Come Talk to the BOEM

oilAt 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.

The BOEM is one of the remnants of the implosion of the Minerals Management Service that was renamed as a result of the sex for oil drilling contracts scandal (government officials handling oil royalties engaged in sex with energy company employees in 2008) as well as the Deepwater Horizon disaster. In other words, despite past efforts to use good science to decide what to do, 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 is a totally political tool of mass destruction.

Nevertheless, it is 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 February 28, it is time to remind them again with press conferences, rallies and a strong turn-out at the hearing.

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 when it comes to Providence on February 28 at 3pm at the Providence Marriott for a public meeting (Hint: Come pay the BOEM a visit and let them know what you think). 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 incredible ecosystems based on cold water deep water corals that shelter all manner of life.

Others will talk of beaches, tourism, the bay as an economic asset, fishing and how Rhode Island is a place we want to be and how what is proposed is a major threat (especially the inevitable oil spills) to much of what we hold dear.   Others will point out how this will further concentrate 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 his next campaign, and that if it is not political then every governor who wants an exemption should get one for their 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 doo-doo and it will be hot as hell with fires, floods, droughts and storms ever more destructive, and the economy, ecosystems and food supply collapsing as our cities go underwater. I hope the BOEM is really listening and that the important truths that they hear are properly recorded and reported, and really influence the decision as to whether this is a good idea. But I sort of doubt it.

Finally some 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 the offshore oil drilling. I really want to cheer this idea. About two years ago, I started talking and writing about the idea of building no new fossil fuel infrastructure ever again. I base it on a simple idea: If we are to get to zero emissions by 2035, something that is absolutely necessary if we are to avoid the worst problems of climate change, then essentially we have to stop building any fossil fuel infrastructure right now. If we build new infrastructure that lasts for 40 years, we either go broke paying for stranded assets when we close them next year, or we crash through 450 ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (we are at 404 ppm now) and sea levels rise, hurricanes get stronger, fires more destructive and refugees become ever more numerous.

I believe that the climate crisis is the existential crisis of our time, and that how we react to what is happening with carbon pollution will be a key component of what civilization does in the next century and will determine whether western industrial civilization thrives or crashes and burns.

I also see many people dying unnecessarily due to climate change that could be prevented and mitigated, and I believe that climate denial and the ramping up of the fossil fuel industries are crimes against humanity. My definition is simple. What they are doing is already killing people in large numbers and creating refugees in the untold millions.

The BOEM meeting is not structured like a hearing; we do not get to speak to each other, only to the BOEM employees, and they are mostly there to answer questions. So come with questions for them. 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? Allowing this project to go forward will result in more people dying unnecessarily and much sooner than if we had followed policies and practices that were actually based on facts and science. How do you feel to be part of a charade, a game to pull one over on the American people and kill many of them? Does it stifle you as a human being to have to take orders from a monster with its head in the sand?   Do you feel you are serving the American people by promulgating policy based on lies that you know will harm people and planet?

Of course I do not really expect to get answers.

We face a crisis, and the people of Rhode Island are united. What the Orange Haired Monster in Chief offers is insane. Come let his minions know and hope that they are so overwhelmed that the truth actually reaches the swamp in DC.

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