By Sherry Antonetti, NSNC Member
The Gulf of Mexico was my growing up summer place, so I’ve been following this crisis from the get go for personal reasons. I saw Hurricane Rita rip my hometown of Beaumont to shreds in 2005 and Hurricane Ike (2008) destroy a whole community that was part of my childhood including the beach house in Caplen my grandmother used to keep generations together from 1925 on. I only recently got to stand on the mound that was once where all my birthdays were celebrated and it still is hard to wrap around the thought that so much of everything that was and seemed permanent, is gone.
So when there was an explosion and the loss of a whole rig in the gulf, and we were reassured via the news that the well wasn’t leaking but that if it did, it wouldn’t be bad, I breathed a sigh of relief. Too soon.
We were told the impact on the environment would be minimal. It isn’t.
We’ve also been told that the government has been in charge from day one. Do they really want to own this from day one? Because then they have to own they didn’t know what they were saying then or doing then, or were lying then or are lying now.
We also know that local officials and state officials have been begging for assistance and received deafening silence with environmentally deadly consequences. So the no answer response was part of the plan from day one?
We also know that repeated attempts to cap the well that was awarded by the current administration for its safety, have failed. We also know that the numbers of times this particular deep water rig has been inspected by the government mysteriously keeps changing upward. We also know from internal correspondence of BP that they overrode their own safety protocols without explanation.
We also know that those who are responsible for overseeing that evil corporations like BP follow their protocols and safety precautions were distracted by all those fine restaurants and sporting events.
What we know is neither the government nor the corporation escapes clean, neither the present nor the past administration. What we know is this oil mess coats everyone it touches; and it is very hard to come clean, let alone be transparent.
We also know the leak is now expected to gush even more and through August and that the government has no expertise in this area and must defer to BP who can’t make a move without those who don’t have the expertise giving the go ahead okay. So how does this make anyone look capable or reassure anyone?
The President has assured us that BP will have to pay for everything but I have a question. If the spill goes on until BP goes bankrupt, how can he make them pay? Or do we allow corporations to go bankrupt for mismanagement anymore?
And even the largest checks won’t bring back the marshlands if they are destroyed or the years lost. Whole communities will be gutted if the gulf where they live can no longer be used for fishing, for shrimping, for boating, for swimming. Will BP pay for the hair dresser who no longer has hair to cut because those who used her shop that was based out of her home have left? Or the restaurant that no longer has a home base of regulars? Or the dingy bar shack that serves as a consolation prize for days when nothing bit? What about all those who make their livings more modestly than most by serving as guides to whomever shows up, pays in cash and wants a person with an air or john boat who can show them where they can bag a few pintails or catch a few specs? There will be no ducks or fish, there will be no need for guides, there will be no jobs for these people.Will BP pick up the tab for the people who now have no jobs but don’t want to move from the life they’ve known that is already at least temporarily gone? It’s a Katrina type question.
What are the long term effects of all this oil? No one knows. So we cannot know the price and we cannot know the cost, we only know it’s big and growing. And that there is plenty of blame to go around, but blaming isn’t really what matters right now, what matters right now is “Plugging the damn hole.” I’ll have plenty of mad to spare for all involved but the job now is to use every means everywhere to clean this up.