Environmental organizations are hustling to race to the “scene of the crime” in the Gulf. The eco-devastation will be beyond measure.

I’m in the process of recruiting volunteers through the St. Marys EarthKeepers and have registered us with the Mobile Baykeepers and the Audubon Society (both of whom are orchestrating volunteer efforts). It is crucial that well-meaning people do not enter the area before training centers are set up for the work that must be done is complex. I urge any of you who wish to assist the efforts to register with either of these organizations and then to await their instructions.

What I fail to understand is how opening up the Atlantic seaboard to oil drilling will lessen the United States’ reliance on “foreign oil”. Thus far many of the seven companies that have expressed interest in off-shore GA drilling are “foreign”.

Consider the situation in the Gulf: BP is a British firm. Even if that company ponies up the billions of dollars for clean-up, nothing can replace a devastated eco-system and the loss of countless species affected.

Documents show that British Petroleum downplayed the possibility of a catastrophic accident in the Gulf of Mexico. In its 2009 exploration plan and environmental impact analysis for the well, BP suggested it was “unlikely or virtually impossible for an accident to occur that would lead to a giant crude oil spill and serious damage to beaches, fish and mammals.”

BP’s environmental “report card” is appalling:

  • BP was named by Mother Jones Magazine as one of the “ten worst corporations” in both 2001 and 2005 based on its environmental and human rights records.
  • In 1991 BP was cited as the most polluting company in the US based on EPA toxic release data.
  • BP has been charged with burning polluted gases at its Ohio refinery (for which it was fined $1.7 million), and in July 2000 BP paid a $10 million fine to the EPA for its management of its US refineries.
  • According to PIRG research, between January 1997 and March 1998, BP was responsible for 104 oil spills.
  • BP/Amoco was a member of the Global Climate Coalition, an industry organization established to promote global warming scepticism.
  • When, in July 2006, BP admitted, only after journalists became aware of the spill, that it was facing criminal charges for allowing 270,000 gallons of crude oil to spread into the Alaskan tundra, critics pointed to the relative lack of press coverage about the spill as evidence that BP had successfully “greenwashed” its image while maintaining environmentally unsound practices.

“Our thirst for fossil fuel means we’ve been playing Russian roulette with our environment,” said Ken Rosenberg, director of conservation science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “The gun just went off.”‘

Up-date: The Gulf oil slick that’s growing by the minute will likely get caught in what’s called the “Loop Current,” which flows through the Florida Straits and becomes the Gulf Stream – which runs up the eastern coast of Florida and Georgia. The Loop Current is about 35 miles south of the slick, which is currently the size of Puerto Rico and growing by the hour. Oil industry experts and officials are reluctant to describe what, exactly, a worst-case scenario would look like — but if the oil gets into the Gulf Stream Loop (as appears likely at this time) it will be carried to the  beaches of Florida, Georgia and beyond. This situation appears to be an environmental and economic disaster of epic proportions.

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Alex Kearns

Alex Kearns

Alex writes for a variety of national and international publications. A relative newcomer to the United States, she co-founded her town's first environmental organization (The St. Marys EarthKeepers, Inc.). In turns bemused, confused, entranced, frustrated and delighted, she enjoys unravelling the eternal enigma that is the Deep South.