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Monday, Aug 25, 2008, 4:12 pm

Offshore drilling and Katrina

By Jarrett Dapier
(Warning: the following post will have nothing to do with Bill Clinton's frosty regard for Barack Obama).

Facing South, a top-notch progressive blog of the Institute for Southern Studies, balks at a New York Times article on Louisiana's coastal erosion for its conspicuous failure to address the effects of offshore drilling on the state's wetlands and coastal communities.

The Times report attributes Louisiana's land loss solely to the building of the levee system. And it's certainly true that levees have worsened wetlands losses by preventing the routine deposit of land-building sediments. But there are other critical factors exacerbating Louisiana's land loss that the Times fails to mention.

Like offshore drilling for oil and gas.

Offshore drilling operations carve out channels in coastal wetlands for exploration as well as for transporting resources back to the mainland. Those channels in turn provide a route for Gulf waters to wash inland, the salinity eventually killing trees and other plants that help stabilize land, further exacerbating its erosion.

To date, oil and gas companies have dug an estimated 10,000 miles of canals across the state's wetlands...

...Offshore oil and gas operations are eroding coastal wetlands, ocean levels are rising due to global climate disruption, while a warmer atmosphere is intensifying tropical storms and hurricanes. The situation has resulted in an ongoing disaster for Louisiana.


Rightly so, Facing South notes that at a time when our Democratic-controlled Congress is making noises about opening up southeastern America's coastal lands to offshore drilling - a move that does not guarantee oil for Americans - the effects of such short-sighted policy must be countenanced. Disastrous is not too strong a word for this latest imminent cave-in on the part of the Dems. It's another reason we MUST build the movement, as our esteemed fellow-blogger David Sirota keeps reminding us, that will hold Barack Obama accountable for each in the ever-growing litany of his political capitulations.



Jarrett Dapier is a former assistant publisher at In These Times. Previous work for ITT includes interviews with playwright Christopher Shinn and Fugazi guitarist, Ian Mackaye. He currently works with teens at the Evanston Public Library where he runs a recycled drumming program and directs stage adaptations of young adult literature. He lives in Evanston, IL.

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