Dauphin Island, Alabama is a special place. It is a barrier island located at western side of the mouth of Mobile Bay. It is unpretentious, quiet and beautiful. If you don’t like sand, fishing, boating, laying out in the sun or reading, you are in the wrong place. There are no chains of any type, save one gas station and a convenience store. The few restaurants here are cheap and you get what you pay for.
Many friends from afar who have had the pleasure of vegging on this strip of sand have sent me emails after seeing news about the unfolding oil spill. They invariably include something along the lines of "we are so sorry about your issue down there." They are heartfelt and I have taken them as such. But what I don’t think people understand that this is not a Gulf Coast problem, it is a world problem. And it’s not just Big Oil.
Each day brings a new revelation about how politics, money and greed (the real axis of evil?) have resulted in lax regulations and oversight, all in the quest for bigger profits. The major players’ responses have been galling – reassuring us that everything will turn out fine while at the same time blaming each other; minimizing the amount of the spill and its spread; and, pretending that the failure came without warning. The coup de gras may have been Transco’s quiet decision, arrived at a meeting in Switzerland behind closed doors, to give its shareholders a $1,000,000,000 (that’s billion) dividend in quaterly installments over the next year. Now that’s showing a set of coconuts or, more properly, arrogance and disdain. But it’s early in the game folks – no doubt they will be outdone in the gall department.
So Pete, we are into the fourth paragraph and I haven’t heard how this affects the rest of us not on the Gulf Coast. Get to the point. Okay, sorry – there are two. First, and most obvious, you don’t have to read much to see how the negative financial impact on the Gulf region affects the rest of the country, not to mention the fact that the spill itself may well move its way up the Eastern seaboard. Second, and in the overall grand scheme maybe more important, what other hidden time bombs are ticking in your back yard?
Think about it folks. My slice of heaven is not exclusive. My family and friends are nore more precious to me then yours to you. My brother lives in Crested Butte, Colorado and he likes his slice. Every place you travel in this great country, and beyond, has its own brand of beauty that is worth preserving. Does a natural gas pipeline run through your state? How about a nuclear reactor or regional electric power grid? Do you think that the amounts of money that the players in these fields stand to make have any impact on the money they spend lobbying the federal agency responsible for regulating their industry? Is it possible that the prospect of insane profits might court the urge to resort to skirting those regulations in place? Is it posible that it is even worse in countries with less regulation? You bet your last dollar they do. And they no doubt are. And we don’t know about it. And we should.
I am not against drilling. I am not even against nuclear power, though I believe that there are alternative technologies that must be pushed forward. What I am against is someone putting my family, friends and community (and yours) at risk in the name of profit. I’ll bet that you are, too. If you are, make yourself heard. Don’t just get mad today – stay mad and keep being heard. The next time you hear "drill, baby, drill," ask them whether they want their burger with or withoutv regulation.
Cum Laude graduate of Cumberland School of Law, Pet Mackey is a civil trial litigation expert who represents plaintiffs in business and consumer tort, contracts and construction, employment disputes and insurance. He is board certified as a Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a Certified Alabama Mediator, and an “AV” rated lawyer by Martindale-Hubbell.