Obama: 'Offshore Drilling Is a Bridge to the US Energy Future.' Try a Stretcher!
Friday, 02 April 2010 00:00  |  Written by Marita Prandoni | Commentary

Oil Spill Area photo by Ingrid TaylarPresident Obama’s announcement this week to sacrifice North America’s east coast to offshore drilling should have come as no surprise. His January State of the Union address jolted my sensibilities when he laid out his clean-energy menu to include “clean” coal, more nuclear plants and offshore drilling. I distinctly remember Vice President Biden’s and Speaker Pelosi’s animated applause at that moment and felt my stomach go sour.

This move by Obama appears to be motivated by a political need to placate the party of “hell no” after his recent health insurance reform victory. Ironically, he wants to butter up the Republicans to support a bill intended to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, but his administration is willing to exploit more of the very sources of those emissions. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said it was a step in the right direction but that the president was leaving too many exploratory areas off limits. The signals of global climate change definitely have not yet entered the orbits of insulated, last-century elitists.

To soften the blow to environmentalists, President Obama promised new requirements for more fuel-efficient cars and trucks. He rationalized, “This issue is just too important to allow our progress to languish while we fight the same old battles.” I now understand my negative reaction. It all comes down to how one understands “our progress” and “the same old battles.” I understand progress to mean moving away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy while promoting peace around the world. To me, “the same old battles” means a national agenda characterized by unharnessed fossil-fuel extraction and consumption while pursuing world military dominance and bankrupting the nation. Obviously, I have it backwards.

For politicians who lack the vision to see beyond anthropocentric wants and comforts, progress means developing “vital energy sources to maintain our economic growth and our security,” as the President offered. Sadly, like the incorrigible smoker on a stretcher, alternately drawing on his final cigarette and grasping for his oxygen tank, the president’s interpretation of vital energy sources is the same addiction that threatens to extinguish our misguided species.

What? Rhode Island is experiencing its most ferocious flooding in over 200 years? No connection to greenhouse-gas emissions there. What? The environmental load of petrochemically derived endocrine disruptors is associated with the explosive epidemic of diabetes, heart disease and cancer that is collapsing the health care system? No connection to fossil fuels there. What? Both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are now choked with massive whirlpools of plastic that threaten marine life? Heck, the Gulf of Mexico is already a dead zone. Let’s drill there.

Surely there is enough ingenuity in America to pursue existing paths of renewable energy technologies to a successful conclusion for our society, our economy and our planet. I believe that most of us embrace a broader worldview that includes the welfare of other nations and species on the planet, a worldview compatible with renewable energy but not our fossil-fuel addiction. Given the high stakes, many if not most of us are willing to make personal sacrifices to move to a conservation economy—if we aren’t already. Obama should take a leadership role in this regard as he promised during his campaign for president, rather than back down without a fight.

Comments (5)add
Written by Heather , April 07, 2010
Great post, Marita!
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Written by dionycio padilla , April 04, 2010
I'd love to read a collection of your writings in book form. Dionycio
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Written by John Browne , April 02, 2010
Damning "the petrochemical industry" for the development & proliferation of endocrine disruptors is a bit like damning mothers for giving birth to "future soldiers". This really goes to the 'pragmatic' American quality of opting for "the quick fix"- with little regard to history & no regard for the future- that has become politically enshrined in our "national character".
Maybe a catastrophic oil spill along our most vulnerable & highly populated coastline is the only message that "we" will heed, re our profligate energy (ab)use. The hypocrisy around siting wind turbines off Cape Cod won't be forgotten soon... in some quarters. ^..^
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Written by juliew , April 02, 2010
Amen!! Well said.
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Written by marthA A JOHNSON , April 02, 2010
Go Marita Go. Good Job. Marty
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