Tuesday, 31 March 2009
Sarah Palin and the volcano
"Fortunately Redoubt has been giving us signs that it was bound to blow sometime this spring," Sarah Palin said. "These warning signs gave Alaskans in Southcentral time to protect their belongings, educate their families, and stock up on air filters and other essential protective gear."
Unfortunately, the Governor didn't take any steps about the Chevron crude oil tanks sited at the base of the volcano before it erupted. She didn't question Chevron or request they drain the tanks while the volcano was still calm despite the appeals from Cook Inletkeeper.
Now it's not safe to drain the tanks and the arrangements for dealing with a possible spill are inadequate. There are 6 million gallons of crude stocked at the base of an erupting volcano that had been giving signs that it was bound to blow.
Alaskans who depend on fishing for their survival know very well how a major oil spill affects their livelihoods. The Exxon Valdez disaster has proved that the oil industry is irresponsible and unaccountable. After 20 years of litigation, the people affected by the spill received $12,000 each as compensation for their losses.
Exxon likes to say how they spent billions of dollars in the clean-up operation, which was inadequate and introduced further pollutants into the waters of Prince William Sound. It made the oil "invisible", but 20 years on, people can fill jars with the crude that keeps popping up. They didn't spend billions in the operation, they claimed it from their insurance companies. Exxon's costs amounted to not much more than the criminal and civil settlements, including the paltry compensation paid to the people who had their lives destroyed. Who knows, they might have been insured for some of that as well!
"We can safely and responsibly develop our resources." That's what Sarah Palin, the foremost energy expert in the country, is fond of saying.
Chevron must have figured that with the levels of safety and responsibility required, it was cheaper to leave the oil sitting there, risk a major spill and they would still be in in the money.
Exxon got off lightly by blaming the drunk captain of the tanker. Chevron can blame the volcano. Mt Redoubt wouldn't even have to serve 1000 hours community service like drunk captain Hazelwood.
If the Chevron oil spills, Alaskans and the rest of the world will blame the Governor's accommodating attitude to the big oil industry she "took on", together with her inability and unwillingness to deal with any crisis that cross her path.
Further reading about Chevron: Shannyn Moore, Progressive Alaska, AKMuckraker