Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Continuing Legal Education - in oil.

The who's who of Family Law attorneys shall again convene on the sunny shores of Florida's beaches over Memorial Day weekend.  We will deepen our relationships, strengthen our bonds, perhaps get past old transgressions and even further our knowledge of family law and improve our professional skills.

We gather every year in Florida.  On even years we gather in San Destin.  In addition to our work, we family lawyers and our familes do what people in San Destin do in late May: we soak up the rays, play on the sugar white sand and bathe in the soothing waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

But from what I'm reading, this year may be quite different.

BP has blown an oil rig sitting some 40 miles off the Louisianna coast.  The deep water well is gushing five thousand barrels a day.  BP admits that the spill could increase to 60,000 barrels a day.  Oil is expected along Pensacola beaches within five days of this post.  It is expected all along Florida's gulf coast all the way down to the Keys within 15 days.   As of today, this spill is only one million gallons less than the Exxon Valdez spill, and it probably has weeks to go before it is shut down.  From many sources I've read, this is likely the worst man made environmental catastrophe to date.

Some say we've killed the Gulf of Mexico for decades to come.

Today, I've watched a few videos of Prince William Sound, the place where the Exxon Valdez ran aground some 21 years ago.  If you turn over a rock or dig down two inches, the oil is still there.  Reporters talked about the smell that permeates the ground. 

As I think about my family walking along the beaches we have known since my childhood, I find it impossible to wrap my mind around the possibilty that all that may be gone. 

And for what?  For greed.  BP's greed, to be sure, fighting to avoid a law requiring a remote switch to cut off the well head.  The switch apparently costs $500,000.00.  But now BP says they are spending $6,000,000.00 a day in clean up and repair efforts.  I'll bet that half million dollars looks like a bargain now.

But not just BP's greed.  Our greed.  We demand the oil.  We want more for less.  And just like there's no free lunch, you can't get more for less.  Our grandparents tried to teach us that.

So, like druggies, we've sacrificed our future for a quick fix. 

I pray the oil won't reach the beaches.  I pray they'll find a way to cap the well fast.  I'm emotionally in denial about the predicted and reported probabilities from this disaster.  I just want it all to go away, so we can do what we have always done and not worry about any consequences.  But apparently, that isn't going to happen.

At some point, don't we have to grow up?

Michael Manely

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