Ben Dover: “Stick it up your tailpipe!”

by sherry mann

Mississippi Governor, Haley Barbour is still in political containment mode with such quotes as, “We’re going to fight it every step of the way, and we do not take for granted that this is going to be catastrophic” while millions of gallons of oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico, and the full cataclysmic nature of the recent BP drilling rig explosion will be taken for granted as a crude reality.

Although the AP (American Propaganda) prefers to discuss the economic ramifications, the greater aftermath will be felt in the natural world. Innumerable living creatures will die or be irreparably harmed from the suffocating, poisoning and starvation effects of the petrol-chemicals now in and around the Gulf, but it is the landfall damage caused by the fast approaching hurricane season which may outweigh even that devil’s brew.

Just three weeks from now, hurricane season will officially begin, and while I am by no means a weather expert, isn’t it common knowledge that when a hurricane passes through an area, it sucks up the water from one place and dumps it out everywhere else?

Of course, there are a number of unknown factors at play and even the experts don’t know how oil, seawater and hurricanes will interact.

So, what could happen if a hurricane passed through the Gulf and deposited polluted water across the eastern seaboard? Is it possible that this would pollute the soil and ground water over a vast swath of America?

If past hurricane routes are any indication, then the above map is an apt illustration of those areas that may become polluted, and the black trails carry a particularly ominous foreshadowing of what may lie ahead.

National Hurricane Center meteorologist Dennis Feltgen hypothesized that since storms are fueled in part by evaporation from the sea surface, a sufficiently thick layer of oil might weaken the process of evaporation which fuels the energy of tropical storms and hurricanes. On the other hand, Felton indicated that between storm surges and high winds, the oil would be carried inland.

Much of Alaska’s 1300 miles of Valdez shoreline was polluted 2000 yards inland, but obviously, Alaska doesn’t share the same hurricane weather patterns. And while this spill may be America’s first tropical oil spill, it isn’t the first to hit the Gulf.

Ixtoc I was an exploratory oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, which was about 160 ft. deep. On 3 June 1979, the well suffered a blowout and is recognized as the largest accidental spill in history. An average of approximately ten thousand to thirty thousand barrels per day were discharged into the Gulf until it was finally capped nine months later on 23 March 1980.

Unfortunately, 30 years of such epic oil spills seem to have taught us little, as half measures have been taken over the past three weeks to vainly “contain” the spill while discussions to cap it have only just begun.  Yet in this morning’s New York Times the first ray of hope appeared: “Engineers and scientists at BP’s command center in Houston had drafted plans to work on and around an underwater blowout preventer, a massive safety device that is designed to seal an oil well in an emergency but failed to do so after the explosion at the rig on April 20.” According to an anonymous BP official cited in the article, plans for such “equipment was being put in place on the seabed for three intervention options that potentially could stop the spill within weeks rather than months.”

That is a welcome change in rhetoric, but if it is true that we may be facing “oil hurricanes” in the very near future as we have experienced acid rain in the past, then the result would be massive pollution runoff into our rivers, lakes, and streams, and the eastern half of our country could experience a very dark and oily future.

Kate Alexander of the Prince William Sound Science Center in Cordova, Alaska said that 21 years after the Exxon Valdez disaster, “It just smells like a gas station. It’s a very disturbing experience, but very real.”

But such realities will never be important to slick politicians such as Senators Jon Kyl and Pat Roberts who are being accused on some blogs as basically telling reporters, “Drill, baby, drill” and say the Gulf spill actually lends credibility to proposals to drill in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). It is not surprising that Jon Kyl has received 511.5 K and Pat Roberts has received 354.9 k in campaign donations from energy and natural resources industries.

This crude political climate and resulting environmental waste is more than enough to fuel my anger for these corporations and “our” corporatist government, yet it is the immeasurable waste of innovative talent which has been derailed by those same interests which has me ready to blow a dead man’s switch of my own!

Most of us have seen the Sony film, Who killed the electric car?, but there is a new concept car which does not use gasoline or even electricity–but runs on air. It is being used in countries like India, but the US has put up what have proved to be insurmountable roadblocks for its introduction.

The vehicle costs $7,000 – 15,000, has a top speed of 68 mph if using air only, or 150 mph if using its dual engine which allows for both compressed air and a wide variety of fuels. It can go approximately 150 miles with each fill up which costs two bucks.

If concept cars like this already exist, then why are we fighting wars for oil and chanting “drill baby drill,” when we could turn our struggle toward a technology which would ultimately solve all of the problems these oil companies seem hellbent on creating? Furthermore, why exactly do we have to fight for the right to use such innovative products at all?

In the Electric Car movie, “eco-pioneer” S. David Freeman said, “The oil industry and the automobile companies are resistant to change. [And the winner of the understatement of the year goes to…] The American people need to be reminded that it took a law to get seatbelts in the cars. It took a law to get airbags in the cars. It took a law to get the mileage up from 12 to 20 miles per gallon. It took a law to get catalytic converters to control the pollution. And I think clean cars are too important to be left to the automobile industry.”

Obviously, to politicians such as Kyl and Roberts, propping up oil companies like BP and Halliburton is far more important than such progress, and the interests of oil companies like these are only slightly more important than helping out their friends in the automotive industry…who of course donated $224.3 K to Senator Roberts $388.3 K to Senator Kyl. While these figures seem exorbitant, the truth is, they are the only two legislators whose donations I bothered to look up!

Maybe we should be honest and change our names to Ben Dover or Constance Noring and keep quiet about some of the new technologies until “our” corporate rulers altruistically offer an alternative to our “modern cars”–which after a century of “innovation” get worse gas mileage than the Model T.*

Or…maybe we should tell the all the oil companies and American automakers to “Stick it up your tailpipe!”

*Car Mileage: 1908 Ford Model T – 25 MPG
EPA Average All Cars in 2008 – 21 MPG

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