Neighborhood gas and service stations are largely a thing of the past: the large-scale convenience store located on main drags or interstate off-ramps seems to have replaced them. Just because the businesses are gone doesn’t mean the buildings are, though, and many of these older structures have unique architectural and design features. Might make for a good business location with some renovation, but a home? It would take an artist’s eye to transform such a structure into a place someone wanted to live.
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.
Heard much about the BP oil spill lately? Nope, me either… once the oil stopped spewing, the news also seemed to dry up. Time to move on, right… after all, there are crazy pastors in Florida to interview.
Not so fast.
Photo from the Louisiana shores (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) Karl is once again furious — I went back to New Orleans… without him. I was going down to check out the BP command center outside of Houma, LA, and do some digging around — I had heard stories of strippers, hookers, mud wrestling… you…
The current oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico has further cemented Louisiana’s image as an “oil state” in the public mind… and as someone who grew up there, I can attest this isn’t a myth. Yet while arguments continue over the role offshore oil drilling should play in the state’s economy, Louisiana has also moved quietly, but decisively, into the solar age. The state features generous tax incentives for home solar installation, and, in 2009, became one of the first to establish a statewide property-assessed clean energy financing (PACE) program.
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.
With the sunken Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig now potentially leaking 25,000 barrels of oil a day, and a projected clean-up cost of $5 billion, the thought that you may be able to help with this environmental and economic disaster may seem far-fetched. Yet numerous non-profits have mobilized in the face of this emergency, and they need your help. Some of the things you can do to support clean-up efforts:
Volunteer: Many groups are enlisting volunteers to contribute to clean-up efforts. If you’d like to lend a hand directly, you can sign up with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, The Sierra Club, the National Audubon Society, and Mobile Baykeeper. Obviously, these are just a few of the organizations looking for volunteers… several Facebook groups, and at least one website, have sprung up to coordinate these efforts.
While the 2009 Solar Decathlon officially wrapped up yesterday, the winners of the solar-powered home design competition were announced Friday morning. While sixteen of the twenty student teams hailed from the US, an international competitor took the gold: Team Germany received the highest number of points, and scored a repeat of its ’07 win.