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May 03, 2010

Car and Flight-Needy with Oil Spills as Proof

Pretty eh? Imagine it soaked with oil.

You've undoubtedly heard about what's happening in The Gulf of Mexico off the state of Louisiana but with a reach as seeping as the approximately 5,000 barrels of oil a day now spilling and threatening the ecosystems off the coast of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.

Eleven people were killed in the explosion of an oil rig leased by BP Petroleum. The Louisiana fishing industry has been decimated and may be permanently wiped out. This spill seems headed towards topping  the Exxon Valdez 1989 spill of 10.8 million gallons in Alaska and is an unprecedented environmental (and economic) disaster.

There has yet to be an explanation for the explosion on the rig that was 50 miles off Louisiana. The well was 1500 metres below the surface. According to the story in The Globe and Mail, the first response was unhelpful (to say the least) given that fire boats began pumping massive streams of water onto the rig.

Mike Miller, CEO of a Calgary-based company called SafetyBOSS Inc. which gained notoriety for its ability to handle burning oil wells in Kuwait, said that was a mistake. "Why they put the fire out is beyond me," he said in the weekend's Globe article. He said the fire would have burned the oil, had it been left to burn. To make matters worse, a key safety device - known as a blowout preventer - failed to function.  BP officials have not explained why that device malfunctioned.  The solution at this point is looking to be 2-3 months worth of work away and the resultant decimation of the ecosystems and sensitive wildlife/bird habitat.

I was thinking about about how I contribute to this problem as a result of my dependence on my car more now than ever. The only other time I've driven my car as much as I do now, living on this little idyllic Gulf Island, is when I commuted to SFU from Langley as a student in my early 20s. Isn't it ironic that to live downtown on Robson Street actually means living a more environmentally-friendly existence than living on a Gulf Island. I walked almost everywhere downtown because of the sheer frustration of parking and paying for it. That was a good thing.

Learn more about why this issue is an accident waiting to happen right in our own backyard. There are three levels of risk: exploration, tankers moving down the coast, and a pipeline.

Visit The Dogwood Initiative for more information and Action.

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