Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tie a Yellow Ribbon on the Old Oiled Beach

Went biking for the first time in a month with Boy Daugherty and have the aches to prove it. The yellow crime scene tape was one continuous ribbon on our left as we headed north on the Bay Trail. Occasionally, we saw a few workers who seemed to be thinking about doing something about the oil on the beaches, but as for actually seeing anyone doing anything?

Well, no.

At the bayside complex of condos and townhomes in Richmond, the yellow ribbons blocked our way. Apparently, the trail ran too close to the beach, and the temptation to petrochemical vigilantes might prove too great. But Daugherty knew a back way through the maze of gated mini-communities, and so we made it to the Richmond marina.

It made Daugherty think. It made him think about how he got good union wages for some months working on -- he did not say cleaning up -- the filth at the edge of the water after the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The way Daugherty tells it, Exxon essentially bribed Alaska. It threw three or four billion dollar into the state economy to divert the attention of that wild and greedy state, a state which sucks the federal tit harder than any other.

So-called cleanup did no good, Daugherty said. You stick your finger into one of those beaches today, and it will come up covered with oil. When I talked to Edith on the phone after the ride, I told her what Daugherty said about doing no good. She disagreed. All that "cleanup" actually harmed the environment, she said.

Early on, they should just have spread some oil-eating microbes on the beaches and walked away, she said.

We crazy Americans. First, we ignore our problems. Then, at a certain point, we pretend there's a nice little solution, which very nicely puts some money in some pockets. There. That's taken care of.

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