Global environmental challenges
– Dr. Bruce Stein is associate director for wildlife conservation and global warming at the National Wildlife Federation. Any views expressed here are his own. —
Here at the National Wildlife Federation, we’re encouraged by reports of progress in permanently sealing the Gulf oil gusher and at removing oil from the Gulf’s surface. But we’re concerned that both BP and our federal government seem eager to declare the crisis over even as oil continues sullying the habitats on which the Gulf’s wildlife and seafood industry depend.
While Wednesday’s NOAA report touted that only a quarter of the oil is in marshes or still on the surface, it says another quarter was naturally or chemically “dispersed” beneath the surface.
That means about half of the oil, or 103 million gallons – the equivalent of nine Exxon Valdez disasters – remains on or below the Gulf’s surface, fouling coastal and marine habitats and hurting its wildlife.
It has an odd odor, oil mixed with dispersant. It’s reminiscent of the inside of an old mechanic shop or boat house, and out of place in the open water of Southern Louisiana’s Barataria Bay, which separates the Gulf of Mexico from the state’s fragile marshland.
One one point during a tour of the bay to see damage from the BP Plc oil spill, Capt. Sal Gagliano stopped his boat in a spot where reddish brown specs of the oil and dispersant mixture accumulated on the surface. It is slightly gooey to the touch.
Remember the Christian Coalition of America?
Under the political operative Ralph Reed in the 1990s it was an electoral force to be reckoned with as it mobilized millions of conservative Christians to vote for mostly Republican Party candidates and causes.
It has since lost influence and political ground to other "religious right" groups such as the Family Research Council. But it remains a sizeable grassroots organization and is still unflinchingly conservative.