Friday, June 4, 2010

Thank you, Clorox

How many corporations are helping make America safe by changing the way they do business? Clorox is by eliminating the use of chlorine gas in all seven of its production plants in the United States. This announcement was made by Greenpeace a few months ago and didn’t receive much media coverage. But, this is a positive move on Clorox’s part in supporting the community.

The change will make the community a much safer place by, first, eliminating the risk of chlorine gas poisoning for over 13 million Americans that live downwind of the seven plants. (Remember Union Carbide’s Bhopal chemical gas release in 1984.) It will also eliminate the risk that is posed by transporting 90 ton rail cars across the country. Finally, it will take Clorox's plants off lists that are targeted by terrorist because of the danger they present.

This makes good business sense as well. By converting to more cost effective and safer chemicals Clorox will operate in a less restrictive regulatory environment. Regulation of chemicals like Chlorine were developed and implemented because of the risk it presents to people and the environment. These regulations were not needed before the chemicals were developed. With most corporations operating in secrecy and using newly developed chemicals that all the dangers they present may not be known, the community has every right to know about their use. This enables individuals to make decisions about where to live and what products to use. These regulations empower the responsible individual.

When this conversion is completed, it will be a safer world from the manufacturing of the products, and the decrease threat of terrorist attack. These are real community solutions to real community concerns.

Thank you, Clorox.

Bhopal gas leak -

Greenpeace press release -

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

BP Oil Spill - Gulf Leak Meter

The oil gushing from a well head a mile under the surface of the Gulf of Mexico may take until August to stop. The latest plan that has been concocted by BP could make it worse. Is everyone watching this?

Since BP’s well head in the Gulf of Mexico went up in flames April 20, 2010, a mind boggling amount of petroleum has been released into the environment. Every day 12,000 to 19,000 barrels of oil are still leaking. (1) Much of it has come to the surface and floating to the Gulf coast of the United States. It is destroying tourism, fisheries, coastal micro environments and taking a huge toll on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people that earn an income from these industries.

Our obsession with petroleum powered automobiles and power plants has placed us in this situation. Since we reached peak oil (2) many years ago, supply has not kept up with demand. This isn’t just be
cause of our usage alone, the entire world is becoming more industrialized and relying on the same resources we have for over a hundred years now.

With the tremendous growth in demand, comes greater risk taking in finding more of the fuel. Once it was relatively safe, cheap and easy to find new sources of oil, now we have to go places that apparently, we don’t know how to bridle if things get out of control. All the plans that were made to prevent and repair this oil leak haven’t worked. The problem with this one well could be small compared to the thousands (3,860 to be precise) we have in the Gulf if they get out of control. What if another one blows up?

It is bad enough that we are destroying our own coast lines. Think if the oil had gone into Mexico or Central America. Not only would this have been an environmental problem it would have been an international problem.

Now, reports are coming to the attention of the media about many of the wells in the Gulf not having the permits needed to actually do the drilling. The government has been very lax on oversight of the exploration. Also, regulators are relying on the expertise of oil company engineers instead of hiring their own experts or seeking third party examination of the company plans. (3) This is happening because both, reports illustrate that there is a much too close relationship between the regulators and the industry and the agencies in charge of the oversight are not funded well enough to be able to afford the staff they need to do the job properly.

What to do?

Tax the entire industry for these problems. This will force other companies to help pay for the problems of anyone of them. Will it raise the cost of gas at the pump? Yes. And maybe that is what we need to help us pay attention to all of this. Nothing focuses attention like paying for a problem.

Fund the agencies that are in charge of oversight appropriately so they can hire their own experts. This will allow the needed critical analyses of the plans to make sure they are going to work in a secure and safe manner.

Stop allowing the close relationship between the regulators and the industry they monitor. No gifts or entertainment with industry people and regulators. Also, make the agency people partially responsible for the problems that their lack of oversight causes.

Make stock holders of the companies that cause the problem pay some of the damages. If you hold stock in the company at the time of the problem, you pay a fine on each share. This will help keep money from being invested in companies that take undue risks and bribe regulators.

Instead of executives of the companies that cause these problems just paying for clean up and a fine from the funds of the companies they run, give them a personal fine and jail time for their poor behavior.

Finally, as a country (and the world for that matter) move away from resources that aren’t renewable. When we depend on a limited resource like oil, it will peak. When it does, risks will be taken that shouldn’t be taken.

Are these tough things to do? Yes. But ask the people on the gulf coast that depend on the fisheries or tourism what they think. If your income was cut off because of this problem, how would you feel? As a community we must work at protecting everyone and preventing this from happening again.

1 How many gallons of gasoline from a barrel of oil? -

2 Peak Oil -

3 BP was doing what was expected -

Date -


Sunday, May 30, 2010

They All Fought for All of Us

It is Memorial Day, the day we are to remember those that fought and died for America. It is interesting that the holiday has its roots in the Civil War. On the first Memorial Day (it was called Decoration Day then), May 30, 1868, the graves of soldiers that died in the War Between the States were decorated, in both the North and the South.

The Civil War was fought between families, friends and neighbors. Those that enlisted made a decision based on fighting for their country, on both sides. The people that would benefit from their sacrifice were not always just like them. Yet, everyone was honored, no matter their side.

Today, we have an all volunteer military. So those in the military enlisted because they felt the calling to do so. They, like the fallen during the Civil War, came from many different backgrounds. Poor, rich, educated or not. Men and Woman, of many different nationalities and cultural backgrounds. They are Baptists, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Hindu and many other religions or none at all. They are straight, gay, married or single. Most are citizens, a few are not.

They didn’t enlist to fight just for their own point of view. They didn’t enlist to protect the conservatives or liberals. They don’t fight for one religion or another. It wasn’t for the south, the north or western states. Like those that enlisted during the Civil War, they joined to fight for their country, setting aside their own personal stories and feelings.

This is where the honor we bestow on them should rest, that no matter their own background or personal point of view, they took up arms willing to sacrifice their own lives if necessary for America and its freedoms.

The next time we think that this country is home to just one religion, or political point of view, think of the men and women of the military. All of them fighting for all of us. Their backgrounds are as diverse as ours. If we think that this great land is just for one political view point, religion, or lifestyle, and denying a single right to anyone, we might as well be denying that right to anyone of them.

From all of us in America, we pledge to honor all of you, the men and women of the military for all you have fought for and will continue to fight for.

Thank you.