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Blogging for the Gulf: It’s not over

December 3, 2010
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I consider myself a fairly active citizen when it comes to political awareness.  That said, it would probably be an understatement to say I’ve been generally frustrated with the state of the political process over the last 10 years, with a massive bump of cynicism in the last 18 months or so.  The Deepwater Horizon spill and the subsequent failure to react appropriately by the Obama Administration to what seemed fairly obviously to be a corrupt MMR and a malevolent corporate entity in BP was one thing.  That is all occurred not more than a month after a premature capitulation by Obama to oil interests in the form of the ill-considered and indefensible cancellation of the moratorium on drilling on the east coast was crushing on a very visceral level.  Frankly, it isn’t difficult to get me back in the frame of mind I held over most of the summer.

Neither should it be for you too, because it’s not over.  Not by a long shot.

In addition to the money BP was famously shamed into placing in a trust fund to parse out to individuals affected by their malfeasance, the oil giant will be fined by the government under the auspices of the Clean Water Act.  This is, in essence, the only legal recourse the government has to go after BP, so it is crucial that they get it right so that BP be rightly punished to the fullest extent of the law.  The penalty will be based on the estimated number of gallons of oil released over the period when the wellhead was broken (this is why you heard such divergent estimates, why BP hid the video feed of the broken wellhead for so long and why BP freely used dispersants in violation of specific admonitions by the EPA), and could end up as high as $21 billion.

Right now, this money will go into the treasury to be spent on who knows what, but it will surely not go to the Gulf Coast where it’s most urgently needed.  It probably goes without saying that that kind of dough would be crucial to the ability of environmental organizations to restore portions of the Gulf Coast, such that they’re able to.  A spill bill would require that the CWA penalty money go entirely to fund that environmental restoration.  So the proper appropriation of these funds is not only critical to the birds that use that part of the country, but also for the American citizens who rely on a thriving, functioning Gulf for their own well-being, from the seafood industry to the tourism trade.

As embarrassing as it is that Congress couldn’t pass an oil spill bill in the immediate aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe when public opinion was overwhelmingly on their side, it’s far more pressing now.  Because if they don’t do it during the lame duck session, it’s not likely to happen next year, or the year after, which would mean that Congress failed to address the biggest marine oil disaster in our history.  I think we all know that that would be completely unacceptable.  So if you have a few minutes, please consider the following:

Write your Senator urging them to pass a spill bill.  Audubon makes this exceptionally easy to do this with a sample letter that automatically delivers to your Senators.  And even though most of the text is spelled out for you, if you have time to add something personal it helps.  I can tell from experience that long form letters are rarely, if ever, read by staffers beyond ticking another mark in the “for spill bill” box so if there’s anything you are able to add to make your appeal more personal, that’s great, but the most important thing is to make sure your Senator knows this is an issue they cannot ignore.

Also, if you are a blogger, consider putting together a short post between now and Sunday encouraging your readers to do the same, If you do, please use the badge located above created specifically for this drive in your post or on your blog.  You can also send those posts to me at naswick (at) gmail (dot) com where I can compile them for the NBN blog so they can be stored in perpetuity.

At the very least, let your elected officials know that you remember Deepwater Horizon, because BP desperately wants you to forget and it’s too important to sweep under the rug.  The people and ecosystems of the Gulf Coast will be dealing with the fallout for a long time, the least we can do is make sure the means to do it right are there for them.

Thanks.

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