Saturday, June 19, 2010

Rescue the Gulf !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There is an axiom utilized by many people that if you don't have anything constructive to add politically just up the ante of your favorite political party or publicly posture your indignation and scream louder than everyone else. People who advocate nationalization of BP are folks who come to the disaster with their own preconceived notions of the importance of public (read "governmental") control and jump in at every opportunity to present the same solution for every social ill or disaster. These folks would do well to learn that priorities need to be addressed in resolving any given situation. They would also do better to learn from previous experiences in regards to their proposed agenda.

In the case of the BP deep water oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico, it would benefit all to recall the example of the PEMEX gusher in the Gulf in 1979. This nationalized oil company has the current record for the worst pollution of the Gulf that the Deep Horizon is trying to surpass. No claims were paid by PEMEX for the damages done to coastal areas and aquatic life. Zero. We might also recall the PEMEX gasoline leak that exploded in Guadalajara in 1992. The explosions crushed to death 206 people; injured 1,460 people; damaged 1,148 buildings; and destroyed 350 businesses and 505 vehicles. Eight government officials were jailed. In 1984, 500 people were killed by a natural gas explosion at PEMEX facilities in Mexico City.

One thing we accept as Greens is that "Money cannot buy everything". It cannot buy dead zones in the Gulf and transform them. It cannot restore the tidal basin and marshland ecosystems. It cannot replace the dead flora and fauna and it cannot bring back the sea life that so many are dependent on for their livelihood. The point right now is to demonstrate the capability of cleanup NOW. The point is to utilize the resources of the world community and send a 9-1-1 for the Gulf. The point now is to stop the gusher.

Government regulation did not prevent the financial crisis or the housing bubble. Why is it presumed to be anymore effective in addressing the environmental problems? At issue are the U.S. energy policy and the abysmal failure of the Minerals Management Service in enforcing regulations already in place. The corporate domination of the government does not end the day the government seizes the corporations. Audrey Clement, co-chair of the Green Party's Eco-Action Committee has indicated: "The fact of the matter is that the U.S. government bears the most responsibility for the disaster, having granted BP a categorical exclusion (CE) that exempted it from filing an environmental impact statement on the controversial project entailing the drilling of a 30,000 foot well 5,000 feet under. Exempting BP from filing an EIS constitutes a blatant violation of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, but the blame lies with MME, not BP. After all BP just applied for the CE, but MME granted it."

Whether through fault or folly, the Obama administration remains lurching from one option to the next with no solutions in sight. The fact is that this is an international problem that impacts the entire planet and not just the fishermen of Louisiana or the resorts on the coast of Florida. As such, the resources needed to address the ongoing gusher's impacts on the Gulf's ecosystems need to be made the priority.

Our work is to establish the political mechanisms needed that recognize the inherent corruption of the governments in our states and the Federal government and establish ones that substantively address the issues of who is making the decisions and why. Our priority is to mobilize emergency responses that are effective and massive in scope and scale. The political issue is that the incrementalist approach towards energy transition will perpetually put us behind the eight-ball in situations like this. The structural reforms needed means transforming the administrative and political mechanisms that currently shape policy.

As stated before, we have seen the failure of "government regulation". We have seen the failure of "Drill, baby, drill!" What we have not seen are the political, administrative, technical and scientific resources of the world focused on our common problem. We have seen how Nigeria has failed to update pipelines to prevent spills and how this has impacted on the people and the environment. We have seen how oil was spilled into the Persian Gulf by Saddam Hussein and oil wells were blown up in the war for oil. We have seen how BP is unable to put the oil genie back in the bottle, as the worst case scenario becomes reality.

There are enough attorneys in the United States who will spend their time litigating and focusing on BP's culpability in the gusher. Our most overriding message is that the damage being done to the Gulf now is irreparable and our priority task is to stop the gusher and mobilize the kind of resources needed for cleanup, containment, animal rescue and capping the hole on the sea floor. The damage is ongoing and worsening. It cannot be "undone".

Setting up an eco-emergency response corps that includes state national Guards, state and federal labs, international cooperation and volunteers ready to pitch in is the spirit of being Green. The extent of the response of the Obama administration has not been sufficient to demonstrate any effectiveness. There needs to be demonstrated a national and international response that is commiserate to the task at hand. No studies but applied solutions. No promises but a demonstrated, effective effort in the tasks at hand.

As the scale of responses needed to respond to our dependence of oil escalate exponentially, our response needs to be predicated on making the hard decisions needed to transition to renewable energy sources. As a people, Americans are made empty promises daily by politicians and public officials. The day is past when these are sufficient given the scale and scope of problems that we are faced with in the future. We need to understand the many of the problems we face are the products of our own actions.

This is how Greens are distinguished from the duopoly parties. We already know the problems that we can anticipate in the future and are prepared to develop the mechanisms needed to maintain the earth's eco-systems. We present a distinct voice in the political arena of the United States. It’s time to listen, to learn and to act with decisiveness. Solutions won’t be any easier in the future, but at the least, we can work on them without the disproportional influence of the corporations shaping policies and tying the hands of public officials.