April 22, 2010: The Beginning of the End

April 22, 2010: The Beginning of the End

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By Erich Pica

Three months into the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, BP has finally capped the well and is now testing to see if it can withstand the pressure building underground until the well is permanently plugged. While the oil blow-out has been a largely unmitigated disaster for the Gulf Coast and its communities, the response is an important test for the future of the planet. Will April 22, 2010 become our declaration of independence from dirty and dangerous fossil fuels, or will we succumb to political inertia?

Table of Contents

President’s Column

Introduction: A Crude Awakening

Behind the Scenes:
Severin Skolrud

Ethanol Greenwash:
Not Clean, Not Green

Ending Corporate Control in Congress

Trading Away Peoples’ Rights

Costing Oceans an Arm and a Leg

Toxic Dispersants in the Gulf

Global Solutions for a Global Crisis

Clean Energy Future:  Available Now

When faced with an ecological disaster in the past, the American public has risen to the test. On January 28, 1969, oil from an offshore rig contaminated the beaches off Santa Barbara, California, leading to the first Earth Day and the modern environmental movement. On March 28, 1979, a partial meltdown of Reactor 2 at Three Mile Island led to a default moratorium on the construction of new nuclear power reactors. On March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound, setting off drilling reform efforts and protections for the Alaskan wilderness.

Given the ever increasing threat and realized impacts of global warming, our response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster needs to be comprehensive and transformational. This disaster, and this moment, must be the catalyst for moving the United States and the world off of fossil fuels. What does this entail?

First, our political system needs to be detoxified. The vast amount of corporate campaign cash poisoning our government must be stopped. This starts and ends with January’s Supreme Court assertion in Citizen’s United that corporations are people, allowed the same rights as you and me. Friends of the Earth has joined the Move To Amend coalition that is seeking a constitutional amendment to end corporate personhood. As an immediate response to the Deepwater Horizon spill, Friends of the Earth launched a campaign effort followed by Moveon.org and CREDO, among others, demanding that members of Congress forsake campaign contributions from Big Oil and donate what money they have already received to Gulf Coast recovery and restoration.

Detoxification also involves purging the system of subsidies and tax breaks for dirty fossil fuels. In July, Friends of the Earth re-launched our Green Scissors campaign to eliminate wasteful and environmentally harmful subsidies from the federal budget. The campaign unites groups like Public Citizen, Environment America and Taxpayers for Common Sense and identifies more than $200 billion in cuts that the federal government could make right now that would save money and protect the environment.

These are just a couple of initial steps in the effort to clean up our government as we clean up the Gulf, but will go a long way in ending our fossil fuel use. If the Deepwater Horizon disaster isn’t convincing enough for the need to act, look north to the Canadian tar sands and the destruction that is occurring in Alberta to extract oil. Look to the east, across the Atlantic, at the efforts of Friends of the Earth Nigeria in fighting the ongoing ecological and human rights disaster in the Niger Delta caused by oil companies.

Let’s make April 22, 2010 the beginning of the end of our fossil fuel dependence.