Wildlife is Footing the Bill for Our Oil and Coal Addiction
NOTE: This is a guest post from Leda Huta, Executive Director for the Endangered Species Coalition.
As we lumber ahead in this new global economy using the same fuels that we’ve used for the past 200 years, fighting the same old fights over oil and coal, wildlife is increasingly footing the bill.
Despite the incredible ingenuity, creativity and talent of Americans, our leaders have insisted on keeping our energy economy literally stuck in the age of dinosaurs–a time when the oil, coal and natural gas that we use today was being formed. Instead of moving forward, oil and gas industries, flush with record-breaking profits have wielded their power to keep us mired in oil. And the toll these industries exact on our nation’s disappearing wildlife has been severe.
Even with pictures of oil-soaked pelicans from the Deepwater Horizon disaster seared into our collective memories, these industries have not paused. The oil industry was not chastened by its failure and has not begun to proceed cautiously. Unhindered drilling continues in the Gulf, putting species such as the loggerhead sea turtles that narrowly escaped disaster in the last spill, at constant threat of another.
The Department of Interior has granted Shell Oil permission to begin incredibly risky drilling in the Arctic. A spill in the Beaufort or Chukchi Seas–the Polar Bear Seas–would be a catastrophe without a solution. No technology exists to clean a spill in these icy waters and the area is without the necessary infrastructure to support emergency operations. Yet, Shell is moving forward even though a spill could harm numerous threatened and endangered species–polar bears, Pacific walruses, northern sea otters, beluga whales, North Pacific right whales, Stellar’s eiders, and spectacled eiders to name a few.
Meanwhile, the nation’s largest business lobby, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is aggressively backing the species-killing Keystone XL Pipeline. If built as proposed, the Keystone XL Pipeline would immediately threaten wildlife. Among the species that would be harmed is the endangered American burying beetle–now limited to just 10 percent of its former range. The pipeline would further displace this endangered species and put the beetle at constant risk of a toxic spill.
Oil development isn’t the only harbinger of death for imperiled species. Coal is equally dangerous. From coal ash to mountain top removal, coal impacts come in many forms harming the Indiana bat, the Tan riffleshell (a mussel), and the Kentucky arrow darter (a fish). These species and more are being pushed to the brink of extinction by fossil fuel development. We need your help to demonstrate this deadly toll on imperiled wildlife and plants.
The Endangered Species Coalition is currently preparing our annual Top Ten Report. This year it highlights imperiled species most harmed by fossil fuels. A group of esteemed scientists will choose the top ten species.
We need you to help us demonstrate that Americans across the country worry about fossil fuels harming threatened and endangered species. The report will include an “activists’ choice” species–the species that Americans most want to protect from dirty fuels. Please take a minute and vote for the species you think is most harmed by fossil fuel development, extraction or transportation.
Continuing to rely on these dirty fossil fuels is a slow motion wildlife crisis. Our Top Ten Report will show that. Please add your voice to the report by voting today.
Photo credit: NOAA