In a symbolic but moving gesture, the Hands Across the Sands oil drilling protest on Saturday brought out people from Miami to Melbourne to stand in solidarity for clean beaches, and against more offshore oil drilling.
There were events around the world, but the turnout was especially heavy in the U.S., spanning the nation from High Line Park in New York City and Nags Head in North Carolina in the East, to Puget Sound and Los Angeles and several beaches in between on the West Coast. People lined up in Anchorage and Maui.
The message of Hands Across the Sands, its founder likes to say, is simple: Say ‘No’ to oil drilling and ‘Yes’ to clean energy.
To make that point crystal clear, thousands of Americans are expected to line up on beaches tomorrow (June 26) at 11 a.m. to join hands and show their solidarity on that point. The gatherings will last 15 minutes. Organizers will take a photo of the group, and then members will disband, leaving only their footprints behind.
Following the failure of the latest efforts to plug the gushing leak from BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, and amid warnings that oil could continue to flow for another two months or more, perhaps it’s a good time to step back a moment mentally and look at the bigger picture—the context of our human history of resource extraction—to see how current events reveal deeper trends that will have even greater and longer-lasting significance.
Much of what follows may seem obvious to some readers, pedantic to others. But very few people seem to have much of a grasp of the basic technological, economic, and environmental issues that arise as resource extraction proceeds, and as a society adapts to depletion of its resource base. So, at the risk of boring the daylights out of those already familiar with the history of extractive industries, here follows a spotlighting of relevant issues, with the events in the Gulf of Mexico ever-present in the wings and poised to take center stage as the subject of some later comments.
U.S. Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) pounced on oil executives today with charges that all the big oil firms have nearly identical outdated emergency spill plans that reference “identical ineffective equipment.”
The plans, like the one used by BP for gulf drilling that references how to save walruses and lists a long-dead expert to call upon, reflect the industry’s inattention to the possibility of a major oil spill in the gulf or anyway.
The Bayou City -- greener than you think (Photo: Green Right Now)
Driving around Houston, or idling in traffic on one of the city’s big expanses of highway, it’s hard to think of the nation’s oil capital as a green city. Like other sprawling Sunbelt meccas built on the assumption that roads were forever, the city deals with intense traffic-related pollution. It’s known in the parlance of the EPA as a “non-attainment” metro area for its inability to meet healthy air quality targets. It can mount a hazy skyline to rival L.A.’s and it’s got the added burden of benzene and other toxics wafting in from nearby oil refineries. And still, the petrol city gets that it is a new greener day in America.
From Green Right Now Reports
NASA satellite photography captured the BP oil slick, now in its third week, from space.
The slick has been said to have a surface area greater than Maryland; and even though experts continue to debate how devastating or unprecedented it will or won’t be, it is a prominent feature in the gulf, where it’s is visible as a thick, gray hook-shaped feature.
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center based in Greenbelt, Md., reports that the slick is directly south of the Mississippi/Alabama borders, southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi.
From Green Right Now Reports
The Natural Resources Defense Council has several staff members focused on the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, including some on the scene of the spill in Louisiana where shrimpers are saying the timing of this calamity couldn’t have been worse:
As thousands rushed into action on the Louisiana coast on Friday to deal with the millions of gallons of oil heading for shore, the region’s largest environmental advocacy group issued a statement to illustrate the magnitude of the biological fallout. The BP oil spill quite simply could destroy the most productive fishery in the world, said Mobile Baykeeper, a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance. The coastal Gulf region, stretching from the Mobile Bay Estuary to Galveston Bay, produces 69% of all domestic shrimp and 70% of all domestic oysters, the group reported.
Up around Cape Cod, they were so worried about how the Cape Wind project might affect their views, or more precisely, their property values, that the opposition to this groundbreaking project dragged on and on. It took nine years to get final approval, which came yesterday from the Department of the Interior.
Two years ago we ran a story about another wind project, in nearby Hull, Mass., where the vast majority of residents are quite pleased with their money-saving wind turbines, which are a lot more up close and view-affecting than the Cape Wind project will ever be. Richard Miller, operations manager of the Hull Municipal Light Plant (HMLP), said then: “There has been no resistance on the part of the residents.”
Perhaps wind is a little less intimidating once it’s saving your school district $20K a year.
British Petroleum (BP) has announced plans to bring cellulosic ethanol to market in the U.S., through a partnership with bio-fuel developer Verenium, a company that makes biofuels from rice straw, sugarcane stalks, switchgrass and wood chips. The partnership could help speed the availability of lower cost, more environmentally friendly biofuels, according to an announcement by both companies this week.