Are We Winning the Gulf Future?
As the dust settles around President Obama's State of the Union, and the two Republican speeches it inspired, I'm left a bit dazed. How does the worst oil spill in U.S. history, which occurred just 9 months ago, fail to secure a mention?
While, yes, the BP drilling disaster doesn't put the Obama Administration in its best light, the Administration accomplished much to be proud of in the wake of the disaster. The National Oil Spill Commission he empaneled just issued the gold standard report on what went wrong, why, and what we need to do to make sure it never happens again. His Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force is working on a long-needed restoration implementation strategy. His Department of Justice is doing, well something, in that big space they rented just up the street to investigate the Deepwater Horizon. And in addition to renaming the Minerals Management Services, the reforms Secretary Salazar is putting in place in the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement are an important step in the right direction.
In addition, if you're going to sell a skeptical nation on the need to invest in clean energy (by the way, coal and nuclear are never clean), you might want to remind them of the problems inherent in dirty energy. The largest single example of the downside to drilling is sadly falling squarely in the nation's rear-view mirror. It would be helpful to put the headlights on the BP disaster and its fallout, before turning ahead toward the positive vision of restoration, and the cleaner future we may get with 80% of our energy coming from renewable energy.
Unfortunately, we're stuck in an ugly, messy situation in the Gulf. The oil is still here, and still affecting our coast and communities. We're staring at dying marsh, struggling families, and uncertain health impacts. We're just starting down the long road to recovery.
I get it, the President wanted to stick to the bright and shining, 'winning the future' rhetoric, instead of scaring us with things like global warming, or the massive hit the Gulf ecosystem has taken from BP's crude. But ignoring these problems certainly won't make them go away.
This blog is cross-posted from the Gulf Restoration Network.
AARON VILES is the deputy director of the Gulf Restoration Network, a 16 year-old environmental advocacy group with an exclusive focus on the Gulf of Mexico. Aaron is also an advisor to the Gulf Coast Fund, and a member of the Louisiana Sierra Club's Executive Committee. Follow him on twitter here.