Even though I wasn't born in a beach town, living an hour away from three or four of our country's most beautiful beaches was a blessing. My mom's sister, my Aunt Diane, lived in Destin and we certainly took advantage of her and my Uncle Kenneth's hospitality on a regular basis when I was little. In high school we spent many an hour riding the "Strip" in PCB and laying out on the beaches. On my dad's side of the fam (my Uncle Ronnie and Aunt Lynda) we had a great excuse to cruise down to Pensacola Beach to spend time with them and soak up some rays. When I did my internship at WSRE in Pensacola, they were even nice enough to open up their home and let me live with them for the summer. And let me tell you--there is nothing better than living rent-free on the water! I just love the Gulf of Mexico, all the way from Panama City Beach to New Orleans!
Moving to Mobile was hard for me at first. I'm certainly not the shy type, but it was hard for me to make friends here in the "real world" of jobs, bills, and responsibilities. Some of my favorite memories here involve our beautiful, sleepy little coastal village of Dauphin Island. Once again I was lucky enough to have direct access to my in-law's beach house and boat. It was my weekend escape from my boring life in Mobile where all I had was H. The essence of me is there. I've lived every word of every Jimmy Buffet song on that little 13-mile-long island and the waters that surround it. I've had a terribly embarrassing moment on the Intercoastal Waterway at Lulu's, I've skinny-dipped off Petit Bois Island in broad daylight, and I've certainly had my fair share of sunset booze cruises. There is nothing better than eating fresh Red Snapper or watching a school of dolphins play off the starboard side of the boat. Or seeing the pride in my husband's eyes as he helped our friend's kids learn to cast a line. H proposed to me on the boat in the middle of the Mississippi Sound on Memorial Day back in 2006. We had our Wedding Party Party at The Pelican Pub, our couple's shower, and eventually our wedding at The Isle of Dauphine Golf Club. Dauphin Island is where we really fell in love and built the basis of our relationship. It is such a part of the fabric of my life, and I'm proud to call myself a local.
Needless to say, I am now heartbroken. Heartbroken and down-right pissed off. As an animal lover, my eyes well up with tears every time I think about all of the sea turtles, dolphins, pelicans, fish, etc, etc, etc suffering in this man-made disaster. All for the sake of making a dollar. There are commercial fisherman, oysterman, and charter boat captains who no longer have jobs-jobs they learned from their daddies and granddaddies. And they aren't jobless because they are too lazy to work. They are jobless because of one company's greed. ONE company has managed to rip all of this away from so many people. I am one of the lucky ones--I just viewed the Gulf as my playground, not my livelihood. But it doesn't stop there. No one will come to the beach when they can't swim and enjoy the beauty. Hotels and rental properties will stand empty, restaurants will close, businesses who depend on a hoppin' tourist season to make it through the year will fail. It's heartbreaking. No one will buy boats or jet skis. Charter captains will go bankrupt, marinas will close.....the chain of ecomonics that depends so much on our Gulf is about to take a beating like never before.
So what can we do? What can I do? Well...I don't know. How in the world am I supposed to know what to do when billionaire CEOs and brilliant engineers don't even know what in the hell to do? Boycott BP? Gotcha. Volunteer to help clean up the mess? Done! Try to reduce my carbon footprint and my family's dependancy on oil? Working on it as I type. At this point in the game, I don't care if Republican "Big Oil" legislature is to blame, or if Obama's response is too liberal or too nonchalant. I DON'T CARE. I just want BP to stop the leak and clean up their mess. According to the 60 Minutes special a few weeks ago, BP is the one who should be held 100% responsible for this. A chief engineer on the rig reported parts of the rubber annulator (the blow-out preventer) coming up through the top of the pipe. The BP Officials he reported the incident to (which, ironically, where on board the platform to celebrate Deepwater Horizon's safety record) instructed the men to keep on drilling--they had a deadline and a quota to meet. And, according to BP's 2009 Shareholder's Report (don't worry, I'm no shareholder I just did some research) the top-ranking officials and engineers receive a bonus of 150% of their salary and up to 225% of their salary on performance relative to targets set. That is a TON of money considering these dudes make well over a million a year. In this same report I kept spotting words and phrases like "integrity management" and "tireless attention to conservation." Funny, huh? In 2009, although BP had an operating budget of $27.7 billion, they terminate 11,700 employees to make a "simpler, more efficient organization." I guess by simpler they meant dumber and by efficient they meant careless.
Here is my plea--whether you are Republican, Democrat, Independent, or Purple People Eater: Let's ALL rally for cleaner, more sustainable resources to run our lives. Let's use the sun, wind, corn and whatever else we can think of to lessen our dependency on oil--both foreign and domestic. I can't see Russia from my backyard, but I used to be able to see Egrets and Cranes and Mullet. Now all I see is oil. People think oil is a necessity, and right now it is. But it doesn't have to be. And I refuse to believe that in a world where people can walk on the moon, clone sheep, and transplant organs we can't find a way to make a car run on something besides oil and gas.
I'm still researching so there will probably be more to come, but here is a list of BP products to avoid:
BP Select Motor Oil
BP Autran Syn-295
BP Gear Oil 90
BP Spindle Oil
And of course, don't forget the gas stations! In addition to the regular BP stations, Amoco is also a subsidiary of BP.