Crude Awakening: How We Can Avoid Another Gulf Tragedy

Crude Awakening: How We Can Avoid Another Gulf Tragedy

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By Scott Baumgartner

Deepwater HorizonOn April 22, the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig sank off the coast of Louisiana, killing 11 workers. Estimates show the amount of oil pouring into the ocean to be more than 19,000 barrels a day, far exceeding the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill. It’s unquestionably the largest environmental disaster in the history of the United States, and the oil continues to flow.

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

At the time of writing, crude oil was washing up on the Florida coast. Projections showed oil entering the Gulf Stream and traveling up the Atlantic seaboard during the summer months. Pelicans soaked in crude that looked like chocolate sauce were physical evidence of the unprecedented damage BP’s and the Department of the Interior’s negligence has caused for one of the continent’s most vibrant ecosystems.

And the stories pile up every day: BP’s inept inability to stop the oil from flowing; the devastated livelihoods of local fishermen; BP’s refusal to stop using toxic dispersants, denial of plainly visible underwater oil plumes, and underestimation of the oil flow in order to avoid paying fines. If the noxious vapors from the oil weren’t making enough people sick, the treachery and brazen greed of BP has disgusted the rest of us.

The scenes of devastation in the Gulf of Mexico — from the rapidly expanding blot of oil along the coast to pictures of blackened and dying sea life — remind Friends of the Earth of the images of the Santa Monica oil spill and the burning Cuyahoga River that inspired the first Earth Day and the passage of landmark legislation such as the Clean Water Act. It’s clear that this catastrophe needs to serve as the clarion call to a new wave of environmental action: putting a price on carbon, getting ourselves off of oil and other fossil fuels, ramping up solar and wind energy, investing in smart transportation policy, and permanently rejecting false energy solutions such as nuclear and biofuels.

This issue of our newsmagazine looks at how each aspect of Friends of the Earth’s work, from international climate negotiations to transportation policy, works to steer us away from disasters like the one we’re experiencing now. It’s all important, and we’re glad to be able to share it with you.