The Greatest Environmental Disaster of the Century: Turning Point or More to Come?


This Land Is Your Land - Woody Guthrie

 by Randy Shannon

April 30, 2010

The Deep Horizons ultra-deepwater dynamic positioned semi-submersible oil drilling rig, lying upside down a mile below sea level, was built and owned by Transocean Limited of Vernier, Switzerland. This rig was the most technologically advanced drilling machine on earth, designed to tap oil reserves miles below the ocean’s surface. It was completed in 2001 by Hyundai Heavy Industries in Ulsan, South Korea. British Petroleum was leasing the rig at a cost of one-half million dollars per day to exploit oil and gas trapped under tremendous pressure miles below.

Just as Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara thought that advanced technology would allow U.S. weaponry to defeat the people of Vietnam in the 1970s, the Wall Street banks now believe that current ‘advanced technology’ will allow them to tap unknown forces of nature…at a profit.

They justify this endeavor with the argument that exploiting natural resources always involves some endemic risk and that they are insured to protect their investors. Wall Street and their oil industry allies believe that, as in the past, disasters are a cost of business and that once the cleanup is done there will be a return to profitability.

Profits from deepwater drilling, as well as the fracking of the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania and New York, are projected to be enormous, to create dazzling new fortunes for those who are bold, hardy, and carefree enough to get there first. These expectations of great wealth from expensive and refractory resources are based on the knowledge that the world, but especially the United States, is rapidly using up, and to a great degree wasting, petroleum and gas reserves. As the reserves shrink and become more expensive to exploit, the push to find and exploit them intensifies.

In a rational self-governing society, the exploitation of these precious dwindling resources would be slowed in order to save for the future, while our enormous talents and energies are focused on developing and deploying alternative means of securing energy and more efficient ways of using it.

But the profit motive alone rules Wall Street, not rationality. This was so sadly illustrated by the untimely announcement by the Obama administration that offshore drilling would be expanded to the Atlantic coast of the United States. This decision was not based on the knowledge that vast untapped reserves lie waiting, because they don’t. This decision was not based on new developments in drilling technology that would make the threat to our coastline acceptable, because there are none. This decision was based on the power of the oil industry and Wall Street to pull the strings of their puppets in Congress to block legislation to promote alternative energy unless Obama made concessions to their greed.

In Pennsylvania we are experiencing the same powerful forces of greed running rampant across the state destroying our forests, our water, and our air in a mad rush to squeeze the gas from the Marcellus shale lying a mile below the surface. The gas drillers enjoy the “Halliburton Exemption” that was passed by the despicable puppet U.S. Congress of 2005. This law exempted only gas drilling from all environmental regulations. The Clean Water Act does not apply. The Safe Drinking Water Act does not apply. So drinking water is contaminated, streams and lakes are contaminated, plants and animals are poisoned. In this case, the technology exists to control the process so that it is safe. But the cost of buying the Republican legislators and the Democratic and Republican candidates for Governor Onorato, Wagner, and Corbett are much less than the cost of environmentally safe drilling.

The oil and gas companies are planning for more of the same. The devastation of the U.S coastal economies and the devastation of Pennsylvania countryside and towns is not their problem. It is our problem. This great environmental disaster should be a wakeup call for all of us. Only the voices of the people can make this a turning point that results in breaking the death grip of the carbon based energy industry on the government.

It is clear that the Bush era privatization of environmental enforcement must be reversed in the coal industry. Three more miners have died in two incidents since the explosion at the Massey mine in Montcoal, WV. We must demand that our Congresspersons and Senators investigate and cleanup the Mine Safety and Health Administration and pass laws with teeth and penalties that are real deterrents.

We must demand that our Congresspersons and Senators repeal the Halliburton exemption and order the EPA to enforce all environmental regulations that are impacted by the solid, fluid, and gas emissions of the shale drilling enterprises in Pennsylvania and other states. Adequate funding for scientific research and enforcement personnel must be provided.

Pennsylvanians should throw the Republican bums out of Harrisburg. They are completely at the beck and call of the gas drillers, working diligently as their public promoters. Democrats should vote for Joe Hoeffel, who is firmly in the camp of the property owners, sportsmen and women, and taxpayers of this state and will strictly regulate and tax the gas drillers.

Lastly, the U.S. should ban all deep offshore drilling on the coastal shelf. The oil is not worth destoying our coastal economies and our natural heritage along the shores of the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Pacific Oceans. President Obama is wrong when he says that offshore drilling can be done safely. He is only repeating an accepted lie.

We need an alternative energy Marshall Plan that can only be funded by ending the imperial oil war  in the Middle East. Lets fund these drillers to dig geothermal heating wells all across the nation to replace oil, coal, and gas heating. Geothermal heating is safe cheap and lasts forever.

This land is my land. This land is your land. This land was made for you and me.

Gulf Coast oil spill could eclipse Exxon Valdez


An Ocean of Fire Play Video ABC News  – An Ocean of Fire

Related Quotes
Symbol Price Change
BP 52.56 -4.78
CAM 38.70 -5.77
COP 59.10 +0.55
XOM 68.66 -0.53

// //

This April 28, 2010 photo released by Greenpeace, shows an aerial view of the Gulf of Mexico south of Louisiana, where oil leaking from the Deepwater AP – This April 28, 2010 photo released by Greenpeace, shows an aerial view of the Gulf of Mexico south of …

By CAIN BURDEAU and HOLBROOK MOHR, Associated Press Writers Cain Burdeau And Holbrook Mohr, Associated Press Writers 14 mins ago

VENICE, La. – An oil spill that threatened to eclipse even the Exxon Valdez disaster spread out of control with a faint sheen washing ashore along the Gulf Coast Thursday night as fishermen rushed to scoop up shrimp and crews spread floating barriers around marshes.

The spill was bigger than imagined — five times more than first estimated — and closer. Faint fingers of oily sheen were reaching the Mississippi River delta, lapping the Louisiana shoreline in long, thin lines.

“It is of grave concern,” David Kennedy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told The Associated Press. “I am frightened. This is a very, very big thing. And the efforts that are going to be required to do anything about it, especially if it continues on, are just mind-boggling.”

The oil slick could become the nation’s worst environmental disaster in decades, threatening hundreds of species of fish, birds and other wildlife along the Gulf Coast, one of the world’s richest seafood grounds, teeming with shrimp, oysters and other marine life. Thicker oil was in waters south and east of the Mississippi delta about five miles offshore.

The leak from the ocean floor proved to be far bigger than initially reported, contributing to a growing sense among many in Louisiana that the government failed them again, just as it did during Hurricane Katrina. President Barack Obama dispatched Cabinet officials to deal with the crisis.

Cade Thomas, a fishing guide in Venice, worried that his livelihood will be destroyed. He said he did not know whether to blame the Coast Guard, the federal government or oil company BP PLC.

“They lied to us. They came out and said it was leaking 1,000 barrels when I think they knew it was more. And they weren’t proactive,” he said. “As soon as it blew up, they should have started wrapping it with booms.”

The Coast Guard worked with BP, which operated the oil rig that exploded and sank last week, to deploy floating booms, skimmers and chemical dispersants, and set controlled fires to burn the oil off the water’s surface.

The company has requested more resources from the Defense Department, especially underwater equipment that might be better than

11 thoughts on “The Greatest Environmental Disaster of the Century: Turning Point or More to Come?”

  1. Alright, it’s time for a higher level of consciosness, humans. I can feel it starting to develop.

    All aboard.

  2. But if the relentless corporate push does abate then we must think about all the consequences carefully. There’s only so much energy and a lot of people depend on its day-by-day availability right now not five years from now.

    Let me try to be careful here, but I have seen a side of the industry that is also concerned and at times captivated not by the greed and material wealth but more by the wonder of science and to an extent nature itself. Again the challenge, adventure, and yes even creativity can outweigh the sense of greed.

    By all means let us use this accident to stop the hubristic (I think that is a real word) and callous dash toward shale drilling in our region.

    But relentlessness and remoteness of corporate industry makes us ALL casualties — intellectual casualties as well as emotional casualties.

    If and when this accident abates we should concentrate on understanding what is going on and doing something concerted about it. Not just punishing criminals, although justice should be done.

    I believe it was David Schweickart who said in “After Capitalism” not to neglect individuals in capitalism. We should be able to draw common cause with some capitalists, entrepreneurs, and industrialists. Some of them will become our allies.

  3. We’re All in it Together.

    We should be able to replace petroleum and coal with geothermal, solar, and wind energy. BUT we will be challenged continually to match the high energy densities petroleum and coal provide with these other means.

    How much wind power can Cape Cod produce when implemented? It’s a noble start but how much power Denmark actually provide? How much can we scale up the successful geothermal efforts of say Iceland which has one eight hundredth or one nine hundredth of the population of the U.S.? We will be challenged to overcome bottlenecks of supply.
    We also will be challenged to overcome bottlenecks of special materials. How much lithium can we actually expect the salt deserts and people of Bolivia to provide for our electric or hybrid cars? We must anticipate unexpected challenges in these new sources too.

    Let us look before we ‘leap’ toward Marcellus shale and stop offshore drilling but the other ways have their challenges too. Let us look carefully there too.

  4. How Can we Live Through the Oil Spill if it gets much worse?

    This may not help the people who live off the sea but we actually may have lived through a bad time sixty four to sixty eight years ago when many ships were sunk off the Atlantic coast and in the Gulf of Mexico during the early stages of U.S. involvement in WW II.
    The Atlantic coast beaches say in N.J. were black for a number of years after WW II stopped.

    Accordingly I’m getting a couple of books on the u-boat campaign and its impact or interaction with the Atlantic Coast.

    I may even trudge over to the library and look at the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

  5. Greed is not a sensation in the context of this article. Greed is a fundamental structural characteristic of a particular economic system – capitalism as we know it.

    The thirst for knowledge, willingness to take risk, sense of adventure, wonderment at nature are more human sensations that arise from individual experiences and adaptations within the system.

    In the carbon based energy industry the usefulness of greed to advancing civilization is expended. Quite the opposite, it now acts as a retarding force. Due to the power of its political and cultural position and influence it is able to continue its activity exploring, drilling, and recovering oil reserves.

    But now these reserves are held in very deep geological formations under pressures that are not part of the historic experience in this industry. The reality is that anything can go wrong under these circumstances…and will.

    Everything on the Deepwater Horizon was done by the book. The search for blame and responsibility is itself designed to avoid facing up to the reality that the system is an anachronism. Only in Venezuela, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Iran are there significant pools of oil near the surface that can be safely tapped.

    If there were no alternative to oil, then we would have no choice but to continue the pursuit of oil and risk the devastation of our coastal habitat as during World War II. But this is not a war and we do have alternatives. Comparisons to WWII devastation of our planet are beyond reason.

    The alternatives have been available for decades. For decades the spokespersons of the oil oligarchy have been saying that solar, wind, geothermal, etc. will not supply enough energy. And so nothing has been done of any magnitude. The naysayers are in power and continue to prove themselves right.

    Reagan removed Carter’s solar panels from the White House – a demonstration that Wall Street’s oil oligarchy was back in the saddle. Obama agreed to expansion of offshore drilling – a demonstration that Wall Street’s oil oligarchy is still int he saddle.

    This disaster should cause the people to look deeper into this issue and realize that the country must turn to green energy for several reasons. This will require breaking the back of the oil industry’s political dominance, supported by Wall Street, especially Goldman Sachs, and by the commodity traders.

    Green energy is more abundant than oil. It is safer to produce than oil. It benefits the climate as against oil. It creates new jobs and technology as against oil. It saves oil for critical applications. It requires less infrastructure to distribute. Wind, solar, and geothermal energy and heating can be locally gathered and distributed.

  6. I think by now our President Obama has learned a great lesson.I am anxious to see how he responds. It amazes me to think that our leadership says that we must reduce and eliminate carbon from our air. Yet these same people promote carbon energy development. Why? People need clean air, water and land to survive. We, the survivors and parents of the human race have a duty to oversee the protection of all of life’s resources.We also must promote the lives of the plants and animals.If we don’t, then there would only be canibals left.

  7. We need to work on getting alternative resources going but there are going to be ups and down. Those ups and downs may themselves may produce or manifest themselves as contradictions that are very discouraging. I think we should work with Obama but not abandon him easily. That working might include a lot of strong constructive criticism to get him on board the non carbon agenda.

    I hope I am wrong but I think getting a non carbon energy stream going at the level we have in the U.S. today is going to be very hard. It is going to take hard work to plan and adjust.

    A look at the results of the U-boat campaign near America in 1942 and 1943 or perhaps more properly Santa Barbara in 1969 and following years might instruct us about what happened and how nature and people responded. That at least might help us focus on how to help and cope. Perhaps some things were discovered in those situations that can instruct us. Let us learn from those unfortunate ‘experiments’.

    1. Berkeley, CA issued a bond and put a solar panel on every house. Homeowner paid for solar panel using electric bill savings. What’s hard about that?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s