Seder Table Talk: The BP Oil Spill Anniversary
As we celebrated Passover this year, we also celebrated the 41st anniversary of Earth Day, the global day of environmental advocacy. Talk around my seder table centered on preparing for the 50th anniversary of the Religious Action Center and the upcoming Consultation on Conscience. But then things took a darker turn as we began talking about the one-year anniversary of the BP oil spill disaster.
We all agreed that there were many elements to this dialogue that were baffling and frustrating. For example, despite the devastating impact the oil spill had on our ecosystem, our economy and the residents and communities of the Gulf, our fight to end our country's crippling addiction to oil continues to feel like a losing battle. It also angered us to learn that 11 new deep water and 49 shallow water-drilling permits were recently issued in the Gulf.
"We fight an uphill battle," said Sustainability Program Coordinator Rachel Cohen in her recent op-ed in the JTA. "Despite the influx of media, money and public attention to the gulf last April, we've yet to see Congress act to restore the Gulf, prevent future disasters or set our country on the path to a cleaner energy future. As a nation, we have stood by idly as the people of the Gulf continue to suffer and our entire country stands at risk of yet another catastrophe."
Rachel credits her personal experiences working with Gulf community activists for her positive outlook on this morose circumstance. "Despite the frustrations in Washington and the desperation of so many across the Gulf, I find hope and inspiration in the people I have met in this work." She admits, "it is easy to become discouraged by all that we have not accomplished. But I hope and believe that we are on our way to building a future in which clean air and clean water are basic human rights, where no one is shackled by environmental injustice, and where all can participate in the building of a brighter future."
I have faith that Rachel is right and I sincerely hope that as we sit at the seder table next Passover, the discussion about our planet's future and the environmental health of Gulf communities is a much happier one.