When I wrote yesterday that Sarah Palin had authorized the dumping of unprecedented amounts of toxic waste into Cook Inlet, Alaska, I imagined it was bad, but I had no idea how bad. It turns out that the amount of toxic waste that Sarah Palin agreed to allow oil company Chevron to dump into Cook Inlet is in the billions of gallons. Billions.
Rob Ernst, a forward-looking commercial fisherman who has lived on Cook Inlet for his entire life, points out that Sarah Palin’s excuses for allowing the dumping of toxic waste into the water don’t hold, well, water. Sarah Palin says that the economy of the Cook Inlet area will die if Chevron can’t dump billions of gallons of toxic waste into the waterway. Ernst points out that the Cook Inlet economy will die if Chevron does not stop dumping billions of gallons of toxic wastes there. “These toxic pollutants taint our efforts to brand and market Cook Inlet salmon as clean, healthy and wholesome — an essential component in our fight for market share against a glut of farmed fish on world markets,” he writes.
After what I’ve learned about what Chevron has been doing to the waters of the Cook Inlet under Sarah Palin’s approving watch, I certainly wouldn’t eat Cook Inlet salmon. The toxic wastes that Chevron has been dumping into the Cook Inlet are byproducts of its oil drilling operations: Poisonous heavy metals like arsenic, lead and cadmium, as well as the crudest dregs of crude oil production – the stuff that isn’t even fit to burn or pump into asphalt. That is what Chevron has been dumping in the billions of gallons, with Sarah Palin’s permission, into the Cook Inlet.
It was last year, 2007, that Chevron applied to the EPA to get a special waiver to break violate the Clean Water Act, and triple the amount of toxic wastes it would dump into the Cook Inlet. In order for that petition for a special waiver to succeed, Chevron needed the approval of the Governor of Alaska. Sarah Palin could have said no. She could have stopped the massive pollution of commercial fishing waters in Alaska. Sarah Palin didn’t do that. She decided to give Big Oil exactly what it wanted.
This morning, one of our right wing readers, a supporter of Sarah Palin, tried to justify this atrocious betrayal of the public trust. The reader tried to pit the needs of humans against the needs of the endangered beluga whales of the Cook Inlet – whales that Sarah Palin has argued should be left to deal with the toxic wastes from Chevron all on their own. “What’s more important…Human life or a beluga whale?” the reader wrote.
It’s a question based upon a false presumption – the presumption that what’s good for wildlife is bad for human beings. Actually, human beings are in as much danger from Sarah Palin’s program to fill the Cook Inlet with poisons as the whales are.
Cadmium, arsenic and lead aren’t just poisonous to belugas. They’re also poisonous to human beings. Human beings are being sold fish and shellfish caught in the Cook Inlet to eat as seafood. Studies have found that Cook Inlet fish and shellfish contain dangerous levels of these heavy metals.
Chevron’s toxic waste dumping is turning delicious seafood into a deadly treat. Commercial fishing from the Cook Inlet is now bringing poison to Americans’ dinner tables, thanks to Chevron and Sarah Palin.
Chevron, instead of dealing with the problem, is trying to cover it up. Chevron has actually tried to prevent further research about the health effects of pollution in the Cook Inlet from taking place. Sarah Palin has not raised a single protest about those efforts.
The tragedy of it all is that there is technology referred to as reinjection that could greatly reduce the amount of toxic waste that enters Cook Inlet waters, while not reducing Chevron’s production capacity at all. Chevron refuses to consider reinjection, however, preferring to dump toxic waste in the old, sloppy ways developed generations ago.
The billions of gallons of toxic waste being dumped into Cook Inlet are unnecessary, and they’re harming the economic interests and the health of the Alaskans that Sarah Palin has sworn to serve. If Sarah Palin gets elected Vice President, and becomes President after the likely death of John McCain, all America may suffer her cruel indifference in the way that the people and animals of the Cook Inlet have suffered.