It’s one thing to say that the Gulf oil spill is the worst environmental disaster of our time. It’s quite another to see the reality of it unfolding before your eyes.
I recently flew over the Gulf in a helicopter and was stunned at the sheer size of the oil slick that is now threatening the shores of four different states. I spent hours talking with local shrimpers, oystermen and environmental justice leaders. Their fear and heartbreak are palpable. Thousands of livelihoods could be destroyed in the weeks ahead.
This is no simple spill on surface water. This is an ongoing deepwater catastrophe in one of our planet’s richest marine environments. The potential toll on vulnerable species from bottlenose dolphins to sperm whales, from Kemp’s ridley sea turtles to bluefin tuna — is truly frightening to contemplate.
NRDC has had a rapid-response team on the ground for the past month -- documenting the environmental impacts, advocating for local communities and getting important stories to thousands of news outlets.
Meanwhile, dozens of NRDC attorneys and scientists are working around the clock to hold BP accountable for the damage it is causing. And we must make sure the Obama Administration is doing everything possible to defend our coastal waters from more disasters at the hands of Big Oil. We will fight in court, in federal agencies and in Congress to win tough new safeguards that will rein in an oil industry that has been running amok.
But that’s not enough. We must hold ourselves accountable as well. After all, oil companies like BP are drilling at 5,000 feet beneath the ocean for one simple reason: we’re that desperate, as a nation, to keep feeding our oil habit. We’ve got 250 million gas-guzzling cars on the road but we seem mystified when our pollution-fueled joy ride ends in a runaway oil spill.
There is no more urgent task this summer than waking Americans from this collective state of denial and breaking the death grip of dirty fuels on our environment before it’s too late.
President Obama has called on the Senate to pass comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation that will cut our dependence on oil. But it is up to you and me to build overwhelming public support for that message and ratchet up the pressure on Congress.
Tell your Senators to pass a clean energy and climate bill this summer: HERE. Urge them to scale up production of cleaner vehicles and fuels, promote efficiency and renewable energy and limit global warming pollution.
We may never get a better chance to break our dependence on Big Oil and save our coasts from further destruction, so please send your two Senators a wake-up call right now.
In the meantime, many of you are wondering how to best support recovery efforts in the Gulf that go beyond NRDC’s strong advocacy work. In response, we’re setting up a special Gulf Coast Recovery Fund that will serve as a conduit from you to our local partner organizations working on the frontlines.
Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution HERE to this new fund. Every dollar you give will go directly -- via emergency grants -- to worthy Gulf Coast non-profit groups that are helping people, wildlife and fragile ecosystems to recover from this unprecedented disaster.
Thank you for responding at this critical time.
Natural Resources Defense Council