Friday, August 1, 2008

Not In My Backyard

Gas finally got down below $4.00 a gallon in my neighborhood yesterday and everyone rushed to fill up their tanks. All three stations in Angel Fire were out last night.

That got us all talking about Exxon and their extraordinary $1500 per second profit this last quarter. Every time we get on dissing the oil companies for making too much money one of the conservative Republicans brings up that there has not been a new refinery built in the US in 30 years. And then blames the tree huggers for their "not-in-my-backyard" attitude. Like maybe they (the stanch Republicans in favor of big oil) would allow one to be built in their backyard.

I had one in my backyard. I was in the third and fourth grade in El Paso, Texas. The sky was frequently yellow because of the "exhaust" from the stacks of the refineries. I can remember Mom and Dad taking my brother and I over the border to Juarez, Mexico for a bit of clean air because the winds were in its favor. We finally had to move from El Paso. Both my brother and I were in danger of long term physical effects from the pollution. I am allergic to sulfur which was one of the major outputs of the refinery process. Gary just didn't breathe well with the particulate levels.

Dad researched where to move quite thoroughly and we ended up in Albuquerque, New Mexico which in the 1950's had some of the cleanest air in the United States. Sadly that is no longer the case. But the inter-mountain west states were settled by a great many people looking to get fresh air and unpolluted water. Lots of our state laws seek to preserve that.

But then the Environmental Protection Agency is suppose to do that too. Or at least the EPA did before GW and has oil buddies raped it. They would like us to be forced into suspending all environmental protections in the building of refineries, coal generation plants and no doubt nuclear energy facilities. It would of course make the building of these energy providers cheaper as if any company making $1500 a second needs things to be cheaper. But what price will we be paying in quality of life, fresh air and clean water?

It is not just a matter of not-in-my-backyard but the whole concept of pissing in the water we are swimming in on this blue planet. It would be better for all of us if we learned to live without these contributers to global warming. Better if we learned to moderate our growth rates so we could live comfortably on the land we now inhabit (or less of it so some can go back to rain forest, jungles and wetlands). There is quite frankly a lot less open backyards available for building refineries, coal generation plants and nuclear power plants. And before we give these profit generating blackmailers carte blanche to build and explore away we need to look at the damage we are letting us and our plant in on down the line.

I personally am not going to breathe sulfur emissions again just for the sake of getting my gas at $3.00 a gallon again. I am learning not to drive as much and that makes breathing easier. Besides chances are that once they build a new refinery they will leave the gas at $4.00 until they retire that debt. There are no guarantees that letting them have it their way will make it any cheaper for us.