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Hullabaloo


Monday, March 24, 2014

 
"Who is going to love and take care of Alaska?"

by digby

Check out this beautiful piece by Shanny Moore about the 20th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in the formerly pristine Prince William sound. It's heartbreaking. And the conclusion is just maddening:

Our delegation to Washington DC could have introduced a law over the last 20 years to force Exxon to pick up their bar tab and pay for their crime. They were woefully silent. Instead, they debated things like gay marriage, vaginal rights, Bill Clinton’s impeachment over extra-presidential activities, steroids in baseball, and Terry Schiavo. Meanwhile, dozens of Alaskans, displaced from their identity, committed suicide while waiting for justice.

You know why? Oil rules. It’s bigger than governments. For all the nut-jobs hoarding Mormon food and bullets talking about the “New World Order”? It’s here. It’s called Big Oil. It’s why countries are invaded, wars are waged and media pretends it isn’t happening.

When Sarah Palin was asked by Katie Couric what Supreme Court decisions other than Roe v Wade she disagreed with, she couldn’t think of one. NOT ONE! She was a moose caught in the headlights. That didn’t work out too well for the moose or the vehicle. The Alaska fisherman lost their voice once again. Thanks, but no thanks, Sarah. Her siding with Pebble Mine was enough…the icing on the cake was the wasted chance….a chance to tell America our story…an Alaskan story…thousands sick from clean up…tens of thousands bankrupt from a dead fishery. Sarah Palin is to Alaska what Velveeta is to cheese; sadly unsatisfying and empty of nutrition. She had the national stage to plead Alaska’s case to citizens who had long forgotten the images of a once pristine Prince William Sound turned into a thick, black, rolling sea; the oiled sea otters and birds, unrecognizable seals and whales; an initially deformed and diseased herring run that became extinct-costing Cordova $100 million a year. Exxon exploited Alaska and turned our pain into their profit.

After the BP spill I was hired by the BBC to go back to Prince William Sound to report on the shape it was in. There were no birds. We skiffed for hours to an outer beach, one pounded by waves for more than two decades. I walked across the salt marsh, shovel in hand. I didn’t need a shovel. My boot prints had already filled with oil slick.

It was so close to the surface, and so was all my pain. The lies. The memories of dead birds, otters, seals, deer, bears, fish, and water. Dead Water. Dead Friends.

Alaska isn’t a sovereign state any longer. Once we were the Last Frontier and independent. Hell, you have to drive through a foreign country for days to get here. Right?

We are oil colony. It wasn’t that long ago that 10% of our legislature was indicted for taking bribes from oil companies.

A few weeks ago our governor appointed an oil man from California to serve on a board that accesses the tax burden for the Trans Alaska Pipeline. It’s a big deal to the municipalities the pipeline runs through. When things got hot the appointee pulled his own name out of the running.

Three days before the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez running aground, Governor Parnell has appointed an executive of said company from Houston, Texas to the board that decides the value of the pipeline for tax purposes. Mr. Richard Rabinow has worked for Exxon for 24 years, doesn’t live here, but is sure to give Alaska the best bang for their buck.

Is the governor fresh out of “*#^@ YOU!” cards?

The state’s willingness to do business with Exxon was like having your parents rent the basement to the guy who date raped you on prom night. Am I clear? The fact Governor Parnell wants to give them positions of power is like having said rapist adopt you. I suppose there should be no surprise. The governor was lobbyist and lawyer for big oil…I use the term “was” lightly.

Twenty Five years after the fact, Exxon has yet to pay Alaska the $92 million owed for damages. They privatized their profits and socialized the risk.

Last time I went to Prince William Sound I met a deckhand. She was asking me about how many birds there used to be. I looked at her puzzled. She was born after the Spill. Alaska is divided generationally by epic disasters. Fifty years ago was the 1964 Earthquake – a 9.2 – the largest recorded for North America. Twenty five years ago a new defining moment for our state. For those of us who had our lives changed forever, we have to remember what we lost, and tell the next gen. We say things like “Never Again”, then see drilling in our Arctic permitted. In 1989 I had a Mac Plus computer – it weighed 15 pounds and had a screen the size of a greeting card. Now I have an iPad that works wonders. The technology for computers has changed, but not for oil spill clean up. Same diapers, booms and chemical sprays. The truth is, they don’t clean up oil spills. They pay fines that have already been calculated in as the cost of doing business.

No. Exxon doesn’t do business right. They don’t make you whole. Exxon loves and takes care of Exxon, as does our governor. Who is going to love and take care of Alaska?

I wouldn't count on politicians to do it, that's for sure. (The Republicans not only want to end all funding for national parks, they want to drill in them. In fact, I'd guess we're going to see an attempt to make the whole country an oil colony:

U.S. crude-oil production rose to the highest level in almost 26 years last week as imports declined, the Energy Information Administration reported.

Output increased 33,000 barrels a day in the week ended March 14, or 0.4 percent, to 8.215 million, the most since May 1988, said the EIA, the Energy Department’s statistical arm. Production has jumped 15 percent from a year earlier as a combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, unlocked supplies trapped in shale formations in North America.

And I don't know who is going to love and take care of America either ...

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