Oil’s a natural substance, right? A little bit can’t hurt you. That seems to be the position of those pushing for a return to pre-BP oil spill levels of oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. And the spill itself: that was so two years ago. Everything’s fine now.
bp oil spill
It’s Valentine’s Day, and even if you think its an overhyped “holiday” designed to get you spending money on cards, flowers, and candy, you’re probably not going to ignore it – could get lonely otherwise! The organizations that contribute to the Restore the Mississippi River Delta campaign hope you’ll share a little love with the Gulf of Mexico, also: while the BP Oil Spill seems eons ago, February may be the month in which BP settles with the Justice Department on fines related to the spill, and the numbers could top $20 billion. Without specific legislation, though, that money could be swallowed up by the federal budget, with little or none of it going to restore and support the states damaged by the months-long spill.
When the BP oil spill was in full force last year, I was disappointed about the way the spill was being portrayed as a one-off disaster, instead of what it really was: the latest chapter in the degradation of the Gulf of Mexico. Yes, we had to clean up the spill, but we also had to look at the bigger picture of agricultural pollution, dredging wetlands to create canals for the oil and petrochemicals industries, and other actions that endangered coastal and marine ecosystems. These observations were necessary for the environmental health of the Gulf, as well as its continued productivity for sustainable human use.
During last year’s BP oil spill, I noted in several different venues that, as someone who grew up on the Gulf Coast, I saw this disaster as another chapter in a long history of active degradation of coastal environments. The spill itself deserved the attention it received… but I also hoped that it would bring the decades of destruction into focus.
As I noted in a post last year, musicians in Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast have worked as hard as anyone to keep last year’s Deepwater Horizon explosion, and the subsequent oil spill, in the public mind. This week, as we celebrate Earth Day, and mark the one year anniversary of the disaster in the Gulf, musicians will again go to work to memorialize those killed in the explosion, and to raise awareness of the ongoing struggle with oil and dispersant pollution faced by coastal residents.
Okay, we know that the oil spill is BP’s problem, but that doesn’t entirely explain why so few people are eager to help out with the relief effort. It may not be the sexiest of world disasters, but a disaster it is. So here’s one way to help out: 20% of all proceeds from Oil Spill Condoms will be donated to help rebuild the Gulf Coast, via the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund. Oil Spill Condoms’ goal is to raise $50,000. And yes, in case you were wondering, the condoms are black. And lubricated. (The site is rife with cringe-worthy puns on everything from spilling to drilling. Let’s just leave it at that.) You can actually use the condoms, too, unlike so many novelty condoms: These ones are the FDA-approved Lifestyles Tuxedo brand.
The glove-covered hands of Dan Howells, deputy campaign director with Greenpeace, are coated with a layer of oil after he dipped them in oil floating on the surface in the Gulf of Mexico following the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill near Grand Isle, Louisiana, June 10, 2010. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Like most Americans, I am horrified by the unending catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. Even with the latest containment cap in place, oil is likely to hemorrhage from BP’s ruptured well until August or beyond.
As I try to convey in my new video, “The Fix,” I am appalled by what this spill is doing to Gulf fishermen, families, communities and wildlife. But I am also disgusted by what it reveals about the oil industry’s role in American political life.
With their deep pockets, oil companies have purchased loose safety regulations, slack oversight and support from key lawmakers. Last year alone, the industry spent a $168 million on lobbying — $16 million of which came from BP. The blowout on the Deepwater Horizon is a symptom of this undue influence.
It is time for the collusion to stop. As long as it continues, Americans will pay the price in the form of devastated ecosystems and a fossil fuel addiction that benefits oil companies, not ordinary citizens.
A sign warns the public away from the beach on May 23, 2010 on Grand Isle, Louisiana. With oil covering many of the beaches, officials closed them to the public indefinitely on Saturday. Officials now say that it may be impossible to clean the coastal wetlands affected by the massive oil spill that continues gushing…