I continue to be flattered by the good notices and coverage of my new book, Crude Justice: How I Fought Big Oil and Won, and What You Should Know About the New Environmental Attack on America. This week, an environmental activist and writer that I’ve known for years, Jerry Cope, interviewed me for the Huffington Post, and we talked about the book — and how Big Oil’s ever-growing political influence has allowed the energy giants to get away with the dumping of radioactive oilfield wastes, and other insidious forms of pollution, for decades.
Our talk was a good chance to drill deeper, if you’ll pardon the expression, into some of the ecological threats that have been glossed over too often in the media. including the criminal abuse of the highly toxic dispersant Corexit that was sprayed into the Gulf in the aftermath of the 2010 BP oil spill. As I explained to Cope:
The immediate and major impact is of course the victims of the toxic exposure who live along the coast. These people are still being ignored, the settlement which was reached on the personal injury claims was woefully inadequate. They do not have enough lawyers representing these people, a lot of these people are still quite sick, god bless them but they are probably the victims that are going to be living with this for a long long time – if they live that long.
As far as the gulf itself the ecosystem is permanently damaged, at least permanent in the sense of our lifetime, our children’s lifetimes. The gulf will never recover in the near future – it is going to be a matter of geologic time and that is one of the frightening thing’s about the President’s (Obama’s) recent proposal to open up the East Coast to oil drilling. This despite the fact that all of the recommendations of his own BP Oil Spill Commission have not been satisfied or done. It is very frightening what is going on in the energy sector with the rush to continue these extremely risky and dangerous drilling practices.
As I’ve mentioned before, when I sat down a couple of years ago to start putting the story of my career as on environmental lawyer on paper, I had no idea that oil and energy policy would become the front-burner issue that it is now. The rise of risky, extreme drilling practices to fuel our addiction to oil — such as fracking, deep offshore drilling and exploration in harsh environments such as the Arctic — have made the dangers more clear and present than ever to many Americans. And yet the opportunities for real change — because of advances in renewable energy techniques — are greater as well. I’m glad to raise these issues in a book that, in Cope’s flattering words, “reads like a legal thriller.”
I think Jerry Cope, for his part, also nails down what’s a stake here when he writes in the introduction to the interview: “All too often the US government has allowed (even encouraged) corporations to exert undue influence on the political process in order to subvert legitimate regulations and protections from a carbon industry seeking profit without regard to external costs and harmful consequences both to the health and welfare of citizens and the environment.”
Indeed — that’s one of the reasons I wrote this book. My experiences — especially what I’ve seen happen in the Gulf these last five years — have taught me that people need to re-take control of how we get our energy.
To learn more about my book and to buy it, go to: Crude Justice: How I Fought Big Oil and Won, and What You Should Know About the New Environmental Attack on America: http://shop.benbellabooks.com/crude-justice
Read the entire interview with Jerry Cope of the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jerry-cope/crude-justice-stuart-smith_b_6640642.html
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