Deepwater Horizon oil rig on fire

Burning oil rig

Recently I was asked to help put some perspective on what has been taking place in the Gulf of Mexico. From what I understand, this is (among other things) an opportunity for us to harness the frustration and anger being directed at the businesses involved. When harnessed properly, this energy can then be utilized in bringing about a change in the way that we as a people view our dependance upon fossil fuels and the risks that we will take to support our habit.

We are like drug addicts willing to sell their own mother for another fix. We are so fearful of becoming dependent upon foreign oil, that we are willing to risk damaging our own environment by taking to waters that are deeper and more difficult to work in, where our technology is outpaced by our desire for oil. If we had the technology in place to drill “safely” I suppose that’s one thing, but to drill when you cannot contain a blowout or similar problem is bordering on criminal.

The only way that I can see those responsible for this disaster truly making amends is if they honor their own clever marketing campaign by actually moving beyond petroleum, not later, now. As in, taking their vast revenues and ceasing all explorations for future oil reserves and depleting the wells they have already tapped and using all future profits from them in researching, developing, producing and marketing “clean” and renewable energy sources.

This could happen, if enough people push for it, including share holders, and others with a vested interest in these corporations. But, why would the company want to move away from oil when it is so profitable to continue drilling? The answer is to make it far more profitable to move away from the fossil fuels and too costly to continue drilling.

If the process by which to obtain a drilling permit was far more difficult and thorough, it is conceivable that our current crisis could have been averted. By the company’s own admission, they did not have the tools required to do the job when the rig collapsed and began spewing oil from under the sea.

It is much like having a fire in the kitchen and not having a fire extinguisher. You go to the store (with the kitchen on fire) and discover that they do not even have a fire extinguisher that will do the job. So, (with the kitchen nearly burned down) you start making stuff up on the spot and hope that something works before the kitchen is no longer standing.

The Gulf of Mexico will recover in time and so will those affected by this, at least those who live through it – a lot of marine life is being killed that we cannot see. The true impact that this incident has brought upon the earth is yet to be realized and while it will get “worse” before it gets better, it will eventually be behind us and hopefully we will be the wiser for it. With far greater penalties in place for incidents where there is spillage and strict safety regulations that are actually followed and not ignored.

While a healthy dose of anger being leveled at BP makes some sense, let us remember that if we were not content to continue using oil to fuel our vehicles etc., that they would be forced to move on to other fuels. We as a people, need to wean ourselves, by demanding alternative fuels, refusing to allow the continued exploitation of our “oil fields” located in environmentally sensitive places and by holding our politicians accountable.

Speaking of politicians, it truly is sad that the current president has benefited from campaign contributions from big oil. The corruption and cronyism that is/was rampant in the agency responsible for policing and regulating drilling by big oil is a complete travesty and needs to be completely overhauled. The judge that struck down the six month moratorium on deep water offshore oil drilling, had investments in big oil.

One of the most upsetting developments is the government acting as a private security force for BP. I watched a video of an individual who was filming across the street from BP’s Deepwater Horizon incident command center. While on private property (not BP’s) and across a busy street from BP’s building, an officer approached the gentleman and attempted to scare him off. He “strongly advised” that the individual stop filming. When questioned as to why, the officer replied that BP did not like being filmed.

Last week, Drew Wheelan, the conservation coordinator for the American Birding Association, was filming himself across the street from the BP building/Deepwater Horizon response command in Houma, Louisiana. As he explained to me, he was standing in a field that did not belong to the oil company when a police officer approached him and asked him for ID and “strongly suggest[ed]” that he get lost since “BP doesn’t want people filming”:

Here’s the key exchange:

Wheelan: “Am I violating any laws or anything like that?”

Officer: “Um…not particularly. BP doesn’t want people filming.”

Wheelan: “Well, I’m not on their property so BP doesn’t have anything to say about what I do right now.”

Officer: “Let me explain: BP doesn’t want any filming. So all I can really do is strongly suggest that you not film anything right now. If that makes any sense.”

Not really! Shortly thereafter, Wheelan got in his car and drove away but was soon was pulled over.

It was the same cop, but this time he had company: Kenneth Thomas, whose badge, Wheelan told me, read “Chief BP Security.” The cop stood by as Thomas interrogated Wheelan for 20 minutes, asking him who he worked with, who he answered to, what he was doing, why he was down here in Louisiana. He phoned Wheelan’s information in to someone. Wheelan says Thomas confiscated his Audubon volunteer badge (he’d recently attended an official Audubon/BP bird-helper volunteer training) and then wouldn’t give it back, which sounds like something only a bully in a bad movie would do. Eventually, Thomas let Wheelan go.

“Then two unmarked security cars followed me,” Wheelan told me. “Maybe I’m paranoid, but I was specifically trying to figure out if they were following me, and every time I pulled over, they pulled over.” This went on for 20 miles. Which does little to mitigate my own developing paranoia about reporting from what can feel like a corporate-police state.

This folks, is almost scarier than the oil spill (gusher) itself. I believe that this little incident illustrates the entire problem. Our government is in bed with big business and when that happens it is safe to say our democratic society has been compromised and is under heavy attack by greed.

Here is the story:

http://www.blacklistednews.com/?news_id=9387

PS

Sending out feelings of hatred to Tony Hayward, President Obama and others involved in this debacle will not help. Instead we should be sending our supportive and constructive thoughts and energy to those involved with this disaster.

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