I'm still caught up in the oil spill swirl.And when I got an email from Bloggers Unite requesting that bloggers write about the gulf situation, I figured I'd join in and try to pull together something that would help me to feel better, and in turn, hopefully empower others as well. There are some things we can do.It's hard to know how to help or feel hopeful when I feel like one small inconsequential cog in the vast machine that keeps this country rolling. However, by living in the United States we are fortunate enough to actually be a part of that machine, no matter how small, and we have the right to speak our beliefs, take stands publicly, and persuade the leaders that we vote for as to how we want our vote to matter.That said, what can be done?Right now we are in crisis mode. We can't undo what's been done.If you are able to do hands on work and would like to volunteer this article at tonic.com is a full resource guide to groups that are on the ground right now, doing the work - from the National Audubon Society to The Seirra Club as well as a number of local organizations that provide training for the different clean up needs of the specific region. You may search for opportunities or register with specific states here.If you can't do the hands on thing, and can afford it, there is always the donation route. Either of the above two organizations are good ones. Another I support is Save Our Gulf, a part of the Waterkeepers Alliance, which allows you to find specific regions to help.But how do we avoid future disasters that cause vast destruction of life in all it's forms - human, animal, land and water? and how did this happen in the first place? Wouldn't you think we'd have precautions in place? you'd think...My outrage comes from knowing that this never should have happened. The safeguards that we do have in place to protect endangered species, failed us. (read this NY Times article excerpted below)Under the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Minerals Management Service is required to get permits to allow drilling where it might harm endangered species or marine mammals....(however, regarding permits needed)... ''The agency seems to think its mission is to help the oil industry evade environmental laws.''The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, is partly responsible for protecting endangered species and marine mammals. It has said on repeated occasions that drilling in the gulf affects these animals, but the minerals agency since January 2009 has approved at least three huge lease sales, 103 seismic blasting projects and 346 drilling plans. Agency records also show that permission for those projects and plans was granted without getting the permits required under federal law.I've learned that the agency has conflicting interests - not only is it responsible for regulating safety in off shore drilling, but it is also in charge of leasing tracts and collecting royalties that they produce on the outer continental shelf. It turns out the the MMS is second only to the IRS in generating revenue collected by our Treasury. That is a problem, no? So, how about flooding your Senator's offices with calls demanding that the MMS be help accountable for allowing unpermitted drilling to ever begin as well as demanding that their role be non-conflicted - collecting moneys OR regulating offshore drilling, but certainly not both.To find your Senator and their contact information click HERE.Demand that our government agencies and have integrity.
And while you're at it, how about letting them know that we are way too lax on demanding the safest, most reliable equipment available for our drilling. Brazil and many other countries require sonar activated shutoff valves in their oil wells, but people like Dick Cheney blocked that requirement - a little perk via Halliburton, which could have possibly made this whole event avoidable.
There is no doubt in my mind that our past administrations have helped to create the lax environment that led to this disaster, but it is also very clear, that this particular catastrophe is all BP. It gets no clearer then this, from CBS's 60 Minutes...
I am grateful to Mike Williams, for sharing his story and speaking his truth - such an amazing story of survival.
(click on images for closer view)