JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Can we eat and drink oil after it poisons our food supply?
The other day I received a letter from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) written by senior attorney Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. which asked for contributions to overturn the White House's decision to allow Shell to drill off the fragile coastline of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge this summer.
I received the NRDC letter after reading Dahr Jamail's report at Truthout.org on the ongoing health problems from the BP Gulf oil spill: "The 4.9million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf last year was the largest accidental marine oil spill in history, affecting people living near the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Seemingly compounding the problem , BP has admitted to using at least 1.9 million gallons of toxic dispersants, which are banned by many countries, including the UK. According to many scientists, these dispersants create an even more toxic substance when mixed with crude oil."
Clearly, no lessons learned after BP's devastating Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which is becoming an ever-widening dead zone. When an oil spill happens in the Arctic, and it will, what then? The deeper the drilling, especially in the Arctic's icy, dangerous waters, higher risks of blowouts are expected to occur. It's misleading, in my opinion, to characterize the BP Gulf spill as an "accident". The evidence is overwhelmingly in-that it was a case of gross negligence.
How is it that two or three men can make a decision that puts at risk the entire pristine Arctic, including the magnificent sea animals from polar bears to whales, and our own health without the public's consent? That's easy to answer, if we could vote on whether or not to drill off the Arctic, it would be flatly rejected by a majority. In a real democracy, we would be able to vote on oil drilling projects such as the Keystone tar sands pipeline. Who gave a single man the power to determine the fate of our national treasures: in this case, the Arctic's pristine coastline? This is not abuse of power: this is assuming power that never belonged to them in the first place, and deciding our fate on whether or not we'll survive. Speaking directly: We can't eat or drink oil.
Incidentally, did the President ask Shell for anything in return to support the country, such as making Shell pay royalties, or taxes to lower the national debt? Keep in mind that the oil industries together earn close to a trillion dollars a year in profits. No, he simply handed over the Arctic coastline, unconditionally. Oh wait, he did ask for something in return: campaign contributions. Obama, to his credit, asked congress to end oil industry subsidies, but he knew it's a futile request, given that this congress is dripping in oil. True, Romney will probably approve oil drilling on every inch of land and water, which explains the gloomy mood of voter despair and cynicism.
As for rebuilding a green infrastructure that replaces polluting sources of energy, there remains the long established myth that oil drilling produces lots of jobs while clean energy companies are economic failures. This myth has been heavily circulated and funded by the oil industry through political organizations, elected officials supported by the oil industry, and through media networks.
If every drop of oil suddenly vanished off the face of the earth, watch how fast all the eco-energy companies would rush in to fill the gap with thousands of jobs to go around. The same polluting industries have had a monopoly on energy sources since the 1800s. If clean energy companies aren't doing so well it's because the polluting industrialists have done everything in their financial power to keep them down.
The second myth is the oil industry's attempt to make pollution and global warming a divisive right-left political issue. However, pollution is no more a Republican or Democratic issue than eating contaminated food is a left or right issue.
If you can't earn a living from fishing in the Gulf of Mexico because the fish and shrimp are either dead or toxic, that is not a Republican or Democratic political issue. No one likes chemical toxins, poisons and pollution. Nevertheless, new energy efficient solutions that promote solar, wind and bio-fuels are criticized through right wing conservative media outlets as a threat to the economy, and as a liberal attack on U.S. jobs. The message across the public airwaves is: Oil drilling provides jobs, whereas, solar and wind and building electric charge stations for e-cars are doomed to fail. You can hear this message being repeated by the oil industry's foremost sleazy salesperson, Sarah Palin, on FOXTV.
The third myth is that gas prices will go down with more drilling. If you believe that one...The oil industry intends to sell what they steal from our national lands and oceans to foreign countries such as China and elsewhere for larger profits. Gas prices, if anything, will continue to go up, not down. "Rising gas prices will drive the popularity of hybrid cars -- and possibly, in time, electrics, too. Meanwhile, the oil industry is poised to profit as the global price for gas gushes higher." (MSNBC)
The truth is that the oil industry is doomed to fail because, unlike the sun, oil is a limited diminishing resource. Furthermore, it's becoming exceedingly complex and more threatening to our environment to extract than ever before, one more reason why gas prices will not go down. There are plenty of examples: Again, consider deep sea drilling such as BP's explosion with faulty equipment, or the process of extracting oil from tar sands, which is far more toxic and hazardous to the environment than even coal mining.
Despite the oil industry's efforts to oppress electric vehicle production, it was reported in the AP that "Consumers bought a record 52,000 gas-electric hybrids and all-electric cars in March, up from 34,000during the same month last year. Americans are buying record numbers of hybrid and electric cars as gas prices climb and new models arrive in showrooms, giving the vehicles their greatest share yet of the U.S. auto market."
The good news is that we can drive right around this corrupt, oil-covered government through consumer purchasing power. The fact that 52,000 electric hybrid cars sold last month proves that we can make the world a better place by supporting companies that support our philosophical convictions and our financial needs.