Jeremy (butterwelles) wrote,

  • Location:
  • Mood:

Citizen Action

I am a monthly doner to Greenpeace, but up until a few seconds ago was never anything more: I looked upon their numerous emails announcing letter-writing campaigns for and against this or that cause as a nuisance, and finally ended up automatically deleating them whenever they came.  Admittedly there was shame on my part for doing nothing more than contribute $15 a month.  Maybe hurtling myself between the whistling harpoon of a Japanese whaler, and a proud, grandly flopping whale minding its own business of devouring plankton is not my style, but I can write so why could I never manage to even do that?

Today's letter-writing-plea-email title piqued my curiosity: Offshore Drilling and Hurricanes Don't Mix.  It so happened that only a couple of days prior, this had been a topic at the dinner table.  One side had been for us doing more drilling for oil on our land so that our transition from an oil-based energy economy to a more clean and renewable one would pass more smoothly.  Today's technology renders worries about spills, leakages, and other possible related disasters obsolete.  Afterall, the drilling sites in the Gulf of Mexico had survived the massive assault of Hurrican Katerina without incident.  Furthermore, it was argued, the greater supply of oil would reduce our gas prices.

The letter from greenpeace refuted all points, and is more like mine own opinion.  Here is what it said:
Dear Jeremy,

Just three years after Katrina, Hurricane Gustav has hit the Gulf coast, leaving a great deal of damage in its wake. My heart goes out to everyone affected by this storm, and I hope the recovery efforts will be swift for those in the storm's path.

I was in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina to document the environmental destruction it caused: the oil spills, chemical spills, and wetlands destruction.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused "six major, five medium, and over 5,000 minor oil and hazmat" spills,
according to the U.S. Coast Guard (link). An estimated nine million gallons of oil were spilled, and that estimate does not even include the 5,000 minor spills. I saw many of the oil spills Katrina caused first-hand, and I know there is a serious risk of ecological devastation in the wake of Gustav, which plowed through more than 4,000 offshore drilling platforms and 33,000 miles of pipeline in the Gulf.

Along with its human and environmental impacts, the trashing of oil rigs in the Gulf can have economic consequences, too, as an interruption in production can lead to a spike in gas prices.

But despite the obvious risks that offshore drilling pose to our nation's beaches, our economy, wildlife, and ecosystems, there is a major political push for more offshore drilling right now in Congress. Even if we didn't learn our lesson from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Hurricane Gustav and the hurricanes following in his wake should demonstrate once and for all that offshore drilling is not a secure energy plan for America.
We don't need more drilling (take-action link) in the Gulf of Mexico or off the coasts of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, which are also frequent targets of hurricanes. California's earthquake-prone coast isn't a good place for offshore rigs either and the threat to wildlife and pristine oceans in Alaska is reason enough to ban drilling there, too.

Offshore drilling isn't a solution to our dependence on foreign oil and high energy prices. Our oil addiction can only be cured by changing the way we find and use energy. The only energy investments we should be making are in clean, renewable sources like wind and solar that we can produce right here in the United States. We'll need an automobile fleet with much higher gas mileage and a move toward electric cars. All of this is possible today if there is a will in Congress and in corporate board rooms.

TAKE ACTION NOW! Say no to more rigs, no to more oil spills, and no to more global warming. (take-action link)

Right now, the U.S. Minerals Management Service is accepting public comments on its new 5-year drilling plan that would open up more of our coasts to oil drilling. Tell the government to keep our coastal waters safe and oppose new offshore drilling.

You can help lead the charge for real solutions, not false remedies that waste precious time in the fight to curb the most serious impacts of global warming.

Mark Floegel
Senior Researcher

So, possibly inspired by frequent mentions of men-of-action in a short-story I was reading, called "The Three Horsemen of the Appocolypse" by G.K. Chesterton in his final such collection entitled The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond, I clicked on a link and wrote the following letter to the U.S. Minerals Management Service:

I oppose the MMS' newly proposed 5-year Outer Continental Shelf leasing program for 2010 to 2015 for the following reasons:

1) Any promises of new oil supplies will only stall the now essential transition to cleaner, renewable sources of energy.

2) Despite all technological improvements in oil-drilling techniques, there will inevitably be spills caused by the undeniably superior strength of nature (earthquakes, hurricanes, erosion, etc.) that harm the surrounding environment.  More sites = more damage.

3) Energy prices will not decrease.

I thank you and all those related in such decision-making for your consideration of this opinion.  Below is the generic argument provided by Greenpeace for its members, like myself.

- Jeremy Butterfield


I am writing to express my opposition to the Minerals Management Service’s (MMS) new 5-year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) leasing program proposed for 2010 to 2015.

First, the U.S. burns close to one-quarter of the world’s oil, yet we only have about three percent of the world’s oil reserves. We will never be able to drill our way to lower gas prices or energy security, even if we drilled every last drop of oil out of the OCS or from onshore resources. When President Bush opened eight million acres to drilling in 2007, prices continued to skyrocket. Even the U.S. Energy Information Administration agrees that new drilling will likely amount to a price difference of mere pennies per gallon, and not until as much as a decade from now.  The MMS supports this new 5-year lease sale program with a false and misleading argument that more drilling will lower gas prices.  This is a tremendous disservice to the American public who deserves true relief from high gas and energy prices.  

Second, the U.S. must address its addiction to oil, whether the oil is produced domestically or imported is not the issue. MMS’s 5-year leasing program will only continue to feed this addiction, not cure it, and will stall the transition away from oil and toward conservation and renewable energy.  More drilling will also lead to more global warming, oil spills, environmental degradation, and loss of billions of dollars in revenue for states whose coasts will be cross-hatched with oil industry infrastructure, all without any benefit for the American public in terms of meaningful relief from high gas and energy prices.

Last, this new 5-year leasing program is illegal given the congressional moratorium on OCS drilling.  MMS cannot promote drilling in areas that are protected by the moratorium.  The moratorium was put into place for a reason and MMS is bound by the law to uphold it.

As a concerned citizen, I ask that the Secretary of the Interior cancel this leasing program and instead use these resources to invest in expanding and creating jobs in the renewable energy field.

After clicking on "send", I was then sent to a page that allowed me to write another letter, this time to Congress about a similar issue.  It was so similar that I could reuse the same letter I had already written, merely having to alter the first sentence between the words "oppose" and "for" and keeping the new pre-written letter, instead of the old, at bottom.

It was all much simpler and quicker than the writing of this blog, which has further delayed me from the finale of that brilliant Chesterton story (which happens to be Jorge Luis Borges' favorite Chesterton short-story of all-time).  But I feel very accomplished.
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.