What could potentially be the worst oil spill in history on Alaska's North Slope was discovered last week after a BP oil operator noticed signs of a spill at a caribou migration site. Three days later, response workers finally found the source of the spill -- a breach in an oil transit pipeline feeding into the larger trans-Alaska oil pipeline. At least one report from an industry expert has indicated that up to 798,000 gallons of crude oil could be unaccounted for, which could make this second in Alaska only to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.
Ironically, the House and Senate budget committees are scheduled to mark up their budget bills as early as tomorrow (Wed., March 8). The Arctic Wildlife Refuge represents the last 5 percent of the North Slope that is off-limits to destructive oil drilling. We can't take the chance the disasters like last week's will destroy that as-yet unspoiled wild place. Send the message to your Senators and Representatives TODAY that the controversial issue of Arctic Refuge drilling should be put to rest, not revisited again this year. Urge them to ask leadership to keep Arctic Refuge drilling revenues OUT of the budget!
Both the first President Bush and President Clinton issued presidential directives that banned oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, in Alaska's famous salmon-fishing grounds in Bristol Bay, off the coast of Virginia, and up and down the east and west coasts. Congress also has annually reaffirmed a moratorium on drilling off these protected coasts. But the current Bush administration wants a radical change to that policy.
In February, the federal Mineral Management Service released a new leasing plan that will open vast formerly protected areas to oil and gas drilling. But the proposal is open to public comment, though, and if citizens express enough outrage, the agency may withdraw its proposal. The comment period ends April 10, so don't wait to declare your support for rig-free coasts.
For Sierra Club environmental justice organizer Oliver Bernstein, who bounces back and forth across the U.S./Mexico border like a ping-pong ball, the biggest difference from one side to the other isn't the food or language, but what's considered "environmental." In Mexico, he is more likely to attend environmental meetings about the need to pave roads, build incinerators, or buy an SUV to reach rural communities than about, say, protecting migratory birds.
In an industrial area near Matamoros, at the eastern end of the border, Bernstein says one of the most pressing problems is that the streets and canals are filled with trash and they need to pave the road so the garbage trucks can get in and pick up the waste. Environmental concerns in Mexico are more often thought of as "basic services" north of the border -- things like safe drinking water and functioning sewage systems.
Read more from Bernstein in Grist's seven-week Poverty & the Environment series.
Who could forget President Bush's declaration in his State of the Union Address that we're "addicted to oil"? Although most Americans overwhelmingly support commonsense approaches such as better mpg standards, the politicos in Ted Rall's latest cartoon have their own creative ideas about how to kick the petroleum habit.
George Clooney took the Academy Award for his supporting role in Syriana, a complex geopolitical thriller that dramatized what even President Bush admits is our nation's addiction to oil. The Sierra Club has been a proud partner in outreach efforts associated with the film and continues to confront the causes and consequences of our oil dependency not only in our top priority Energy and Global Warming Campaign, but also on the movie's companion website, Oil Change, where Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope is a frequent blog contributor. In his acceptance speech, Clooney told the Academy he was proud to be part of a creative community that wasn't afraid to bring up uncomfortable subjects. Likewise, we're proud to be associated with Syriana and Oil Change.
Ending logging in Alaska's Tongass National Forest, protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and moving forward with massive investments in energy efficiency and renewables -- that sounds like the Sierra Club's platform. (And it is.) But it was the United Steelworkers Union President Leo Gerard who announced those policies last week in Pittsburgh as part of a formal alliance with the Sierra Club. Among the participants who fleshed out the policy and alliance were Club Executive Director Carl Pope and former House leader Richard Gephardt. Gephardt told Pope that "the Board of US Steel is not just a bunch of US Steel guys -- it's people who run dozens of other companies, and they know that the country is ahead of its leaders." Read more in Carl Pope's blog "Taking the Initiative."
View previous editions of the Sierra Club Insider at the Insider Archives.
Subscribe to the Sierra Club Insider.
Is your e-mail address changing? Let us know to ensure that you continue to receive Sierra Club Insider.
Know someone that would be interested in the Sierra Club Insider? Help spread the word by using our online form to tell your friends, family, and co-workers about the Insider or simply forward this Insider on. (Some email clients strip the links out of emails when forwarded. If your email does this, you can also direct friends, family, and co-workers
to our online version.)