Monday, June 7, 2010

How to help

One of the many by-products of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been the sense of inchoate rage that is building, not just on the Gulf I believe but throughout the country. This rage is further inflamed among many of us by the sense that this tragedy should never have happened.

If the government agencies that were supposed to be monitoring and providing oversight of energy companies had not been in bed with those energy companies (literally, in some instances) and had been doing an effective job of policing, permits for this deep well drilling would never have been issued. It would have been obvious to an objective observer that the technology was inadequate and that there was no credible plan for what would be done in case of an accident.

One of the most appalling things in this whole appalling affair has been the fact that BP did not really have a clue as to how to stop the spill, other than by drilling relief wells which takes months. They've been inventing strategies on the fly, and so far the oil is still flowing. Over the last four decades or so, the oil industry seems to have put all of its research resources into learning ways to drill deeper and extract more oil from the earth. They have apparently spent little or no resources in figuring out ways to make that drilling safe and to protect the environment from the effects of their drilling. BECAUSE THEY HAVEN'T BEEN MADE TO!

Let's face it. During much of this time, the federal government and many state governments, including Texas', have been in the pocket of the oil companies and many still are - including Texas. During the Bush/Cheney years in Washington in particular, it seems that few decisions were made without first consulting their cronies in the oil companies, and many federal agencies were stacked with employees who came directly from those companies. No wonder the oversight has been lax.

This mess needs to be cleaned up, and I'm not just talking about the oil that is staining the beaches and wetlands and killing the wildlife. We need to demand that our government finally get back in the business of governing and of protecting us and the precious environment from these rapacious companies that think of nothing but their own profits. Whether it is the greed on Wall Street or among the board rooms of the oil companies, one of government's functions is to protect the vulnerable from the powerful. In the last ten years, it has fallen down on the job. It's time for them to get busy and redeem themselves.

In the meantime, our immediate concern is to try to help the wildlife and the people caught in this catastrophe. There is an awful feeling of helplessness for most of us as we read the terrible stories and see the heart-rending pictures. But there is actually something we can do. We can help the organizations that are on the scene to assist. Here are a few links to some of those organizations. If you feel the need to do something, check them out and see how you can help.

Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research

National Wildlife Federation

Also, Yahoo! Green has a list of other organizations that are helping both people and wildlife caught in the disaster.

Do whatever you can to help these organizations. You'll feel better for it.

And don't forget to demand that your elected representatives do their jobs to stop these polluters from despoiling the earth and its seas.

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