Four years ago this week, BP's Deepwater Horizon drill platform exploded. Eleven workers died that day. Their bodies were never found. Over the next 87 days, 210 million gallons of oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico. It fouled fishing grounds, ravaged the coastline, and shut down tourism. The world got an ugly look at some of the terrible hidden costs of fossil fuels. Spill-related health problems plague the people and the wildlife of the Gulf to this very day. I personally hoped that we, as a nation, would quickly learn from this tragedy and move swiftly to prevent a repeat disaster in our most vulnerable coastal environments. So it boggles the mind that Shell Oil is still determined to drill in one of the most fragile and remote ecosystems on Earth: the Arctic Ocean -- the last bastion of America's polar bears, endangered bowhead whales and other rare wildlife.
If the CIA becomes regarded as monstrous and out of control by not just the usual critics but also by much of the mainstream in the U.S. and around the world -- and they are on that cusp right now -- some of the most important tools in protecting the United States and its interests short of war become, at best, decidedly double-edged swords.
EPA has the opportunity to protect both a unique natural resource and an economic powerhouse. It has the scientific basis, legal authority, and moral responsibility to protect Bristol Bay. And that's exactly what this diverse coalition of Alaska Natives, subsistence, commercial and sports fishermen, lodge owners, faith leaders and environmental groups will tell EPA next week.