It's been quite the whirlwind of activity here on the gulf coast. I took a couple weeks to slow down prior to moving and I'm so glad I did, if only to have memories of what it was like to not be completely exhausted, overwhelmed, single handly keeping the coffee industry in business, and hit by one of my worst allergy seasons to date. My brain is foggy, my eyes can hardly open, and the amount of snot rolling out of my nose reminds me of You Can't Do That On Television skits.
The great thing about this completely overwhelming experience is that I get to visit places like Apalachicola Bay in northwestern Florida. One of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. I am working out a plan to one day buy a house and kayak everyday there as we speak. I have tons of photos that I'm hoping to get up real soon. It was a wonderful place to work after three days of strategic planning or how my team likes to call it Renee! (that's how they write my name) herding cats.
Three days of strategic planning that had been put off for 10 months in Mobile, AL. It ended up being a wonderful experience, but fuck that was hard. There was more than once when I put my head in my hands while the team was working on something and said to myself how the fuck do I get out of this. But if I have learned anything over the past 6 years of my career, it's there is always a solution.
I'll be honest, though, its not just the workload and the allergies that are so overwhelming. It's seeing the impacts still being felt by communities in the wake of the BP oil disaster. People who have quickly become family are really sick, still in the midst of chaos while the rest of the world has seemed to just gone on with their life, and my team is looking to me to help fill a lot of gaps and add capacity to their own workloads and problem solving. On my team I have junior league women from Mobile, a Basque transplant and former commercial fishermen who has lived in the bayous for 30 years bent on bringing down corporate corruption, a president of LA Shrimper's Association, and a former state water management official. It's quite a powerful and inspiring bunch when working in concert.
Onw husband and wife combo on my team, who make their living on the water, have been out of work since April, except for a brief stint working to clean up oil for BP. Having to stop our strategic planning meeting because more than one person had a caughing fit and needs to do a breathing treatment in the back office and then watch their body react to the steroids, makes you wonder what the fuck you have been doing since April 20 and who the fuck do you think you are thinking you have any answers.
My morning runs have become much more important. The fog rolling over the Mississippi is really quite exceptional at dawn. Though sneezing all over the other runners is frowned upon I've learned.
Yesterday I attended the second a series of three public scoping meeting for BOEMRE, the agency that replaced MMS, the federal agency that regulates the oil and gas industry. The scoping meeting was to get public input on expanding offshore drilling. There were the usual industry suspects making statements about the benefits of the oil and gas industry and how we can't judge the entire industry because of one little spill. Community members impacted by the spill and environmental advocates got up one after the other to say that we must not expand our drilling practice until we begin to make changes to the problem that results in 87 days of oil gushing into the Gulf and the poisoning of hundreds of thousands of people all along the gulf coast. A retired woman from the industry sighed while fishermen explained that they are sick and that the seafood is unsafe and that we must take precautions when thinking of adding more drilling. She sighed at them, like they were making it all up.
I said this was going to be a gumbo. So here are some things I find interesting.
Bridge The Gulf
Louisiana Environmental Action Network
BOEMRE is holding public meetings to collect comments on the environmental impact statement of expanding drilling leases in the Gulf (including Florida), Arctic, and Alaska. Send in comments to BOEMRE asking them to not expand drilling before they put in place the recommendations of the Oil Spill Commission or if you are of the more progressive kind - end offshore drilling). You can email your comments here: MultisaleEIS@BOEMRE.gov
Not sure what to say, here are some points:
(1) In order to ensure public participation, BOEMRE must be more transparent and include public meetings that are scheduled at times and in places that the public can attend, evenings, weekends and in community centers, not airport hotels.
(2) There must be no expansion of offshore drilling before the recommendations of the oil spill commission are implemented.
(3) We now know the industry does not have the technology to clean up worst case scenarios, we must work from this point forward from that starting place, not by the industry word that they can clean up and stop any spill. The 87 days of the BP oil spill disaster has proven this.
(4) All new permits must come in front of a citizen advisory council.
(5) There must be a citizen advisory council set up with decision making powers.
Your comments are due no later than March 31, but you might was well send them in right now. Just copy and paste my points and add anything else you are interested in saying about the impacts of the BP oil spill disaster. Feel free to paste what you sent in the comments section below.
Don't forget to come visit me in New Orleans.