“You simply cannot make more (reefs), unless you have a few thousand years to wait.” ~ Doug Rader, chief ocean scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund

  

Laughing Gull Coated in Heavy Oil

  

“The insufferable arrogance of human beings to think that Nature was made solely for their benefit, as if it was conceivable that the sun had been set afire merely to ripen men’s apples and head their cabbages.” ~ Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac, États et empires de la lune, 1656
Oil-Coated Brown Pelican Floating Near Grand Terre Island

Forty-five days ago (April 20, 2010), a catastrophic explosion at Deepwater Horizon set into motion this country’s worst environmental disasters. I have yet to write about the oil spill not because I do not care about what is happening, but because I am so enraged that I cannot gather my thoughts into a cogent post that is nothing more than ranting. But I suppose what really set me off and got me to post finally is the latest from Sarah Palin on the spill. With her usual flow of illogic—which I have stopped trying to analyze—Palin blames extreme environmentalists for the massive spill:  

With [environmentalists’] nonsensical efforts to lock up safer drilling areas, all you’re doing is outsourcing energy development, which makes us more controlled by foreign countries, less safe, and less prosperous on a dirtier planet. Your hypocrisy is showing. You’re not preventing environmental hazards; you’re outsourcing them and making drilling more dangerous.  

Extreme deep water drilling is not the preferred choice to meet our country’s energy needs, but your protests and lawsuits and lies about onshore and shallow water drilling have locked up safer areas. It’s catching up with you. The tragic, unprecedented deep water Gulf oil spill proves it.  

That’s right, Palin. It’s the environmentalists, you know, the same ones who claim that there is global warming. Preposterous, right? I mean, it did snow this past winter, didn’t it?  

“I do not think there should be a limit on the rig’s liability, because they are sitting on top of unlimited amounts of oil, and thus, there could be an explosion occur that could do untold damage . . . The amount of damage that an offshore oil rig can do is infinite.” ~ John Chafee, Senate Floor Debate (3 August 1989)
Dying Young Heron Amidst Oil in Barataria Bay

Stinking statistics and ridiculous rhetoric related to Gulf oil spill:  

  •  U.S. Geological Survey Director Marcia McNutt recently stated that two separate teams of scientists calculated the leak to be between 504,000 and more than a million gallons a day. Original estimates were 210,000 gallons a day
  • Picture this: If 39 million gallons of oil has spilled, the oil would fill enough jugs to stretch from the Louisiana marshes to Prince William Sound in Alaska. That’s where the Exxon Valdez ran aground in 1989, spilling nearly 11 million gallons.
  • According to a report by the Interior Department’s Inspector General, Mineral Management Service Employees, those tasked with oversight of offshore drilling,  allowed industry officials to fill in their own inspection reports, accepted gifts of meals and tickets to sporting events from oil and natural gas companies, and viewed porn on government computers. Not surprisingly, Minerals Management Service Director Elizabeth Birnbaum stepped down from the job she has held since July 2009.
  • According to BP CEO Tony Hayward, “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.”
  • Also from Hayward:  “I think the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to have been very, very modest.”
  • And of course, there’s the pity card: “What the hell did we do to deserve this?” and then this gem: “There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I’d like my life back.” Oh. Poor baby.
  • Spill workers have been falling ill with flu-like symptoms, which has led to concerns about hazards and whether or not the workers may be affected adversely because they are not being provided with enough protective equipment, as many in the Gulf have been spotted without goggles or respirators.
  • In response to the hospitalization of seven workers, humanitarian Hayward questioned the cause of their sickness: “I’m sure they were genuinely ill, but whether it had anything to do with dispersants and oil, whether it was food poisoning, or some other reason for them being ill.”
  • In the Florida panhandle and on nearby Alabama beaches, waves of gooey tar blobs have been washing ashore
  • On the too obscene not to be true, a website has gone up so that people can bet on which species become extinct first. No. I’m not providing the link.
“Because we don’t think about future generations, they will never forget us.” ~ Henrik Tikkanen

Perhaps the most gut-wrenching aspect of this whole thing is that even when BP finally manages to stop the oil flow, the ramifications will continue for years. Economically and environmentally, this spill will wreak havoc for decades. Need proof? A 2001 survey by NOAA surveyed 96 sites along 8,000 miles of coastline and found that a total area of approximately 20 acres of shoreline in Prince William Sound are still contaminated with oil. This was 12 years post Exxon Valdez spill.  

  

River of Crude Oil Floating atop the Gulf (aerial picture 6-2-10)

  

I had wanted to include an incredible slide show that I found on Huffington Post, but could not figure out how to get that show into this post. The best I can do is to offer the link: Gulf Oil Spill (PHOTOS): Animals In Peril.  (If anyone knows how to embed a slide show, directions would be lovely.)

Oh. And just because, I must include that “Drill Baby Drill” mantra that Palin loves . . .

Ignorance must indeed be bliss. I can think of no other reason why this woman smiles so much.  

That’s all for now. The Internet is acting up and may be getting ready to go away. I just wanted to get this post up tonight.  

More later. Peace.  

Music by Cyann & Ben, “A Moment Nowhere”  

From Mudflats on Sarah Palin and Supreme Court Decisions

Many thanks to Mudflats for this wonderful post. Please visit http://mudflats.wordpress.com/2008/10/02/palin-v-supreme-court/ for the original:

Sigh… Palin can’t name a single Supreme Court case other than Roe v. Wade. Not one. Now, there might be some reasonably intelligent people out there who can’t rattle off a long list of Supreme court decisions. And, picking one you don’t agree with while you’re on the spot might not be easy for most Americans either. Granted most Americans are not running to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency, but even if we cut Palin a little slack here, I’ll tell you why we shouldn’t. And I’ll tell you why this particular gaffe makes the blood of many Alaskans run cold.

The first time I watched this clip, I chuckled. Then it hit me. It hit me like a smack in the face with a dead fish.

Below is part of a piece I wrote back in June, when a Supreme Court ruling came down in a case known as Baker v. Exxon. Most of you will recall the devastating oil spill that occurred in Alaska in 1989 when the supertanker Exxon Valdez slammed into Bligh Reef, pouring 11 million gallons (some say over 30 million gallons) of crude oil into the pristine waters of Alaska’s Prince William Sound. Many of those in Alaska at the time probably either know someone affected, or were themselves affected personally by the spill. Many of you who were out of state, cut up your Exxon credit cards, watched footage of oil-soaked otters and sea birds, and deeply mourned the loss of a place you’d never even seen.

The Alaska Natives in the area, and those who fished the Sound lost their livelihoods, and their ‘holy place’. The loss on many levels cannot be overestimated. Today, in 2008, if you dig down about 8 inches into the sandy beaches of many islands in the Sound you will find thick black crude oil.

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Screwed. (originally posted on Mudflats 6/25/08)

Well, the extremely predictable ruling came down from the U.S. Supreme Court today. In a 5-3 vote the court decided to hack and slash the original $5 billion settlement, which had already been hacked and slashed to $2.5 billion in punitive damages. Now the Supreme Court says the amount owed to Prince William Sound fishermen and Alaska Natives affected by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill is $507.5 million.

First, condolences to the 32,677 plaintiffs, their families, and all those affected by the spill who have been waiting and watching for almost 20 years, while lawyers get fat sucking on the marrow of the oil soaked bones littering the beaches of Prince William Sound. This was hard to take for ALL Alaskans, but for the plaintiffs, and all those who love the Sound, it was twisting the knife.

Second, to all those people who have bought into the idea that the oil companies have been good to Alaska by donating to charities, sponsoring sporting events, and plastering their logos on anything that doesn’t move (and some things that do), listen closely. They. Don’t. Care. Exxon has been fighting this since the moment the $5 billion was awarded to plaintiffs in 1994. Think that’s a lot of money? It’s not. Exxon’s recorded profits last year were $40.6 Billion. That’s PROFIT. Doesn’t make $507.5 million sound particularly punitive, does it? If the health, well-being and welfare of the Alaska people mattered to Exxon Mobil, these people would have been paid 13 years ago. So when you see the oil companies doing something that looks ‘nice’, remember it’s the cost of doing business to shut us up.

Third, any Alaskans who are outraged by this announcement today, and are still planning to vote Republican in the upcoming presidential race – wake up. Who were the only supreme court justices voting with the Alaska people and against the interest of corporations? The progressives. Who were the ones that voted against the interest of Alaska? Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, & crew – those conservative judges that John McCain wants more of when he appoints the next 2 or 3 members of the court. Presidents are gone in four to eight years; Supreme Court Justices last a lifetime. A court like this is what we get when so many of us swallow the red Kool-Aid, and don’t think about the political ramifications of our votes to our own interest when the chips are down. So, in November, think. Please.

By the time all is said and done a huge portion of the $507.5 million has evaporated with the shrinking value of the dollar since 1989, another huge portion went to the lawyers, 8000 of the plaintiffs are dead, and the Sound has still not recovered, and won’t in our lifetime. They got about 10% of the oil, they think. Sometimes in life, you get a cheap lesson…this wasn’t one of those times.

Don’t forget this when they tell you Pebble Mine won’t destroy the Bristol Bay fishery. Don’t forget this every time we negotiate with the oil companies about anything. Don’t forget this every time you see a warm fuzzy TV commercial. Don’t forget that anyone who is in our state to develop finite natural resources is here for the money. Period. And don’t forget this when you vote in November.

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Since that post, Exxon has reminded us that this $507.5 million figure is actually the upper limit of what they owe. And they are also balking at paying interest on that money. They are stalling, because they are literally waiting for plaintiffs to die.

So, I ask you, Sarah Palin, as the Governor of Alaska, a state whose land, water, wildlife and people have been ground under the wheels by corporate oil interests, backed up by a conservative Supreme Court put there by your party, is THIS one of those Supreme Court cases that you also disagree with? Or did you just forget about it?