California and Fossil Fuel: All Hail Mammon!

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Top photo by Tim Forkes

In the last dozen or more years my primary focus, number one issue, has been the climate and our environment. Just a couple months ago the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially declared the ivory-billed woodpecker extinct. Its range had been along the Gulf Coast, from the Florida Panhandle to Texas. The primary causes of this extinction being habitat destruction, hunting and the changing climate. That’s just one animal, among dozens of animals and plant life.

In the oceans certain shark species are in severe decline. Overall 71% of all shark species have declined and about half of all species studied are considered endangered. The shortfin mako shark, which can be found in tropical and temperate waters on both sides of the Americas is near extinction, mainly due to fishing.

Shark and swimmer
( )

Locally, we may be seeing an increase of great white sharks off the coast of Southern California, especially in San Diego County waters, but the species is in decline around the world. It’s kind of ironic that many beach goers in Southern California have no idea there is, most likely, a juvenile great white shark just a stone’s throw distance from them. Here’s some screenshots from a YouTube video showing just how close the great whites are to local surfers and swimmer.

Shark and surfers
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That all being exposed, for the most part sharks, like the great whites, are in decline across the globe.

Does anyone remember there was an oil spill off the coast of Orange County? I’m sure people remember. It started off Huntington Beach and began spreading and there were oil slicks reported as far south as the waters off the North San Diego County beaches.

Wildlife, birds and fish primarily, were killed and quite frankly we don’t even know how much this spill has impacted the area. Experts are estimating of course, but when we add up all the oil spills from the past 60 years — just here in U.S. waters — the impact is staggering.

Anyone old enough to understand even the rudiments of environmental news in January and February of 1969 remembers the Santa Barbara Oil Spill. Right now it is the third worse oil spill disaster in U.S. waters, behind the Deepwater Horizon and the Exxon Valdez. Years ago I spoke with Playboy’s Miss March 1978, Christina Smith. Part of her Playmate pictorial was shot on the black tar beaches of Santa Barbara. I was shocked to find out, from her, the beaches weren’t naturally black, that the color came from the oil that was still leaking out of the ocean floor at the spot the oil well had its blow out. The coastal communities suggested things to do to enjoy the Santa Barbara beaches, one of which was to wear disposable footwear and use old towels that could be tossed at the end of the day. The reason: They would be covered in oil.

The Pacitif Ocean from the
University of California, San Diego
(Tim Forkes)

Oil rigs cover the coast of California and the waters of the Santa Barbara Channel.  Actually they go all the way down to Mexican waters.

We are destroying our planet, destroying our home. A couple billionaires want to relocate to Mars … well by all means send them to the Red Planet, but the rest of us have to save this planet because our species has nowhere else to go.

We spend $800 billion on the Military-Industrial Complex every year. Can you imagine if we took a third of that — no, let’s not be starry-eyed dreamers — if we took 25% of that wealth and spent it on ways to save the planet, what a difference $200 billion would make. Actually, I was really of my rocker thinking about using half that $800 billion to save the planet … (chuckle) … This is America. Money is God, we worship at the Altar of the Bottom Line.

Our Father, who art in the cash register
Hallowed be thy denominations.
Your kingdom has come, your will we do,
On Earth and eventually on Mars as well
Give us this day, our meager pittance
so we can make more of you,
And forgive us for taking the occasional day off,
As we forgive those that are too old or sick to work.
Lead us not into a slacker life,
And deliver us from all that hippie nonsense
about peace and love and a sustainable life.

For this is your kingdom,
and the power and glory goes to those,
with the most money.
Now and until the end times.

Ah-Men! Or Women!

All Hail Mammon! All Hail Mammon!

Most people will claim Judaism, Christianity or Island as their religion, but don’t you believe it. All three worship the same god (The God of Abraham), but they can’t even get along. Hell, some Christian denominations denounce others as … non-Christian? Satanic? I’m an atheist so I might be in league with Lucifer himself and just don’t know it!

Anyway, that’s an entirely different topic.

Del Mar Beach (Terri Gayzur)

The automakers are pulling away from the fossil fuel energy crutch, with all-electric or primarily electric vehicles.

The infrastructure and Build Back Better bills do a lot to address the climate crisis, but it is still a drop in the bucket of what needs to be done.

We can start by removing all the oil rigs from the coastal water off California and in the Gulf of Mexico. Make permanent the ban on oil (energy) and mineral exploration in fragile and sacred lands like the Arctic Wildlife Refuge and Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Remove all the interstate pipelines in the U.S. There are 2.5 million miles of energy pipelines in America … many of them way past their designated life expectancy.

Remember when that town in Texas blew up, or more accurately the oil and gas processing plant exploded? The Texas City Refinery Explosion at the facility that was owned by British Petroleum. This was after the Deepwater Horizon disaster.  Apparently British Petroleum likes to cut corners.

No big deal. Just sell the refinery to Marathon Oil and get back to business as usual. We don’t care if we pollute the air and water we need to survive. We’re all making Mammon!

Oh, Holy Mammon!

And forget everyone that died, or nearly died, when all the power went out in and around Houston — when Senator Ted Cruz and his family left their dog behind as the rushed out of Houston on their way to Cancun, Mexico.

All Hail Mammon!

Windansea Beach, Ja Jolla, CA
(Tim Forkes)

That was all cool, Ya’ll. We made it legal for the energy companies to price gouge during the worst of times. And price gouge they did, knowing their energy grid — which is blocked off from the rest of the U.S. grid — was horribly obsolete and inadequate for the task of operating during a once-in-a-lifetime cold spell. But hey, they were making billions of dollars off the residents of Texas. The residents voted for the Texas politicians that have given the energy companies, and the “Electric Reliability Council of Texas,” ERCOT for short, the ability to screw the average Texans. And screw they did.

All Hail Mammon!

Texans should look over this website thoroughly and see just how entangled the energy industry is with your state government and the control they have over the quality of your life.

Not that California is a heck of a lot better than Texas … well it is in many ways, but when it comes to the fossil fuel industry, not so much. The electric companies have commercials in daily rotation, 365 days a year, telling us to live uncomfortably because the state doesn’t have enough electricity to go around.

California imports more electricity than any other state in the lower 48.  We get it from Arizona, Utah and the Pacific Northwest. So we have to deal with rolling blackouts, putting our thermostats at this temperature or that, depending on the season.

Can you imagine giving every home owner in California a huge check for the sole purpose of outing solar panels on their roof or in their yard? Or in my case, on/in the patio to power this little condo?

There I go, starry-eyed dreamer again.

Crowds at Pacific Beach, San Diego, CA
(Tim Forkes)

If people start controlling their own energy, utilizing what should be theirs, what happens to all those profits Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric are pulling in?

This is off the topic of the oil wells in and around California.

You think the Golden State is so damn progressive? Look at the oil rigs and then ask us if this state, the Golden State, is really a very progressive enclave?

Sure, you can get in trouble for using the wrong pronouns, or for calling this sexy Instagram influencer sexy, or this one. Then there is that mandate that in 14 years we will have a zero-emission rule for heavy duty trucks. At least 60% of the trucks must be electric or hydrogen fuel cells.

On the other hand, the oil and gas industry spent millions to defeat climate crisis legislation in California, like SB-476 and AB-480 and SB-260. AB-480 did eventually pass.

What’s so wrong about having public health officials declare public health emergencies when there are oil spills or refinery flares and explosions? Yeah, explosions.

Earlier this year a pipeline at a Chevron oil refinery in Richmond sent thousands of gallons of diesel fuel into San Francisco Bay. Because their lobbying efforts are so successful regulators are having a hard time getting data on the spill. Privately the mayor of Richmond, Tom Butt, was not impressed with the cleanup efforts after the February 9 spill, but publicly Butt gave the public a cheery message. The city has been going round and round with Chevron for years. Apparently refinery flares and explosions are fairly routine at all the refineries in and around Richmond.

Pacific Beach, San Diego
(Tim Forkes)

Money talks, climate legislation walks.

So we live with oil and gas rigs, oil and gas leaks, fouled air and water, dead wildlife, refinery flares and explosions — explosions, blows my mind — we live with all of that because we lack the political and social will to let go of our fossil fuel legacy.

Did you know that only about 10% of the coastline in San Diego County is undeveloped? Would you be surprised to learn that developers would like to develop 90% of that remaining coastline because, you know, All Hail Mammon!

The state gets a lot of money from the fossil fuel industry, through taxes and lobbying. Makes you wonder why Elon Musk and Larry Ellison claim to have relocated their businesses to Texas.

Don’t get me started on the nuclear energy.

This is California. Bow down to Mammon. We will just look more progressive than the rest of you, when we’re doing our curtsies.