After the massive oil spill off the coast of Louisiana my friend, Stephanie Kovac, an award winning television producer and director of the highly acclaimed documentary "Tide Of Tears: The Collapse of the Cajun Coast" felt compelled to write the following Op-Ed column.
Believe me she knows of what she speaks. For years this daughter of the Gulf Coast has been studying the history of the area and struggling to document how the man-made misuse and natural erosion of the Louisiana Coast is literally destroying an area rich in heritage and fertile in products mankind needs.
Then came the horrific BP oil spill, belching out even more destruction along her beloved home state coast.
Who's to blame for the environmental disaster? Please read this very important piece from Stephanie Kovac. You'll see there's plenty of blame to go around ~ Diane Dimond
The Mississippi Gulf Coast - the place I call home - is staring directly into the face of catastrophic certainty. A man-made disaster the likes of which the world has never seen. And, for weeks, perhaps months on end, nothing can be done to save it.
As British Petroleum's guzzler spews an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil per day into the Gulf, many are already pointing fingers, asking why the oil giant isn't doing more to stop the leak.
However, BP isn't the only entity with blood on its hands. The United States government controls the waters in the Gulf of Mexico - the same government that granted the offshore leases to the drilling giants. The same government that announced last March it was opening areas of the eastern Gulf and the Atlantic to offshore drilling then sheepishly recanted 20 days later, after the BP explosion.
But, the blame doesn't stop there. Every American in this country needs to take a long hard look at the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico because we are all responsible. We are the only species that will destroy what we have in an effort to get what we think we need. No one is more capable of utter destruction in the pursuit of what he wants than man.
Americans want their gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles and one ton trucks and we don't want to be bothered with the details of how we're going to acquire what we need to fill the tank. We only gripe and moan when we have to pay more than two dollars a gallon for it.
So, shouldn't we Americans be damn proud of the find BP made? According to the Washington Times, "BP has not said how much oil is beneath the Gulf seabed Deepwater Horizon was tapping, but a company official speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the volume of reserves, confirmed reports that it was tens of millions of barrels."
The Times continues that same tens of millions of barrels is now "a frightening prospect to many." Ask any third generation oysterman who will no longer be raking in those bands of gold what fear is. Ask any shrimper whose boat is now docked at the start of the season what fear is. Ask any wildlife rescue group who will be unable to save hundreds of thousands of migratory birds from certain death what fear is.
The bayou people of south Louisiana have been forced to share the wetlands they depend on for survival with the oil giants for years - sold out by state legislators who were supposed to be "looking out for the little guy" but were bought by big oil along the way.
Today, Louisiana produces 25 percent of the nation's oil and gas. At the same time, more than 300 species of migratory birds seek refuge in the coastal wetlands every spring and fall, stopping to feed, rest and mate. In addition, one third of America's seafood comes from coastal Louisiana. It is also home to one of the largest oyster beds in the world.
But, the ten thousand miles of oil canals that crisscross the fresh water marsh are funneling in lethal salt water from the Gulf and accelerating the end of this fragile freshwater environment. A football field of land is lost every fifty minutes... leaving behind a defenseless coast.
Every 2-point-3 miles of wetland absorbs one foot of storm surge. 1900 square miles of the Louisiana coast have been lost in the last 75 years. The greatest fear after hurricane Katrina was that another 700 would vanish in the next 40 years if nothing was done. And, then came the Deepwater Horizon blast. The greatest fear now is that there will be nothing left to lose.
The bayou people have been engaged in a balancing act with big oil since the 1970s. They have struggled to co-exist while watching the land they love erode away. And, all the while they have shouted on deaf ears that Louisiana was paying too high a price to provide fuel and heat to the rest of the nation.
Since Katrina, more than 50-thousand fishing jobs have been lost. In a sad twist of fate, many fishermen were forced to take jobs with the oil companies. It was a way to make ends meet, working for those who raped the land they loved.
The BP disaster may ultimately change the way of life in south Louisiana forever. And, some believe the oil giant has agreed to hire the local fishermen to help in the clean up only as a means of offering them hush money. After all, big oil is big money. And, no one is going to bite the hand that feeds. They can't afford to, not in one of the poorest states in the country.
So, the next time you dine out only to find seafood is no longer on the menu... or balk at the price at the pump... or turn up the heat to make your home more comfortable... remember, we are all responsible for the disaster in the Gulf. Perhaps it's time Americans stopped believing that exploring any other option will be the end of us. Perhaps it's time we stopped pointing fingers at every other man except the one in the mirror.
Diane Dimond can be reached through her web site: www.DianeDimond.com
Stephanie Kovac can be reached through her production company: firstname.lastname@example.org
I strongly urge a donation to WishCraft Productions so Stephanie can continue the important job of documenting the literal destruction of the Cajun people and the Cajun coastline.