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Swimming a Nautical Mile in Another Person’s Web-Feet Printer friendly page Print This
By Mankh (Walter E. Harris III), Axis of Logic
Axis of Logic
Sunday, May 24, 2015

"Oil-spill" by US Gov NOAA - US Gov NOAA. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Yes, ’n’ how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn’t see?
                                                                                  - Bob Dylan
Pelicans do not carry box-cutters.
Orcas do not act suspiciously in airports.
Dolphins do not blow up mosques, temples, antiquities, and they don’t destroy ancient cultures, nor do they drone-bomb civilians/human beings.
Billed as another “spill,” how would it change things if pathological carelessness was referred to as a terrorist act? I am not being overly dramatic. Put yourself in the skin of a pelican; wouldn’t an oil-slick coming at and then coating you scare the hell out of you?
The company responsible for the recent terrorist act near Santa Barbara, off the coast of California, has this reported track record:
“Plains All American and its subsidiaries operate more than 6,000 miles of hazardous liquid pipelines in at least 20 states, according to company reports. Those companies handle more than 4 million barrels of crude and other liquid fuels daily. Since 2006, the companies have reported 199 accidents and been subject to 22 enforcement actions by federal regulators. The accidents resulted in a combined 725,500 gallons of hazardous liquids spilled and damage topping $25 million.”[1]

Another statistic reads differently:

“According to the EPA and U.S. Justice Department, Plains All-American Pipeline has had 11 serious crude oil spills in five states that included: Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas and California.”[2]
Either way, it’s a lot of spills and/or terrorist acts; and besides, what about applying criminal justice along the lines of dealing with repeat offenders?

They repeat what they sow
Remember the relentless TV/online footage of the BP Macondo blowout aka Deepwater Horizon oil spill/terrorist act pouring oil into the Gulf of Mexico? Were not people terrified, wondering when it would stop?
“The findings are the latest results from the Deepwater Horizon National Resource Damage Assessment, an ongoing investigation by NOAA into the spill, the largest offshore oil spill in United States history. Combined with previous studies by the agency, this paper provides additional support to a link between the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 and mass dolphin deaths in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.”[3]
To be fair and balanced:

“The study was criticized by BP, which owned the well that blew out. It issued a statement saying that 'the data we have seen thus far, including the new study from NOAA, do not show that oil from the Deepwater Horizon accident caused an increase in dolphin mortality.'”[4]

Shrimp fishing, the economy and lifestyle of the United Houma Nation have been threatened.

According to a news video, the United Houma Nation has said that BP never helped them because they are not a federally recognized tribe.[5] The layers to the fascist avoidance of responsibility are evident.

Remember Exxon Valdez?

Greg Palast cites various angles in his book Vulture's Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates, and High-Finance Carnivores. He quotes an Eyak (Native) elder: “I had to watch an otter rip out its own eyes trying to get out the oil.” Palast further adds: “The Eyak, Tatitlek, and other Chugach Natives have lived in the Sound for three thousand years, maybe more... It was March 24, four minutes after midnight, 1989, when [Chief Gary] Kompkoff witnessed the moment when three thousand years of Chugach history came to an end...”[6]
The following report on the Exxon Valdez side effects is from 2014:
“The government considers, as of 2010, only 13 of the 32 monitored wildlife populations, habitats and resource services that were injured in the spill as fully 'recovered' or 'very likely recovered.' Some are still listed today as 'not recovering.' This includes a pod of orcas, which lost 15 of its 22 members after the spill, and has not produced a calf since. Given only one older female is left, scientists appear certain that this unique pod of orcas will go extinct -- it's just a matter of time. The government conclusion is that 'there appears to be no hope for recovery.'

“The 'not recovering' list also includes Pacific herring, one of the sound's keystone species. Once the source of a vibrant commercial fishery, herring declined so precipitously that a fishery closed, and has not reopened. … Whether it's Prince William Sound or the Gulf of Mexico, seldom is more than 10% of the spilled oil recovered."[7]
Remember Texaco/Chevron?
“'The disaster caused in the Ecuadorean forest is worse than that of Exxon Valdez in Alaska or BP in the Gulf of Mexico,' the president [Rafael Correa of Ecuador] posted to his official Twitter account. 'The worst difference is that those were accidents, what Chevron did was deliberate.

“Correa continued to encourage those who doubted that it was a crime to 'put their hand in the pools left by Chevron. 25 years (after the disaster) that hand will come out black from oil.'”[8]
And more side effects:
“The oil exploration and exploitation operations of Texaco, a sister company to Chevron, which were carried out between 1964 and 1995 in the north of the Ecuadorean Amazon, had lethal effects on two million hectares of ground, vegetation, rivers and estuaries.”[9]
Oil makers and water activists mix
But the future of oil is not a done deal. Billed as the Paddle In Seattle protest, Indigenous Peoples' canoes (including the Lummi Tribe from the state of Washington) and what are being called kayaktivists gathered in the Port of Seattle where a Shell rig is parked; Shell has plans to head to the Arctic for more drilling.[10]

“Our culture and livelihood is dependent on the bowhead, the walrus, the seal and the fish. How can Shell go ahead with such a risky operation when peoples lives are at stake?” asks Mae Hank (Iñupiat). “Shell has a 75% chance of a spill in the region if it moves forward with drilling. Shell simply cannot
be trusted with such operations.”[11]

And not only are the protesters on the ground, er, water, they have taken the message directly to Shell shareholder meetings in the Netherlands and London.

“Mae from Point Hope, on the shores of the Chukchi Sea, addresses the Board in her own Iñupiat language. After a few words of greeting, she slips into English: 'I came here two years ago to ask the question I ask again today. How will Shell compensate us for any spill that kills our food? How will they compensate 50 generations, to keep them going through the winter? You are coming into our ocean, which provides our food security annually. We rely on the ocean for our food. I am a grandmother with 17 grandkids. My grandchildren are so afraid right now that with a 75% chance of an oil spill, they will never be able to eat our traditional food again.'”[12]

Shell already has a toxic legacy in the Niger Delta and Canadian tar sands. Also, “...threats now imposed upon the Iñupiat people by Royal Dutch Shell and other multi-national oil companies’ efforts to drill in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas of the Arctic Ocean. This is a direct threat to the Iñupiat and their rights to continue to live their traditional whaling culture which the Iñupiat have done for thousands of years.”[13]
So what happened at one of the meetings?

“... members of the Native Village of Point Hope, Alaska and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) attended the Royal Dutch Shell AGM to confront the Chairman and Board over Shell's decision to pursue highly risky 'extreme energy' projects without adequate consultation and accommodation of Indigenous communities.”[14]
“Shell faced a barrage of questions from a female indigenous delegation from the Arctic who raised concerns about the real risks associated with drilling in the Arctic. The meeting showed a schizophrenic Shell moving between committing to climate action on one had whilst continuing to sink money into highly polluting tar sands and reckless offshore Arctic drilling. … 'Listening to the board today I was convinced more than ever that this company is not to be trusted with our collective energy future and we cannot stand by and watch them make decisions that will commit us to climate suicide,'” said Suzanne Dhaliwal, director of the UK Tar Sands Network.[15]
Still blowin'
How many fish and birds have been terrified due to Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant radioactive water pouring into the Pacific Ocean?

“Roughly 1.2 million acres, including 500 mountains, have been flattened by mountaintop removal coal mining in the central Appalachian region.”[16] How many birds, fish, and mayflies[17] have been terrified due to mountain top removal blasting with subsequent effects on streams in the Appalachian Mountains? 

How many common folk have been terrified for their very survival by having their water shut off or their houses foreclosed due to corporate-state-banksters?
The blowback from these terrorist acts is not some ambiguous specter in the future; it is already here.
How many will continue to fill their tanks at local BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell gas stations?

When will shareholders learn to truly share?

Mankh (Walter E. Harris III) is an essayist and resident poet on Axis of Logic. In addition to his work as a writer, he is a small press publisher and Turtle Islander. His new book is “Drive-thru Theofascism & The Hero's Journey.” He also hosts an audio show "Between the Lines: listening to literature online."

You can contact him via his literary website. 


1. “Santa Barbara Oil Spill Spurred Environmental Movement”

2. Plains All American Pipeline
3. “Study Links Dolphin Deaths to Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill”

4. Ibid.
5. “Houma Indians struggle
6.  Vulture's Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates, and High-Finance Carnivores, Dutton, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2011, p.11.
7. “After 25 years, Exxon Valdez oil spill hasn't ended
8. “Chevron caused Amazon oil disaster deliberately
9. Ibid.
10. “Seattle Indigenous Kayaks Block Shell Arctic Drilling Rig
11. “Indigenous activists to confront Shell in Hague and London to halt Arctic drilling
12. “Stranding the Leviathan – a report from the Shell AGM in Den Haag, Netherlands
13. “Indigenous Activists Reach Westminster Shell Investor Meeting
14. “THE HAGUE Alaskan Native Women Confront Shell with Risks of Drilling in Arctic
15.  “Shell Fails to Respond to Questions at Annual General Meeting about Environmental and Climate Risks Associated with Arctic Drilling and Tar Sands
16. “Mountaintop Removal reclamation
17. “Ecological Impacts of Mountaintop Removal”

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