Editor’s note: The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is currently accepting public comment on its proposal for offshore drilling along the East and West coasts. The scheduled public workshop for Jan. 25 at the Marriott hotel, 1 Orms St. in Providence, from 3-7 p.m., has been postponed because of government shutdown.
By GREG GERRITT
At the behest of the head-in-the-sand Orange Haired Monster and his band of enablers, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will be hosting a public meeting in Providence, as well as many other places around the country, to give us a dog and pony show on how good it is to drill for oil through the outer continental shelf. This is part of the total energy dominance strategy of Me First and what can I do for my friends that the narcissist-in-chief seems to think makes sense.
BOEM is one of the remnants of the implosion of the Minerals Management Service that was renamed as a result of a sex-for-oil-drilling-contracts scandal, as well as the Deepwater Horizon disaster. In other words, despite efforts to use good science to decide what to do in the past, the agency has always been tasked with catering to the needs of the fossil-fuel drillers. In the past, the agency was at least expected to use actual science to figure out where not to drill, and to maintain safety standards. It may have totally let us down, but that was the standard, and there were repercussions when the mania got out of control.
Hence the BOEM.
Most of the employees at the BOEM are career civil servants, often people with advanced degrees and special knowledge of the work they were doing, though they are always overseen by political minders. Now, it’s a totally political tool of mass destruction.
Nevertheless, it’s more than likely that at least a goodly number of the professional scientific staff of the BOEM knows just how much of a problem we are having with greenhouse-gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and the likelihood of ever more damage and destruction as the planet warms. And on Jan. 25 it’s time to remind them again.
I regularly talk with many environmental activists and professionals as part of my job, so I have a pretty good idea what various colleagues will say to the BOEM officials. Rhode Islanders will talk about how oil drilling will damage the ecosystems and biodiversity of the outer continental shelf, and how valuable the shelf is as habitat and as a source of food and recreation. How the canyons at the edge of the shelf have abundant life based on cold-water deep-sea corals that shelter all manner of life.
Others will talk of beaches, tourism, Narragansett Bay as an economic asset, fishing, and how what is proposed is a major threat to much of what we hold dear. Some will note how this will concentrate further the pollution in lower-income communities that are already subject to an overload of petrochemicals and fossil fuels. All things the BOEM needs to hear.
A few will mention how totally political this operation is, with Florida getting an exemption simply because its Republican governor needs some environmental cover in in his next campaign. If it’s not political, then every governor who wants an exemption should get one for his or her state. As far as I know, only the screwball Paul LePage in Maine has asked to be drilled.
Many will speak of climate change and how if we burn all of the fossil fuels on the planet we shall be in really big trouble, with more heat, fires, floods, droughts, and storms and ever more destruction to the economy, ecosystems and the food supply.
I hope the BOEM is really listening and that the important truths that they hear are properly recorded and reported, and influence the decision as to whether this is a good idea. But I sort of doubt it.
Others will mention that the proposal to drill has brought on a slew of bills in legislatures from coast to coast, as states contemplate banning the creation/siting of infrastructure to service offshore oil drilling.
The Jan. 25 BOEM meeting isn’t structured like a hearing. We don’t get to speak to each other, only to the BOEM officials, and they are mostly there to answer questions. So come with questions. The questions I have include how do you live with yourself knowing how much of the policy is based on lies, on climate denial, and on the willingness of the president to allow crimes against humanity?
Of course, I don’t really expect to get answers. I asked similar questions last fall of the Navy when they pulled a similar dog and pony show around the right to kill whales while they train to kill people. They answered like good government employees who had removed their consciences: those questions were above their pay grade.
We face a crisis, and the people of Rhode Island are united. What the Orange Haired Monster offers is insane. Come let his minions know that they are so overwhelmed that the truth actually reaches the swamp in D.C.
Providence resident Greg Gerritt is the founder of Prosperity for Rhode Island.