Energy Pimps

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By Matt Walker

“The U.S. Department of the Interior protects America’s natural resources and heritage, honors our cultures and tribal communities, and supplies the energy to power our future.”

That’s how the DOI describes itself. But I’ve got a better description: energy pimps. At least for its Mineral Management Service. After all, how else can you describe an organization that actively aims to exploit a fresh piece of coastal ass even as its wore-out, beat up Louisiana hooker is bleeding oil to the tune of 200,000 gallons per day? And when I say exploit. I mean exploit.

I just got back from the MMS meeting in Norfolk, VA over seismic testing — the first round of battles that’ll go down before they get to drilling. Call it the foreplay before getting down to the real rude and crude business.

I heard the Governor of Virginia’s spokesperson open the hearing by calling the Gulf disaster a “setback.” I also heard an oil lobbyist shamelessly urge the MMS to push into the North Atlantic, even as they’re dealing with a spill larger than Rhode Island in the Gulf. But the most salacious “Hey baby” sales pitch of all came from the MMS smooth-talkers themselves.

Not only did they downplay the damage to marine mammals that seismic guns cause, and its effects on commercial fishing. They actually implied that finding oil and gas was only one small reason for exploring. A minor concern. A side note. Number three on a list of weightier issues, like finding out which bathymetry works for wind-farms or finding suitable sand for beach nourishment in case a hurricane rips our coast apart.

And as I watched them grease the room with a mix of promises and fear , it came to me: They’re not just the pimps, they’re the hos. And the johns. Playing whatever role the energy lobbies and companies want — so long as they get paid. The only difference is, when the transaction’s made and the money changes hands, they strut away in their fine fancy suits — while we coastal residents get royally fucked.