The sticky, hot oil was so deep that my boots sank three inches and nearly came off when I took my next step.
Where the beach looked clean, I let my eyes follow baby crabs a foot more on shore where I saw the wall of debris and grass saturated four inches deep with thick, reddish-brown oil.
Last Thursday marked one month since the Deepwater Horizon exploded, killing 11 people and setting in motion an unfolding, unprecedented disaster in the U.S.
What was so unsettling in the Gulf was that when I was down there I couldn’t tell where President Obama began and BP ended. Greenpeace boats full of reporters were physically blocked by the coastguard and forbidden to take pictures of the oil on the beach. When asked why, the coast guard staff replied: “It’s not our policy. It’s BP’s policy.” The President’s response to the spill, until yesterday when Lisa Jackson demanded that the toxic dispersants be replaced (kudos to her for this), has seemed like a page out of BP’s playbook of focusing on image damage control as much as oil spill damage control. He has not batted an eye in defending further off-shore oil drilling and has withheld from the publicthe scale of the problem.
I was heartened to hear that the President called for truck mile per gallon standards be upgraded and that fuel economy standards should be strengthened in the long-run for regular cars. The big question is if the President will virtually phase out the use of oil in cars by 2030 or continue down Ken Salazar’s misguided drill baby drill policy.
The Coast Guard’s “Nightmare Scenario”
As leviathans of underwater oil move their way up the East Coast, President Obama is opening the door to what the Coast Guard called its “nightmare scenario” – drilling in the Arctic.
Shell Oil plans to begin exploratory drilling in Alaska’s Arctic Ocean this July. According to the Coast Guard, the pristine Chukchi and Beaufort Seas are extremely remote, freezing cold, covered in darkness for much of the year, and the water is incredibly choppy, making a spill a “nightmare.” The rig being shipped right now to the Arctic is older than the BP Deepwater rig that exploded. Regardless, President Obama and Secretary of Interior Salazar continue to push the interests of big oil companies.
This moment will require that the President do more than say that he is frustrated with BP and (rightly) pointing the finger. President Obama should ban all offshore oil drilling and call for an end to the use of oil in our cars by 2030.
Stopping Shell’s drilling plan would be a good, first indicator that the President is moving away from the Salazar-BP oil policy. Getting America’s cars and trucks off of oil by 2030 would prove that the President is finally actually leading.
Today Greenpeace activists took a stand on the ship the Harvey Explorer to send a message to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The activists used oil from the spill to paint the message “Arctic Next?” on the bridge of the ship, which is scheduled to depart for Alaska to support drilling operations in July.