As the oil from the Enbridge pipeline rupture flows towards Lake Michigan, we should be asking ourselves what the real cost is of our addiction to oil. I don’t think that Americans would consciously choose to sacrifice the Great Lakes, the Gulf of Mexico, or any of our other precious natural areas to being poisoned by sticky, toxic goo.
This morning, Politico published an opinion piece I wrote about the long-term harm of the Gulf oil spill to birds and other wildlife. A lot of the news reports have focused on photos of oiled birds and efforts to clean oil off birds. I make the point that the long-lasting effects of the spill go beyond the tragedy of what we are seeing on the news. The spill will affect the food chain and habitat in the Gulf region for many years – perhaps even decades to come.
The devastation to birds and other wildlife and their habitat is but one clear indication of the high price of oil – especially of riskier and dirtier sources of fossil fuels such as deepwater, tar sands, oil shale, and mountain-top removal. We can do better to protect our birds and our great natural areas by building a clean energy economy that is not based on fossil fuels. And at the same time we can be building home-grown jobs and long-term energy security.