I am from the Gulf coast. When proposals for offshore oil development were being discussed in the Bush years many described it as muddy and already polluted but growing up surfing and fishing in the Gulf it was always vibrant and alive. Its warm water and grassy, muddy beaches were full of crabs, shrimp, sand sharks, tube worms, sand dollars, rays, jellyfish, squid, dolphin, mullet, umbrella fish, sea anemones, oysters, sea turtles and hundreds of species of birds my favorite being the sandpiper. It was always a wonderland of pools and swamps. As a kid I spent days sometimes weeks sifting through the waist deep water finding life I had never seen before. There were always refineries in the background, and at night flames would leap from the stacks burning off excess gas, but the water and beaches were always teaming with life. It was muddy because of the mouth of the Missouri or further up the coast the Mississippi river not because it was 'dirty.' I am sure many people prefer crystal blue water and white sand beaches but I will always love the shallows and mudflats of the Gulf.
BP has recently released 'good news'. A siphon system is sucking out as much as a fifth of the oil pouring into the gulf. The best case scenario is that in several weeks the siphon will be able to divert almost 50 percent of the oil and in a few months (again in the best case scenario) a combination of synthetic oil muds (themselves highly toxic) and concrete pumped from newly drilled relief wells will permanently cap the well. Lets do a little math. Estimates by BP put the amount of oil being released at 210,000 gallons a day. If they reduce that to half that is 105,000 gallons a day. So over 3 million gallons of oil will gush into the Gulf per month until it is capped. If capping occurs with no 'hiccups' that is at least 9 million more gallons of oil released before this is all over.
So far BP's only promise is that they will not reopen this particular well. However, they have refused to make any commitments regarding the reserve more generally. There is nothing to stop them drilling a new well in virtually the same spot. This will not be the last catastrophe nor are Democrats free from blame. But 8 years of sabotaging renewable research, the removal of Clinton's executive ban on offshore oil development by Bush, and since Ronald Reagan a general disregard for public transportation infrastructure and public investment in non-market based solutions to resource management are captured in the reckless furry with which Republicans chanted for drilling. Drill baby drill is not just a demand for oil. The fervor represents the Republican party's general disregard for anything that stands in the way of profit. Drill baby drill is the slogan for a bacchanalia of human and ecological exploitation. I hope that before the midterms these clips from the last Republican national campaign are played and circulated as often as possible. This spill will not just hurt fuzzy owls. Fishing, tourism, agriculture, entire ways of being in the world for people that have lived on the Gulf for generations are being and will be destroyed.
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