When I was going to college in Iowa, I used to have to drive from Iowa to New York for every substantial break. 1,032 miles at least four times a year using I-80 for about 970 of those miles.
When I was a freshman, I used to split that drive over two days, but by senior year I was doing it in one long Red Bull-fueled 17 hour marathon. The last time I did this drive was last May.
I was somewhere in Pennsylvania when I noticed I was really low on gas. At the exit there were two gas stations: a Sheetz and a BP.
Gas prices were slightly lopsided in BP’s favor, a gallon about 9 cents cheaper. Normally, being a broke newly minted college graduate, I would have gone with the cheaper option. But I simply couldn’t stand giving BP any of my money. And that’s when it occurred to me: I hadn’t used a BP gas station since the oil spill.
While I hadn’t given BP any of my money, I did do the Gulf of Mexico a great disservice by letting the media distract me.
When the well was capped on July 15, 2010, along with many other Americans, I turned my attention to things that really mattered, like the Yankees defending their World Series title. It’s really shameful to admit that. That’s why watching the incredible documentary “The Big Fix” recently made for a rather sleepless night.
The Big Fix
Part of me wants to simply give you a blow-by-blow account of the entire documentary, but that would take away the shock one must experience by watching “The Big Fix.” So I'll just highlight a few of the more unbelievable segments.
The first takes a close look at the use of the chemical dispersant called ‘Corexit.’
First used on the Exxon-Valdez oil spill, Corexit in the immediate aftermath appeared to do its job by dispersing the oil.
In fact, the documentary plays a series of clips from environmental scientist Dr. Edward Overton saying that the dispersant would get rid of the oil entirely, leaving no trace.
The problem is that Corexit does not do that. It did disperse the oil, but now there is a thick layer of the black stuff on the ocean floor. In fact, 40 percent of the Gulf sea floor is now covered in oil.
Truth is, Corexit is not only unsuccessful in getting rid of the oil, it is extremely toxic. It’s actually illegal in BP’s home country of England. Considering the fact that folks have been known to develop chemical pneumonia from Corexit exposure, it's not surprising that some countries would have a problem using this stuff.
And of course, what is truly disturbing is watching Tickell's footage of planes spraying thousands of gallons of Corexit on oil slicks and boats just dumping crate after crate directly into the water.
An estimated 40 million gallons of Corexit were used in the Gulf. Even after BP was told of Corexit’s harmful effects, the company continued to use it. And after management said they stopped using it in August 2010, Tickell shows footage of Corexit being used many months after and even one report of it being used in February, 2011.
To say that the oil industry really controls a lot of what is done in American politics sounds really conspiratorial, but Tickell’s evidence is plentiful and damning.
Remember when the left screamed endlessly about Bush’s ties to Haliburton and the reason for going to Iraq was for oil, but more or less went quiet after Obama was elected because he was a “green” president? I do. And I’m just as guilty as everyone.
But the bottom line is that Obama played a major role in absolving BP of any major wrong-doing in the Gulf. He gave them what amounted to a slap on the wrist of having to set up a $20 billion dollar response fund.
And after Obama’s Gulf-area photo-op of swimming in the water with his daughter, the press moved on and the oil spill was more or less forgotten by the national media.
Perhaps the most startling aspect of the documentary is the ubiquity of oil money in government and public life.
Politicians on both sides of the aisle, pull in millions in campaign contributions from oil companies. This is especially true in Louisiana.
Liberal muckraker Greg Palast goes so far as to call Louisiana an “oil colony” in the documentary. Historically speaking, the documentary does a very good job at expressing how true this statement is, but also how it continues to be true.
Oil companies have given congressmen, senators and governors of Louisiana cumulatively several million dollars over the past few years alone, while keeping a stranglehold on local economies.
BP even went as far as in the immediate aftermath of the spill, giving Gulf-area university science departments grants of up to $10 million. Unsurprisingly, the environmental scientists of these departments had nothing but glowing things to say about BP’s cleaning efforts and Corexit.
“The Big Fix” made it extremely easy to see just how ridiculous our subservience to oil is. An entire ecosystem is in peril, people are getting sick and thousands of jobs have been lost just because of the desire to bypass a few rational safety precautions in order to save what amounts to pennies for the oil industry.
These are just some of the reasons “The Big Fix” kept me awake last night. I cannot recommend this documentary enough. It provides you with one of those rare instances of self-reflection and blood-boiling passion for a cause that desperately needs attention.
You can check out the trailer for “The Big Fix” below. . .