This originally appeared on my Facebook page on Sept. 23rd.

What can you do TODAY to combat climate change? Tomorrow is the deadline for public comment!

September 23, 2014 at 11:26am

In a multi-pronged approach, the fossil fuel industry MUST stop polluting our planet and must be forced to pay for their ruinous environmental practices. By penalizing the polluters and forcing them to transition to sustainable and renewable energy sources (solar, wind, geothermal, etc.) while cleaning up the environmental “dead zones” they have created, we send a message that we will not stand for “business as usual” at the expense of our planet’s future.

On April 28, 2012, ExxonMobil Pipeline Company spilled approximately 2,800 barrels of crude oil into a bayou and stream in Louisiana. The spilled oil contaminated the surrounding soil and polluted the waterways which impacted aquatic vegetation, tributary banks, and surface water leaving in its wake dead fish, birds and other forms of life.
The spilled oil also created an oily film sheen upon the surface of the water which causes internal bleeding and slow death in mammals, among other things, and suffocates other ecosystems in its path.

The US Dept. of Justice, acting on behalf of the EPA, filed a Consent Decree fining the company only $1.4 million dollars for causing the spill. Keep in mind that just one year after THIS spill, ExxonMobil had a much worse spill in the Northwoods Subdivision in Mayflower, Arkansas creating a “dead zone,” and leaving the town unlivable. For more information, please go to this link: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/115624/exxon-oil-spill-arkansas-2013-how-pipeline-burst-mayflower.

The Department of Justice has a public comment period relating to the Consent Decree. The email address for public comment is: pubcomment-ees.enrd@usdoj.gov. In the “Subject” area of your email, please write “United States v. ExxonMobil Pipeline Company, D.J. Ref. No. 90–5–1–1–10941” and the actual email may be addressed as such: “Dear Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resources Division:”

You can either read further about this incident, or simply state that this fine is insufficient. The DOJ has also filed a concurrent document called a “Complaint” against ExxonMobil in which they are trying to penalize the company $12,040,000. Although there is no public comment on the Complaint, you are welcome to refer to it, perhaps saying that this amount ($12 million dollars) is more in line with the damages ExxonMobil caused, or anything that you want to say. Please submit an email to the Department of Justice and stand up for the planet. The deadline for public comments is October 2nd.

In case you’re interested in reading the “Complaint,” here is the link: http://www.justice.gov/enrd/ConsentDecrees/ENV_ENFORCEMENT-2472103-v1-EXXONMOBIL_-_COMPLAINT.PDF
Below is a copy of my email, which you can copy and re-send, if you wish:

Dear Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resources Division:

I would like to submit a public comment on the Consent Decree in “United States v. ExxonMobil Pipeline Company, D.J. Ref. No. 90–5–1–1–10941.”
I have read both the Consent Decree and the Complaint. I find the Consent Decree’s agreed upon amount ($1.4 million dollars) woefully inadequate given a) ExxonMobil’s record of recklessly polluting our environment, b) their seemingly blatant disregard for proper safety and maintenance protocols, and c) their continued violations and criminal actions in pursuit of their own commercial gain. In fact, approximately one year later, they had another major pipeline rupture in Mayflower, Arkansas, effectively leaving the town a “dead zone” (http://www.newrepublic.com/article/115624/exxon-oil-spill-arkansas-2013-how-pipeline-burst-mayflower). According to a report by the Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, 3.1 million gallons a year have been spilled into our precious environment between 2008-2012, and that doesn’t even take into account the innumerable spills which continue to occur and are kept secret by big oil companies (http://bigstory.ap.org/article/ap-newsbreak-100s-nd-oil-spills-not-publicized).

I believe that the upper limits listed in the complaint ($12,040,000 US dollars which is $4,300/barrel) would also be completely inadequate. This is a company, and in fact, an industry that has thumbed their proverbial nose at not only our legal system, but also our political system and the wildlife and delicate eco-systems that they mindlessly trample upon. I, for one, am sick of it and I am pleading with this office to levy additional penalties, charges (criminal) and any other legal instruments that you have at your disposal against this corporation. As you are probably aware, BP was fined $42 billion dollars for their 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill, for which they were considered “grossly negligent” (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/bp-found-grossly-negligent-in-2010-spill/). This is the kind of penalty structure which must be inflicted upon the fossil fuel industry or else the fines and penalties are simply absorbed within their immense financial structures and do not result in tangible behavioral and system-wide change.

Only when the cost of doing business exceeds profits will there be any morsel of respect for the law, and even then it will merely be aligned with whatever level of scrutiny that oil companies operate under. Our planet is heating up beyond repair, and we possess the knowledge and capabilities to do something about it. The Department of Justice can play a decisive role in harnessing the rampant criminal negligence of those who continue to, among other things, impede the implementation of changes in energy policy which are coming far too slowly to protect the vulnerable creatures, large and small, in our world.
As physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson once said, “There are no scientific or technological obstacles to protecting our world and the precious life that it supports. It all depends on what we truly value and if we can summon the will to act.” I implore those who can do more to do just that for those who have no voice.

Sincerely,
Schatzie