Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez



It's important to remember, every year on March 24, the night the Exxon Valdez was driven on the rocks of Bligh Reef, a weapon of mass destruction turned loose on the life of Prince William Sound.

The Exxon Valdez oil spill was no accident. It was the result of years of political maneuvering, abrogation of responsibility by state and federal agencies, thousands of dollars of bribes in the form of "political contributions" to those responsible for the safety of the tanker lanes leading out of the Alyeska Marine Terminal Facility across Valdez Arm from the sleepy town bearing its name.

Not much has changed sine 1989. Nine hundred foot long tankers still travel back and forth across the roughest seas in the world, laden with toxic crude. Though there is more spill clean-up equipment in Prince William Sound nowadays, a spill in a winter storm could still result in an entire cargo of oil released into the Sound, and nothing could be done about it.

If anything, it's worse now. The corporate oligarchy is in full control, enforcing with vigor its totalitarian capitalist hegemony over the people of the United States, and most of the rest of the world. Corporations are secure in their legal personhood, the insurance industry has a new law, bought and paid for, mandating citizens of the United States to buy their products, under penalty of the law. Oil is $82 a gallon and climbing, slowly working to a new spike as the economy "improves."

Back in 1989, we were shocked that such a thing could happen, dismayed that the careful systems of control promised by Alyeska could break down so severely, outraged that Alyeska took so long to deploy what little spill equipment they had on hand.

We were so naive.

Now we know it was just business as usual, minimize costs, increase profits, just what anyone would suspect a respectable corporate citizen to do.

And still the oil seeps into the sands of Prince William Sound, through the veins and the genes of the animals and plant that still manage to live in their only home.