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True Colors

by Gabe Wisniewski

May 10, 2010

Today, on the same day that oil began washing up on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, a coalition of fossil fuel industry groups decided to sue the Environmental Protection Agency to stop them from forcing car makers to increase the fuel efficiency of their fleet. It’s been shown time and again that simply increasing the mileage of our cars to 40 miles per gallon would make all the oil the “drill baby drillers” are clamoring for completely obsolete. Fuel efficiency means we’d all save lots of money, we’d avoid future environmental catastrophes, we’d be more energy independent, and we would use less oil. But it’s only that last point that matters to industry.

Us using less oil means they make less money. And no ecological disaster, no destruction of communities, and no loss of life will deter them from their profit.

colors of oil

BP lobbied hard against the kinds of regulations that would have prevented the disaster in the Gulf, saying that they couldn’t operate under the government’s “extensive, prescriptive regulations.”  But they told us that instead of regulating them we should trust them, because a spill was “virtually impossible.” 

Massey Energy, the company whose mine collapsed last month and killed 29 people, has spent millions fighting regulation, with CEO Don Blankenship noting that government-regulated mine safety was “as silly as global warming.”  But don’t worry, he said, because the “safety and health of coal miners is my most important job.” 

This summer, Shell hopes to drill for oil in the pristine and turbulent seas off Alaska’s remote coasts. They’ve been given the same free pass that BP was given for their rig, probably because they assured regulators that “a large oil spill, such as a crude oil release from a blowout, is extremely rare and not considered a reasonably foreseeable impact.” Are you convinced? 

It’s time we stopped treating industry lobbyists with piles of cash like they’re trustworthy negotiating partners. They’re not. We can see their pure profit motive in today’s lawsuit, and in the behavior of the fossil fuel industry for generations. We have a right to expect our government to do what’s in the best interest of our environment, our communities, our safety, our future. There is no way to safely drill for oil offshore. That this fact puts a dent in the bottom line of Shell or BP or Exxon doesn’t make it any less true. The question is, what will we do about it?

Please join me in demanding a ban on new offshore drilling, and if you’ve already done so, ask 5 of your friends to do it. Because if our government doesn’t step up we’ll just keep "trusting" the BP’s and Shells of the world with our lives and livelihoods forever.

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