This morning, another Gulf Coast oil rig exploded within four months, injuring one oil rig worker. This comes at the heels of the April BP oil rig explosion off the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 people.
Given the tragic consequences of the April spill -- 11 dead workers, severe impacts on the fishing and shrimping industries, pollution of the coastlines of Louisiana, and hundreds of people out of work -- it's infuriating that the oil industry has done this again.
What this explosion reveals is that our oil addiction (80 million barrels a day in the U.S. alone) has unavoidably dangerous consequences. The only way to avoid tragedies like this moving forward is to reduce our dependency on oil and move toward sustainable sources of clean energy. We need to take personal responsibility for our consumption, and also hold our elected leaders accountable.
This week started with ire over the Senate's delay in bringing a climate bill to vote before the Senate recess. And the week ends with... ire over the Senate delaying in bringing a BP accountability and efficiency bill to the floor! The Senate can't even get 60 votes to pass a small, "no-carbon capping" bill with number of non-controversial measures that easily passed bi-partisan Senate subcommittees, like Home Star?
Last week, a million gallons of oil spilled into the Kalamazoo River in southwest Michigan. My wife grew up on that river. She recalls a childhood watching the ducks, egrets, and fish that populated the river just out her back door. We were married right along the river on a warm day in July fourteen years ago. For us, it was a symbol of the flow and continuity of life. My wife sobbed as we watched the news reports about the spill, knowing it may or may not converge into Lake Michigan and that the clean up is expected to take months.
Solar power is all over the news this week. President Obama announced a major influx of federal money into the solar industry, while Bill McKibben announced a campaign to get world leaders (including Obama) to lead by example on clean energy.
Earlier this week, legendary West Virginia Senator Robert C. Byrd passed away. It is unlikely that an environmental organization would have written positively about a pro-coal senator, but in recent years the late Senator Byrd realized the toll that the coal industry was taking on the environment and his beloved West Virginia. Robert C. Byrd, who once fought hard for coal mining and against regulating it in his early years, had an epiphany:
The industry of coal must also respect the land that yields the coal, as well as the people who live on the land. If the process of mining destroys nearby wells and foundations, if blasting and digging and relocating streams unearths harmful elements and releases them into the environment causing illness and death, that process should be halted and the resulting hazards to the community abated.
I really, really wish I didn't have to lead today's roundup with more on the BP oil disaster, but since the oil spill is now in its 46th day, I'm afraid I have no choice. I also wish I didn't have to nag you again about Lisa Murkowski (R-Exxon/BP/Shell/etc.) and her seek-and-destroy mission against the Clean Air Act, but you deal with the senators you have, not the ones you wish you had. Thankfully it's not all doom-and-gloom in Roundupville: this week we heard some of the strongest language in favor of a comprehensive climate and energy bill from President Obama than we've heard in awhile.
Yesterday I flew with SACE board member Enid Sisskin and former board member Michael O’Donovan, a professional photographer. Both are Gulf coast residents with a long history of fighting offshore drilling. We flew out of Gulf Shores, Alabama over the beautiful Gulf of Mexico to the site of this tragic oil disaster, where BP’s drill rig Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20. The site is located approximately 100 miles from Gulf Shores.