea is being researched for potential negative impacts on currents, coastal erosion, and wildlife habitat. Again, why wasn’t this researched and a plan put in place a long time ago? Why are people scrambling to figure it out now?

Even worse is the inaction and utter lack of emergency response. Jindal has been asking for dredging to build barrier islands for two weeks to no avail. BP commissioned private fishing boats to combat approaching oil, but didn’t bother to send them out to lay out the flimsy, “protective” boom until the oil came ashore.

President Obama says there’s a moratorium on new permits for offshore drilling, yet permits have been handed out since this accident occurred. And unbelievably, he hasn’t halted plans for Shell to drill in the Arctic this summer, where there’s absolutely no doubt that an accident would be catastrophic.

Imagine the same challenges as the Gulf, plus bitter cold, ice, extreme wind and wave conditions, 24-hour darkness for months and response equipment for a blowout of this size being weeks away.  Right now, Shell is scheduled to start exploratory drilling in early July.

We watch day after day after day expecting appropriate action, yet nothing happens – except for the oil leaching further and further into wetlands, coating untold thousands of sea turtles, pelicans (taken off the endangered species list this year!) and countless other animals.

And all we have to help them is paper towel.

Comments
3 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

An interesting perspective on the BP oil spill as it pertains to Sanibel Island in Florida – http://www.capecoralbarometer.com/featur es/130-oil-spill

Posted by EricTaubert | Report as abusive
 

Thanks to the GOP’s allegiance to Big Oil and the systematic propaganda aimed at their voting stooges, our nation is unprepared for the insecurity that is coming. Now we will pay the real price of cheap energy.

As long as the South keeps electing Republicans, the stability of the affected Gulf State aconomies will be jeopardized. Unemployment will likely get worse and the state governments will not function. There will be social upheavals and no safety nets. People will leave those states to seek jobs elsewhere, shrinking the tax base further.

Republicans have hated the environmnent for years. They will never protect it and even create systems to destroy it in the name of profit and greed. They hate science, they hate education. They hate clean air and clean water. They hate nature, They hate democracy and they hate government.

The GOP slogan for the environment = “Kill Baby Kill”.

Posted by 5280hi | Report as abusive
 

moratorium on drilling,, just “till we find out what happened?” anyone ever hear about ishtoc2? that happened in 1979, and we still don’t know what happened. Tmex Oil never paid a dime to the gulf coast residents, claming national sovereignity, (mexico). we have oil reseves on land and in less deep water ,but radical environmentist have pushed oil companys into deep water.
i think a moratorium is a another way to reconcile nationalize the oil companys. a nother cloaked step towards scoialism. i don’t believe democracy is a good idea. if in a democracy, you have 20 men and 19 women, and the vote is whether rape should be legal,,,,,,might not work to well for the women. i belive a representive republic is a better way.

Posted by Buddy28403 | Report as abusive
 

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