Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New Oil and Sea Turtles

(from the October Editor's Note in AsphaltPro Magazine)

My name is Sandy Lender and I’m an environmentalist. It’s good to see I’m among friends here in the asphalt industry. Truly, if you’re a member of the asphalt industry, you’re an environmentalist. You’re a conservationist.

I could harp on this industry’s care of the land we mine for aggregates, our caution keeping dust out of the air, our excellent track record keeping contaminants out of the ground, or our successes protecting workers from what minimal fume our end product emits, but people reading this column already know these things. Instead I’m going to tell you something that might surprise you a little bit.

I’m what you would call a “raving” environmentalist. Yes, I abhor the plastic water bottles. I carry cloth bags with me to the grocery store. In fact, when my first novel was published, I had cloth bags with my book cover printed on them made up to hand out as promotional items to help with that whole “Down With Plastic Bags!” movement. I participate in coastal cleanup days and I volunteer with a sea turtle conservation project called Turtle Time.

That brings us around to the Gulf of Mexico, the large body of water near which I live. I moved here from the Midwest for one reason, but stayed for the conservationist opportunities available to me here. I’m not saying you can’t find worthy and rewarding causes to aid in the upper states—and I encourage everyone to get involved in a cause that brings you a sense of accomplishment and joy—but my heart is at home with the marine issues.

Recently, some workers for BP drilling way out by the Keathly Canyon in the Gulf found an incredibly deep, and incredibly flush, reserve of oil. When I say incredibly deep, I mean that they sunk the drill to the depth of the height of Mount Everest (or a little further). That’s how far into the planet the workers probed to extract the blood we need.

This looks like it’s going to bring in about 3 billion barrels of domestic oil once it’s producing. Now, that’s not going to happen until about 2015, give or take, but it’s supposed to make life nicer around these parts.

Some might say the Tiber Project has really come through.

I stopped to consider what I thought of that. Are the folks at BP putting responsible practices in place for pulling that much product up and getting it to shore? We’ve got a declining loggerhead sea turtle population along the Gulf shores of Florida right now. Will increased activity a few years from now worry those turtles right away from one of their few ideal nesting grounds? Maybe the canyon is far enough away, being about 250 miles southeast of Houston, that the turtles will just gracefully glide on by. Maybe the officers at BP care about marine life management enough to take such things into consideration while they plan for increased profits and increased traffic. I’ll be one of the members of the environmentalist asphalt industry watching to see how they handle it.

Stay Safe
Editor, Sandy Lender (sandy at theasphaltpro dot com)

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