Sunday, May 02, 2010

Oil: Trust us

The victims of the oil spill deserve our protection. The potential victims of Big Oil include all children and all creatures. We have a responsibility to them all. (photos of Alexa and of a little sea turtle)

In northern Wisconsin, we were told by the United States thermonuclear navy that they had contemplated all the environmental concerns of their Extremely Low Frequency command facility. They filed their Environmental Impact Statement. EPA had no further questions.

We did.

Our peace and environmental group, Stop Project ELF, worked hard to convince the Attorney General, Bronson LaFollette, to take action, and he did. He filed suit in federal court on behalf of the citizens of our state and our staff in Michigan (where the command system was expanding) persuaded the Marquette county prosecutor to join the suit. The federal judge scheduled a trial, which happened in 1983, and the ruling came out January 30, 1984: enjoin the US navy from further construction in Michigan and from the massive upgrade in Wisconsin. The ruling was almost 70 pages of evaluation of the evidence and the rationales for it. The trial had included testimony from the world's top experts on both sides. We went nose-to-nose with the US navy and won.

Then they went nuclear. They went to the Appellate panel in Chicago, a court far more military-obedient than federal judge Barbara Crabb. The Chicago court lifted the injunction with a two-sentence verbal ruling that invoked the dread words that every environmentalist knows when they deal with a military or oil facility.

National security.

Behind that cloak lurks the most dire violations of environmental law, civil rights abuses, money laundering and waste and direct theft from taxpayers imaginable. Legions of citizens fighting for environmental law, eventually joined by the US Congress and the President, created the National Environmental Policy Act and all its sequelae, such as the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and so forth. All that hard work in our democracy is largely impotent when dealing with DoD or Big Oil. Even the Congressional response to these abuses, the Federal Facilities Compliance Act, has been largely neutered by war.

"In an exploration plan and environmental impact analysis filed with the federal government in February 2009, BP said it had the capability to handle a "worst-case scenario" at the site, which the document described as a leak of 162,000 barrels per day from an uncontrolled blowout — 6.8 million gallons each day" (AP report)

We have a systemic problem that relates to our judicial branch of government at the highest levels. The courts, especially the Supremes, are poor at protecting the environment. They undercut democracy more often than they strengthen it. The will of the people to protect the basis for our lives--the very water and air and soil that sustains each and every life-affirming activity that is the foundation of our sustainable economy and our natural health--that will is ignored and flouted by our courts and this oil spill is part of that problem. Industry shills have manipulated both our media and political environments, making us hostile to regulation of industry, and we suffer every day from this.

Perhaps the Tea Party and the Pentagon--so excited about the use of violence to protect themselves and our national interest--could stand at the Louisiana shore and shoot all their bullets at the oil. Bomb it, fire all the rockets at it. Unload their clips into the roiling oil waves that will schlump up over their boots, over the sands, up into the marshes, and kill off the ecology. These people have one tool and that tool, violence, is how they maintain control over the world's oil.

Turns out that Oil Bats Last. NO ONE has control of the oil. It has control. We gave it control.

Our peace house, Whitefeather, is car-free. Yesterday, Terri turned over her leased car to the dealer and that was the end of a period when our community had a car parked in front of it. We've been car-free before; no one here had a car when Rhoda sold her Prius a while back and Terri planned to go car-free a month after moving in with her daughter, Alexa. We've reclaimed the parking spot at the top of the driveway by building three garden beds and a fire pit. (photo of Alexa's flower bed as she hugs a baby blueberry bush) We are reclaiming the short driveway now with plantings and a walk and bike trail. We purchase green electricity from PGE that comes not from oil and nukes and coal (and our Citizens Utility Board tells us that is genuine). So we hope we are removing most of our support for Big Oil.

Poor Louisiana and its citizens along the coast will not be able to reclaim their ecology with some vegetable and flower beds. Big Oil is ruining it for a long time to come. And Big Oil has convinced our government that we don't see what we see. Obama defends more offshore drilling. The courts allowed the BP EIS to stand.

If we want to replace our oil and war economy we will have to reclaim our democracy and never let go. Our children deserve nothing less. We just celebrated Earth Day, two days ago was Arbor Day, and a week from today is Mothers Day. All these symbolic days can offer opportunities for us to do the work for peace and the Earth that will make them meaningful again.

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