Audio: A Conversation with a Pro-Drilling Environmentalist — Is there any such thing?

Jul 12th, 2010 | By | Category: Energy Conservation, General, Water Conservation

Need to Know’s Alison Stewart speaks with Amanda Little, a journalist and self-proclaimed “pro-drilling environmentalist.” Little describes her personal experience on an off-shore oil rig and her optimistic belief that American ingenuity can solve our energy problems. Little is the author of “Power Trip: From Oil Wells to Solar Cells.”

Is there any such thing as a “pro-drilling” environmentalist? CT Environmental Headlines thinks not. See below for reasons why. …

Is there any such thing as a “pro-drilling” environmentalist? CT Environmental Headlines thinks not.

Amanda Little, who the Climate Desk’s Alison Stewart describes as a “seasoned environmental journalist,” (I’m not sure how someone becomes “seasoned journalist” when they’ve been a journalist, excuse me, “investigative journalist,” for ten years). Perhaps the question is “What is she seasoned with?” Something from BP’s kitchen cabinet, perhaps.

Secondly, I’m really not sure how someone who thinks America must expand coastal drilling could be called an “environmental journalist” (she may write about the environment, but she is certainly not pro-environment. I would argue that there’s no such thing as a pro-drilling environmentalist). But I guess if you’re a seasoned environmental journalist and have been on The Morning Joe, then you can call yourself whatever you want.

Certainly, there are thousands of oil rigs off our southern coastline. But does this make thousands of oil rigs off ours coasts “inevitable?” Certainly for the immediate future it does. But maybe instead we could immediately decommission all the rigs and begin running all our VWs on biodiesel and helicopters on fuel cells and start heating our homes in the winter with solar, wind and other renewables.

Little says it’s extremely “concerning” (according to the OED that means something “that gives cause for anxiety or distress”) how other countries like Angola and Nigeria, suffer catastrophic oil spills almost annually.

But, in the same breath, she says it’s irresponsible for us to say “not in our backyards” and still continue to consume oil at the rate we’re consuming it.

Is it really? Even though I’m cutting back on my energy use it’s irresponsible for me to feel quite comfortable and justified agreeing with Rachel Maddow when she says we shouldn’t allow oil drilling if the companies doing the drilling don’t have ways prevent disasters like the current BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico? I disagree.

I agree with Amanda Little that it’s irresponsible for us to consume oil at the rate we’re doing so. But to say it’s irresponsible for us to say no deep water oil drilling in our backyards, or in the Gulf of Mexico as the case may be, seems as staggeringly arrogant as the oil industry once seemed to her.

Little says she was so impressed by an oil rig she visited (I think this must be what makes her an investigative journalist) that she had to suspend her anger at the industry that is currently destroying the Gulf ecosystem, and will probably destroy much of the this country’s oceanic ecosystem once BP figures out a way to stop the oil from flowing from the Earth into the Gulf’s waters.

In the end, Amanda Little blames us. As an oil executive told her when she asked him “why not put the money you spend on these impressive oil rigs into something like solar and wind?” She blames us for using airplanes and cars and trains and helicopters to reach the oil rigs in the first place.

She says, “If we’re not demanding the oil, industry won’t go to whatever lengths they go to to get it.” Is it true that as long as you or I or our neighbors are using the oil, that the industry is going to drill for it? Or are they going to drill for it until we run out of it all together?

It is my belief that if, as Amanda Little claims, she understood “the politics behind the oil industry,” then she would have a much different view of the BP spill in the Gulf and the direction this nation must take to prevent something similar, or worse, from happening again.

If Little had a better understanding of global warming, peak oil, sustainability, conservation, and the capacity for this country to develop renewable technologies — which, by the way, can power the trains, cars and helicopters that the oil industry has convinced her require oil to run – perhaps she wouldn’t be riling so many real environmentalists.

But then, if she expressed more knowledge of those things, then she might not be grabbing the interest of those who have not yet bought her book and who agree with her stance on the United States expanding its off shore oil drilling.

I often wonder when people say ridiculous things, whether they have children whose futures they think about, or whether there’s no more than a morally dislocated self interest that drives their words.

via Audio: A Conversation with a Pro-Drilling Environmentalist | Mother Jones.

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