Home     Writers     Op/Ed     Book Reviews     News     Bookstore     Photoshops     Submit     Search     Contact Us     Advertise  
  You are here: 

Fri

04

Jun

2010

Oily Politics Led to Environmental Disaster
Friday, 04 June 2010 05:17
by Walter Brasch

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) had a good idea to slow or stop the Gulf Coast oil spill from reaching shore. Build artificial barrier islands, he told the federal government. He wanted the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River to strengthen and connect the existing barrier islands. The $350 million plan, which Jindal demanded be paid for by BP Oil, would establish an 80–85 mile barrier, about 200 feet wide and six feet high. The barriers would also protect the marshlands, the federal wildlife preserves, and a fragile ecosystem.

When the federal government didn't respond, he threatened to have Louisiana do the job itself, and had his attorney general notify the Corps of Engineers that under the 10th Amendment the state had a right to protect itself during an emergency. After two weeks of discussion and analysis by the Corps, President Obama ordered the first of six islands to be built. Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen, the on-scene commander, said the first island would be a prototype; if it worked, five more would be built. Jindal wants 24 islands, but believes the first six are a good start.

The oil spill, more than 200,000 gallons a day and entering its sixth week, is now the size of Delaware and Maryland combined. Eleven workers are dead, 17 are injured, from the explosion of BP's Deep Water Horizon, April 20. Several hundred thousand marine mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles have been killed by the spill. Even those oil-soaked birds and mammals that hundreds of volunteers have helped clean may be only days from death. About 34,000 Brown Pelicans, recently taken off the endangered species list, and seagulls continue to dive through the oil-soaked ocean to get to the food supply. Thousands of migratory birds, during a two to three week rest in the Gulf Coast barrier islands on their flight north from South America, are dying. Sea Turtles, manatees, and dolphins still need to come up through the oil slick for air; eye irritations are the least of the problems they encounter. For about 5,000 dolphins, this is also their birthing season; mothers who survive may have oil on their teats; their calves may die from lack of nutrition or from ingesting the oil. The affected areas of the Gulf are also the spawning grounds for tuna, marlin, and swordfish. Even the fish, which may survive by staying below the spill, are affected by the oil. The coral reefs are being destroyed by the oil and what is needed to be done to break up that oil. More than 700,000 gallons of chemical dispersants, used to help break up the oil, add to the destruction of the balance of nature. Its toxicity may affect sea life for at least a decade.


The $2.5 billion fishing industry, a major part of the life of the Gulf, has been devastated. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has closed about 46,000 square miles of fishing fields, about one-fourth of all fishing waters in the Gulf. The lucrative shrimp, oyster, and clam industries are not only closed, but the effects will last for more than one season. Boat captains and their crews are idle. Tourism at the beginning of what is normally a lucrative summer season is almost non-existent.

Had the barrier islands been in place several years ago, the effects of the spill would have been significantly less. Erosion, combined with deep water oil drilling long before the Horizon explosion, had destroyed natural barrier islands and wetlands. A $14 billion proposal by the Corps of Engineers, supported by Louisiana, environmentalists and the oil industry to restore the area levees, wetlands, and barrier islands was rejected by President George W. Bush. Both he and Vice-President Dick Cheney, former oil company executives, were more concerned about protecting the oil industry than the people who would be affected by Big Oil. Besides, they had a war to wage in Iraq, and $14 billion was too much to spend on domestic protections.

Much of the $100 billion damage from Hurricane Katrina, a Category 3 storm, was not from the wind and rain but from the failure to provide adequate protection.

It is that same protection, those same barrier islands that were destroyed by the oil industry years ago, that would have significantly slowed or stopped the nation's worst environmental disaster, one caused not by nature but the incompetence of mankind.

"Drill, Baby, Drill" was once an in-our-face slogan of certain politicians and the oil industry that feeds them. It is now but a reminder that when mankind destroys the environment, there will be tragic consequences.

For more information about the barrier islands as protection for the environment, read Walter Brasch's critically-acclaimed book, 'Unacceptable': The Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina, available at amazon.com and other bookstores.

More from this author:
The Bush Magical Mystery Political Capital Tour (9833 Hits)
The Bush War Cabinet is invoking the memory of 9/11 as justification for their systematic shredding of constitutional and human...
Sex, Lies, and Family Values (10504 Hits)
The parents of a 16-year-old Congressional page contacted their congressman, Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La.). Alexander says he contacted both...
Yo Ho Ho and an Embottled Rummy (5968 Hits)
by Walter Brasch The ressignation of Donald Rumsfeld doesn't change the problem of a President who is incompetent and malevolent, nor is it...
Making the World Safer for Terrorism (5757 Hits)
by Walter Brasch Deep in a cave or high on a mountain, in Pakistan or Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan or, maybe, sunning on the French...
Give War a Chance (5838 Hits)
by Walter Brasch While millions are protesting the war in Iraq and the escalation, there are many who are standing by their man, and...
Related Articles:
From Liberating Spirituality to Oppressive Dogma: The Politics of Religion (17638 Hits)
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D. Spirituality is intrapersonal. It’s a liberating and uplifting awareness. It nurtures personal growth. It inspires...
When Failure is Better than Success: What Americans, and the World, Owe to the Disaster in Iraq (8129 Hits)
by Andrew Bard Schmookler There can be no doubt that the failed American invasion of Iraq has been a terrible thing. Because of...
Iran and Reality: A Flickering Light on the Edge of Disaster (6405 Hits)
by Chris Floyd "Leave Us Alone, Iranian Reformers Say" (The Progressive, via Steve Gilliard) This is an extremely important...
The Project for the New American Disaster (4955 Hits)
by Tom Chartier "By what process", asks Mr. Churchill, "could the slaughter of ten million men and the destruction of...
Israeli Politics of ‘Archeology’ in Jerusalem (6402 Hits)
by Nicola Nasser The Israeli arrogance of being the regional military super power, unequivocally backed by the U.S. world super power, is...


Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites
Trackback(0)
Comments (0)add comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

adsense

Top