By Stanley Campbell
I don’t know what to do about that oil spill. People keep harping like we should go down to the Gulf and turn the spigot off, or bring a mop and bucket and clean it up ourselves (that might be a good way to put America back to work). Or, maybe we should demonstrate in front of the local British Petroleum (BP) gas stations here in Rockford. Those poor guys get blamed for everything, from the high price of gas (which we have seen much higher) to the oil-soaked pelicans now inhabiting the coast.
I suggest asking your congressman why he likes to “drill, baby, drill.” He supported cutting oversight and basic regulations. BP could lackadaisically build a rig in the deepest part of the Gulf and not worry about anyone telling them to do it right. I’m bringing to Rockford a congressman known for her consumer protection.
I am hosting a dinner, celebrating my 25 years doing urban ministry for the United Methodists. I’ve asked U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) to be the keynote at Rockford Urban Ministries’ (RUM) 48th annual dinner, Sunday, July 18, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Grace United Methodist Church, 3555 MacFarland Road, Rockford, will host the affair, with the United Methodist Men & Women’s groups serving.
Jan is a friend and a consumers’ rights advocate who just grilled some oil executives over a slow fire. I saw her on C-SPAN, and she was great! I’ve asked her to talk about the environmental problems of dousing a gazillion gallons of crude on pristine beaches. She was active with Illinois Public Action when I was first hired in 1985, and from her, I learned about consumer activism and utility rate reform.
The dinner is $30, open to the public, and begins at 5:30 p.m., but you need reservations ($30 can be sent to “RUM Dinner, 301 Dawn Ave., Rockford IL 61107.” Vegetarian dinners are available).
To be frank, all of us who drive and use petroleum products are to blame for the spill (don’t you just hate those platitudes?). We encourage production, and some of us don’t care where it comes from, just as long as the gas is cheap and plentiful. Remember when John B. Anderson (God bless him—our best congressman ever) proposed a 50-cent tax to pay for new forms of energy that wouldn’t destroy our environment? If we had elected him president, and taken the tax, I bet we could’ve been driving electric automobiles now.
To those of you boycotting BP, good for you! Let them know that! Send a letter to the business and tell them they have to clean up their mess and pay for the damages. Then, write a letter to every politician who supported drilling platforms way out where they shouldn’t be, and tell them THEY should clean up the mess and pay for damages.
And tell the same thing to our new president, the one who wanted change but seems to be a nicer version of George W. By the way, our own Congressman, U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo (R-16), is a great believer in “drill, baby, drill.”
I do have political pins that express these sentiments exactly—$3 and you can pick them up at my office (201 Seventh St., in the fair-trade store), at the July 18 dinner with the congressman, or On The Waterfront at State and Wyman.
Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.
From the June 23-29, 2010 issue