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The Deepwater Horizon has Lost Its Sunshine


For anyone who lives on or near the Gulf of Mexico, imagining another tragedy the magnitude of the Deepwater Horizon is out of the question. Could that have been what the Secretary of Interior, Ken Salazar, was thinking when he advised his Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee that they should not give the Deepwater Horizon a second thought? After all, when preparing their economic analysis and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) there was no mention of the momentous event.

The Department of Interior's Five Year Ocean Continental Shelf (OCS) Plan, failed to include any of the loss of life or ongoing economic and ecological struggles, from what happened off the shore of the U.S. in the Gulf of Mexico.     

The risk analysis report implies there is little chance of a spill and if so, it would be less costly then prior ones. This conclusion was constructed using select periods and locations that exclude the Deepwater Horizon disaster. How could it be possible that this tragedy not be mentioned.

President Obama recently signed orders to allow additional drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The OCS leasing plan includes 12 Gulf of Mexico lease sales in the next five years. This not only contradicts promises Obama made campaigning for the presidency, but is also a slap in the face to those who make their living from those waters and a kick in the teeth to the family members of the 11 workers that perished. 

Tens of billions of dollars are generated annually from gulf beaches, hotels and water sports. Almost 70 percent of the nation's oysters and shrimp come from what is considered one of the most productive fisheries in the world. These are now significant resources in peril again, risking a dollar of economic prosperity for a dime of oil. Should another catastrophe occur, the people once again will suffer -- not the oil companies or their codependent, the U.S. Government.

To date, BP has paid out less than 1/3 of the $20 billion it agreed to pay  for damages to the Gulf region. The company has already asked to be excused from responsibility for the continual damage fermenting in the Gulf. Ken Salazar is likely to support such a reprieve, departments under his umbrella get almost a nickel of that dime from oil through royalties and taxes. 

Under the Dept. of Interior,the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages 245 million acres of public lands and 700 million acres of mineral estates. The resources from these lands generate more than $100 billion in revenue annually. Collecting royalties from mineral rights is very lucrative for the government and its oil industry partners. Mining for uranium, coal, iron, limestone, phosphate and copper always gets a green light, while the government just sits back and collects the dough.

In 2007, the total market cap of mining companies was $962 billion. Add the royalties from oil-shale, offshore oil rigs and now fracking natural gas and you will see who it is that keeps us deep in oil, coal and nuclear power and out of alternative energies. The government has absolutely no incentive to really transfer any of the power load to alternatives.

The Department of Interior is arguably the most powerful department in government. It oversees everything that drives the economic engines of the country and caters to the corporate interests it pretends to be regulating. The OCS five-year plan is but one small example of how the government does its corporate bidding. 

The illusion, like that in this video, is that at a glance, the beaches appear to be clean. But there is a very toxic bed beneath the sand destroying the ecology and threatening its future. Underneath the government body that appears to be there to protect our future, is a very toxic environment as well, with officials eager to do the bidding for the largest corporate polluters in the world, while taxpayers pay both of them to do so. 

Recent attention has been given to "The Stock Act," which is legislation attempting to curtail legal inside-trading by legislators, and is also a perfect example of how congressional leaders are undermining our future. The trading of commodity and security futures, using privy, non-public information, and allowing the same legislatures to profit from such information, is how many Congressional members leave congress with ten times the wealth of the sum of salary paid to them.

Example: Back in July, The House Appropriations Committee released its 2012 Interior-Environmental spending bill. It was in April and May that Congressional members knew that the EPA cuts of $967 million from their Clean Water and Drinking Water programs, wouldn't go to balance the budget. In fact, it didn't make it out of the committee doors. It went right to Mineral and Mining (another Dept. of Interior division) for research and exploration of gas, oil and coal. The committee funneled billions into the Mineral and Mining budget for more research and exploration.

This is simply having the Government perform the R & D for these industries, moreover it is allowing congressional members to know just which commodities are all but guaranteed to prosper. Congress is then free to invest, and allowed to vote on bills that will guarantee their profits.

Sounds ludicrous doesn't it? What it is, is immoral. Having the Deepwater Horizon's ugly picture stricken from the photo album to our future, won't make this a better world. In fact, it makes it far more dangerous. 

There's an old saying, What's worse than a uniformed Nazi outside of your door? One out of uniform. We pay for government departments to oversee dangerous industries and ensure that our best interests are preserved -- not to collude with polluters and stamp every filthy outcome with the promise that all is well, and there's nothing to worry about. Don't settle for less than all you can find out and don't take it for granted that if something was wrong, they'd stop it from happening. Without pressure from an informed citizenry, it's just too easy for government to cozy up to rich and powerful special interests, while we the people foot the bill.


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