Oil Spill Sheds Light on Need for Clean Energy and Jobs

Green experts say joblessness a threat of gulf oil spill

What are the long-term and short-term health implications and the financial implications for African Americans in that area?

African Americans in the Gulf region have endured a legacy of toxic pollutions, says Michael K. Dorsey, an environmental studies professor at Dartmouth College.

Michael K. Dorsey: Well, the long-term health implications, we don’t know.  We’re going to have to study them. We heard some of that from administrator Lisa Jackson at the Environmental Protection Agency saying that we have to begin to put in a process.  We’re going to undoubtedly have to involve other agencies and aides. We need to put together a process that will involve other African Americans, particularly in the Gulf region who are living in and have been living in some of the poorest and worse off African-American communities in the country…[many of which] are on the fence line of a legacy of toxic pollutions.

And so, overall devastation in terms of tourism, in terms of fishing, in terms of all the things that shape and make the Gulf communities, African-American communities, in particular are going to be absolutely devastated.  And really, the challenge again is how do we not just respond with the band-aid coverage.

Are you satisfied with President Obama’s response to this oil spill?

Dorsey: I think in terms of the spill, the president, the White House, and the administration have done an amazing job, I think, in the face of a disaster that is unfolding before our eyes.  The aggressive response of some of the administration is right on point.

At the same time, however, I think a larger process needs to be put in place that really truly gets us on a pathway towards independence, not just for oil, but from bad energy technologies, like nuclear power, as well as oil. What was lacking in his speech …was the story about the structure of what are we going to do with workers during the midst of the six-month moratorium [on deepwater drilling].

What do you think will need to happen in order to keep a disaster like this from happening again?

Dorsey: We need to get out of drilling. We need to see the sunrise on ending oil dependence and the sunrise on carbon free energy and focus our attention on future energies that must be green. We can have a carbon-free and a nuclear-free future. The technology is there. It won’t happen overnight but we don’t need a commission that will take us back to the nuclear age, which was in the past century.

What considerations do we need to take into account in terms of moving away from our dependence on oil?

Dorsey: I think about the jobs that are involved in [the oil industry]. The transition away from the current dirty energy that we use, whether it’s oil, or whether it’s nuclear, the transition that we need to focus on first and foremost are workers.  But then, also, for communities, for cities, for regions of the country that will be affected by the transition that models dirty energy over to clean and green energy.  That was the part of the speech that was missing.  We didn’t hear the details on that.

RESOURCES

•    To submit a claim for damages or restitution: (800) 440-0858
•    To volunteer with the clean up effort: (866) 448-5816
•    To submit alternative response technology, service, or products: (281) 366-5511
•    Report oiled wildlife: (866) 557-1401
•    For medical support due to Gulf oil exposure:  (888) 623-0287

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Filee a claim with BP

National Urban League Gulf Coast Bill of Rights

American Association for Blacks and Energy

The Louisiana Justice Institute

Gulf Oil Spill

Deepwater Horizon Response

Pages: 1 2
ACROSS THE WEB
  • http://www.energyrelations.net Andre Williams

    Dorsey is right. More emphasis should be placed on the “transition” to cleaner energy. Oil and gas powers 95% of the nation’s transportation and moving away from this is not going to happen over night. Most of us do not own electric or solar-powered cars, and many of us have no plans to purchase them in the near future.

    Furthermore, the jobs lost in the transition should also be highly considered. Much of our oil and gas production and refining takes place in the South, where many African Americans earn GREAT paychecks in this industry. When the transition does take place, we should make sure the green movement doesn’t abandon these folks.