While I was reading about this disastrous oil spill last week, I really thought that this would be all the proof needed to show the country and most importantly our president that the idea of expanding our offshore drilling is nothing short of stupid. Personally, I loved the Huffington Post’s headline of “SPILL BABY SPILL” and thought it the perfect response to Sarah Palin’s mindless droning. However, I am continuously surprised with the speed and ability of those who would defend the status quo and when I read this morning that Representative Gene Taylor of Mississippi compared the gulf’s oil spill to that of chocolate milk – I nearly fell out of my chair.
Taylor, who has a record of supporting expanded drilling, is quick to downplay the effects of the oil spill by telling his audience that it is, in fact, not Katrina. Okay, not a hurricane, got it – but is it Armageddon? “This is not Armageddon”, the good representative tells us. Phew! I guess I can stop worrying now. I suspect that he will be one of the first out there on his district’s beaches when this stuff washes up so that he can enjoy its chocolaty goodness (along with the dead animals).
This dishonest narrative about oil drilling is what allows campaigns like “Drill, Baby, Drill!” to spread further than the vacuous mouth that first utters it. When Obama announced his new plan to expand offshore drilling, we were subjected to a barrage of misinformation telling us how safe this drilling is, including the lie that there were no significant spills after Katrina and Rita. McCain called the platforms “safe enough” and even Obama came out to lie to our faces, saying that “oil rigs today generally don’t cause spills.” The Sierra Club has an informative .pdf about these falsehoods here.
We face a dangerous future when the oil reserves around the world start to dry up. Those that have oil may find themselves faced with an American war machine ready to murder and destroy in order to take it. The myriad of products we depend on that require oil will start to become less and less available. The alternative energy sources that we need now will not be available or strong enough to carry our energy burden. Expanding our dependence, even domestically, only perpetuates a myth we have coaxed ourselves into believing and doesn’t prepare us for this sobering reality.
We can’t expect this to stop our country’s determination to exploit every ounce of oil and push off serious investment into alternative energy sources. The president will make an appearance, maybe wash the oil off a sea turtle or two (photo op!), proclaim that those involved in the clean-up are doing a great job, wait a few weeks for this to recede from the nation’s collective memory, and proceed with pushing for more drilling. After all, he has to if he expects to be able to count on the oil corporations’ donations for his reelection, and that is clearly what is important here.