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Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus
Chapter Chair's Column
Support cleaner energy
June 2010

Many of you are glued to televisions and computers watching the updates on the disastrous BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf. Only some of you may remember the oil drilling platform blowout that occurred off shore in Santa Barbara on January 28, 1969. The Santa Barbara spill was estimated at 100,000 barrels of oil and the slick covered 800 square miles including 35 miles of shoreline.

The BP spill is already over a million barrels and spreading with catastrophic consequences for wildlife and public health. The Country’s dependency on oil has created an industry that is out of control. Deep water drilling practices such as BP and other companies employ now involve drilling much deeper than in the past. The Deepwater Horizon well has been reported to have been drilled possibly as deep as 25,000 feet compared to less than 200 feet in Santa Barbara.

Are there any other, safer sources for cheap oil? Not really. Oil from tar sands has been proposed by a Canadian pipeline company called Keystone XL and has already been researched and opposed by the Sierra Club. Tar sands oil is literally the dirtiest fuel out there—its production generates three times as many greenhouse gases as traditional crude and consumes up to five barrels of water for one barrel of oil.

Environmental groups can pressure legislators and agencies to wield better control of resource industry practices, but the better policy is for everyone to reduce their dependency on oil. There are very real consequences for the public’s demand for cheap energy. We all need to support cleaner, safer sources of energy now.

—Rita Dalessio

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