Anger over British Petroleum’s oil gushing into the Gulf Of Mexico has swept through the public and the environmental community like a fire storm. Pictures of oil coated sea birds, dead Hermit crabs, and lines of dead jelly fish with oil seen in their bells flood the media. And that’s only the beginning. Gunk is settling on the oyster beds and strangling the shrimp. There are 1400 t0 1600 Sperm Whales living year round in the gulf, not to mention dolphins and Atlantic bluefin tuna. No one can say what will happen to them as they swim through and ingest the oily water nor how many sea animals have already died, been scavenged or sunk to the bottom of the ocean.
In addition, the coastal wetlands are home to numerous predator mammals. It is apparently unknown what effect eating dead pelicans and fish coated with oil will have on bobcats, opossum, beaver, coyote, muskrat, raccoon and mink. Some scientists believe that the coastal environment will be permanently altered and wholly degraded.
People living in the area have been sorely affected, their livelihood as well as their way of life facing destruction. In many, anger, anxiety and despair have become fear and depression.
The blame game as already begun but spare me Sean Hannity’s “Obama’s Katrina” line. Joe Klein wrote in Time Magazine last week that “. . . it was actually George W. Bush’s second Katrina. Vice President Dick Cheney, fresh from his days at Halliburton, had presided over the weakening of drilling regulations, including the exclusion of remote-shut-off switches, which might have prevented the disaster.” The Bush Administration’s Minerals Management Service literally climbed in bed with the oil companies, their regulators taking gifts and having sex with oil company employees.
If President Obama hadn’t been so busy dealing with the Bush induced financial crisis, acquiring health care for the people of the United States, and smoothing foreign policy relations, maybe he would have recognized the perhaps criminal laxness of the Minerals Management Service in “collecting the royalties due the government for the right to extract oil from public lands, (or that it wasn’t) fulfilling its rig-inspection responsibilities.”
However, now it is time for us to think about Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, the 24 million migrating birds that arrive on the Louisiana coast each spring and the 8300 other creatures at risk in the Gulf of Mexico.