The Vine

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Drilling on the Beach

LoverMan and I went to the beach, a little minivacation which is all we can afford right now. One of the best beaches on the Texas Coast is the Padre Island National Seashore. We camp on North Beach, near the Malachite Visitor Center.

Now maybe a couple of months, I got a note from an old Earth First! bud that the National Parks Service was opening up Padre to drilling. At the time I had no response/reaction capability, nor do I now, but I forwarded his message to LM, who is a member of the SurfRiders Foundation, a beach watchdog and service nonprofit for water sports enthusiasts. LM in turn asked SurfRiders what they were doing about it, what they thought, and they were not up-to-date enough to know what was proposed or do anything about it. Before anyone knew what was up the comment period was over and a permit had been issued and they are now drilling and extracting on the Island, our best, cleanest beach in Texas. I am pretty sure it is for natural gas, and that the reserve there was enough to supply the whole nation for one day.

So I was curious as to how this would look on the beach, from a camper's viewpoint. We didn't go down to try to see the actual operation, too far down the beach, we don't have 4 wheel, so we wimped out. But, the main impact that we could tell is the traffic. 7 in the morning: rumble of a convoy of 18-wheeler sized heavy machinery of varying sorts, and big tanks. 10 or so in number, and in front and in back a little dune buggy with a guy wearing neon. Then, all through the day, smaller convoys of one or four or five machines, each trip always accompanied by the two dunebuggydudes, one in the lead and one behind. It was just very surreal, the effect was one of a miliarized, occupied feeling in an otherwise natural beach scene.

What were the two dunebuggydudes for? They drive the same beach-golfcart thingees that the Parks Service Turtle Patrolers drive, so my thought is that the contractor must have agreed to hire turtle watchers, as a mitigation, to make sure that the big trucks didn't squash any endangered sea turtles. LM said he got the distinct impression that the dunebuggy drivers were more about protecting the machines than turtles. In case you were an environmental terrorist or surfer who might want to attack the big bad oil company.

They DID look at us closely. And smiled and waved. And every truck driver in every convoy smiled and waved, I was pretty sure it was company policy. Mitigate the fucking turtles, sure, whatever, but make DAMN sure you mitigate the public opinion. Smile and wave at every camper and sunbather and fisherman, or you're fired.

If that was the case, I bet it is/has been effective. The first morning we even heard campers tooting their horns in greeting. Toot Toot! Hey we got 18-wheelers on the beach now, but they sure are friendly! Hell, they're just going to work like anyone else, and here I'm just drinkin beer on the beach! I'm just glad my brother-in-law has a job now so my sister don't have to pay for everything. Running out of oil and natural gas? Well we're gonna be glad we have that extra day on down the line. Toot! Toot!


At 5:14 PM, Blogger princess poysen ivieee said...

Well, looked around a bit and found that the Sierra Club put up a good fight and continues to organize to end the drilling! Go help 'em out if you can!


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