JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Turning God’s oceans into graveyards from oil drilling is an unspeakable evil.
- Jolene Matthews, Evangelist, Gulf of Mexico, Texas
The President of the United States is not supposed to put oil profits above our national security, our health, our democracy, and our resources that we rely on for our survival: our oceans, our forests, our water, our air, and our farmlands.
- Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Crimes against Nature
In my last Buzzflash at Truthout piece, Oil Kills Everything It Covers, I wrote about Plains All American’s horrific oil tragedy that happened on the 19th of May off Refugio Beach, north of Santa Barbara. It could have been prevented if Plains had installed a state-required automatic shut-off valve. But in the 1980s, Plains won a lawsuit that gave regulatory control of the company to the federal government, which didn’t require an automatic shut-off valve. Why? Security maintenance is “unprofitable”. Consequently, an estimated 105,000 gallons of crude oil gushed into the Pacific Ocean from a ruptured, eroding pipe. Tar balls are currently washing up on favorite, southern California beaches. In a twist of irony, angry reporters have been barred from inspecting the on-going damage, a blatant violation of their First Amendment rights. Talk about distorting the Bill of Rights, an oil corporation can exercise “freedom of speech and freedom of the press,” but apparently, those rights and protections are not afforded to individuals or journalists.
Many of these oil & gas pipelines are over 30 years old in the U.S. It should be a mandatory requirement to replace them all. Or better yet, replace fossil fuels with solar and wind energy. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said that “this oil spill off the Santa Barbara coast is tragic. This highlights the dangers posed by these pipelines and underscores why I have spent decades fighting against oil drilling off the California coast.” Plains’ long delay and clean-up response have been described as “shockingly insufficient.”
The heartbreaking part of this tragedy is that this oil spill is going to kill a lot of whales, dolphins, seabirds and much more:
Off California, massive forests of kelp—the largest type of marine algae—create “this really cool three-dimensional habitat that harbors a lot of biodiversity,” says Bob Miller, a marine biologist at UC Santa Barbara. The seaweed grows up to 130 feet tall and supports more than 800 species, including infant fish and invertebrates like crabs and snails. Bigger marine mammals like sea lions and otters often forage for food through the leaves. When kelp breaks loose and washes up on shore, arthropods and birds eat it. Seagulls, terns, and cormorants forage the beaches. About 19,000 gray whales migrate through the channel this time of year—sometimes as close as 100 feet from shore. And the rocky inter-tidal areas harbor sea anemones, soft corals, shrimp, muscles, crabs, and small fish. (Wired; What the Oil Spill Is Going to Kill) MORE