Offshore Oil Drilling: An Environmental Bonanza

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Gore
and the Greenie-Weenies oppose offshore oil drilling anywhere off
the US coast – Oops! Excuse me, except by Occidental Petroleum
in Gore’s case. Actually the decision is up to the individual states
and the people who make these decisions in the state agencies (generally
greenies themselves) seem to agree with Gore and the environmentalists.

As
usual, here in Louisiana, the northernmost banana republic (I was
born in Cuba. I know one when I see one) we see things differently.
Of the 3,739 offshore oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico nowadays,
3,203 lie off our coast. We love offshore oil drilling, and not
just for the loot extorted from oil companies for the privilege.

But
then we’ve never followed the federal lead on anything. Indeed we’ve
been in hot water with the feds since well before the Confederacy,
since-in fact-Thomas Jefferson bought us at Napoleon’s fire sale
back in 1805. William C. Claiborne, our first American governor,
was described by historian Charles Dufour as “a strait-laced Protestant.”
Not the right man to send down here.

“To
bring these people to reason!” He thundered in his first letter
to his boss, Thomas Jefferson, “we’ll have to train the cannons
on them and batter down the walls of the city!” New Orleans was
the first “Little Havana.” In Miami they complain that “those damn
Cubans!” even after thirty years “Won’t speak English!” In South
Louisiana some Cajun families still speak French – and that’s after
230 years. Some, descended from Spanish settlers who arrived at
the same time, still speak Spanish. But what alarmed Claiborne was
his first Mardi-Gras.

The
letter went on. “They are uninformed, indolent, luxurious – in a
word, ill-fitted to be useful citizens of a Republic. Under the
Spanish government education was discouraged and little respectability
attached to science. They have no accomplishments to recommend them
but dancing with elegance and ease. The same observation will apply
to the young females, with the additional remark, that they are
among the most handsome women in America.”

English
novelist J.B. Priestly visited New Orleans in 1938 and wrote an
article for Harpers magazine titled “New Orleans, First
Impressions.” He sounded a lot like Claiborne 130 years before.
“Men of our race cannot thrive in such a climate.” he huffed. “Our
characteristic virtues cannot flower in this soil. The puritan tradition
never meant anything here, and the absence of it still leaves a
mark. There is a Latin atmosphere of sunshine, saints and sinners.

And
good thing too. We might be eating Kidney Pie down here instead
of Jambalaya and Gumbo if we’d behaved like Beltwayers back in 1815.
I refer to the Battle of New Orleans.

“Oh
the wickedness! The idolatry of this place! Great Babylon is come
up before me!” That was Rachel Jackson, Andrew’s wife, writing about
New Orleans in 1815. Rachel was the Rosie O’Donnel of her day –
a fat, noisy harridan, offensive to eye, ear, and immortal soul.

America
owes her dearly. We became a continent-girdling nation at her unwitting
instigation.

Rather
than endure this daily racket and earthquake Andrew would strap
on his sabre, mount up, and hit the field with his troops, smiting
all enemies of the pugnacious young republic. Cannibal Creeks, Bloodthirsty
Seminoles, Redcoats – a man could leap into a fray with these
and come away invigorated. Sitting across the table from Rachel
was a different matter. Hence, our current borders.

When
she wrote about the “wickedness” Rachel’s husband and a gaggle of
pirates, smugglers, trappers, cajuns, creole gentlemen, and assorted
rascals and boogalees from this “Great Babylon” had just visited
a merciless stomping on the Bloody Brits at the Battle of New Orleans,
against odds of ten redcoats to one boogalee. And not just any
ten redcoats. Led by Wellington’s cousin, Sir Edward Packenham,
these Brits had just defeated Bonaparte’s Grand Armee in the Peninsular
war. They came swaggering up the Mississippi armed to the teeth
and expecting a rout.

A
rout they got. The bogalees were used to shooting ducks on the wing,
rabbits on the run – suddenly they see the redcoats lined up and
marching. They looked at each other wide-eyed.”Can it BE!?”…must
be. “Well HOT-DAM!” Blam!-Blam!-Blam! The redcoats hadn’t learned
a thing from Mel Gibson.

History
records no battle so lopsided in odds or startling in conclusion.
Rachel’s New Orleanian hosts were celebrating the fabulous victory
with-what else?-a party, a ball actually. Like many northern visitors
to Mardi Gras she was aghast at the proceedings…”Oh the Wickedness!”…

Things
haven’t changed much. And good thing the Louisiana troops didn’t
perform like the Beltway troops. When confronted with a British
force much smaller than the one at the Battle of New Orleans, the
Beltwayers (who outnumbered the Brits) scrammed for the hills. The
British marched unopposed to Washington, DC, and torched the place.
President Madison fled. Surrender looked imminent…. Then Bonaparte
distracted the Brits again, saving the Republic. It’s an ugly and
shameful story of gross cowardice, bumbling, and buffoonery that
somehow inspired our national anthem. Go figure.

Actually
it figures perfectly. Lets see, that war saw scrappy Southerners
perform the most brilliant victory in the annals of American arms – hell
in world arms; it saw Beltwayers involved in the most shameful
defeat-to this day-in American history. It was a hideous rout. So
which one features in the national anthem?…”The rocket’s red
glare, the bombs bursting in air”…The Beltway battle, naturally.

Here’s
a lesson for anyone who thinks Beltway parochialism is anything
new.

Anyway,
a little history to help explain why we so rarely fall into lockstep
with the feds. And oh, don’t forget, it was Pierre Gustave Tonton
(PGT) Beauregard, A New Orleanian, who gave the order to fire on
Fort Sumter. And it was south Louisiana political boss, Leander
Perez-a man who called George Wallace a softie and a sell-out-who
prepared the dungeons in an old Ft. St. Phillip at the mouth of
the Mississippi River, for any “Yankee anarchists” who set foot
in his parish during the civil-rights struggles.

By
“parish” we mean what you people call a county. We still operate
under a gumbo of the Napoleonic and Spanish civil codes in Louisiana.
No counties and no UCC down here. Significantly Ft. St. Phillip
was built and named by Leander’s ancestors for the main political
champion of the Spanish Inquisition, King Phillip I. And don’t you
Protestants out there get all huffy now. Cromwell and his roundheads
killed far more Catholics in three years rampaging through Ireland
than the Spanish Inquisition killed heretics in 300 years. And you
liberals who hate all religions? Don’t look so smug. Castro killed
as many people in his first decade of power; the Bolsheviks in the
first week. Look it up in The Black Book of Communism if
you don’t believe me

Anyway,
in his defiance of the feds, Leander Perez brought even Louisiana
Governor Earl Long (Huey’s brother) to the edge of apoplexy. “Come
on, Leander!”Uncle Earl bellowed at the perpetually scowling Caudillo.”Whatcha
gonna do man?! The feds have the Bomb!”

Now
where were we?…Oh yeah, off shore oil drilling gives many people
the willies. Even some who should know better. Those pictures of
birds and beaches covered in black goo serve to nudge many otherwise
sensible people into the ruts of political correctness. Too bad.

Most
oil spills occur from tankers, not production platforms or pipelines.
Tankers are used to transport foreign oil here. We’d use
less foreign oil if restrictions on offshore oil drilling were removed.
So there.

But
forget cheaper oil and less pollution for a second. Any fishermen
or scuba divers out there should plead with their states to open
up offshore oil drilling post haste. I’m talking about the fabulous
fishing-the explosion of marine life that accompanies the offshore
oil platforms.

“Environmentalists”
wake up in the middle of the night sweating and whimpering about
offshore oil platforms only because they’ve never seen what’s under
them. The explosion of marine life around the platforms turned on
its head every “expert” opinion of its day. The original plan, mandated
by federal environmental “experts” back in the late 40s, was to
remove the big, ugly, polluting, environmentally-hazardous contraptions
as soon as they stopped producing. “Fine” said the oil companies.
About ten years ago some wells played out and the oil companies
tried to comply. Their ears are still ringing.

“Don’t
you dare touch those rigs!” We screeched…”You leave em right there!
Buster!…that’s better. They ain’t goin nowhere! And that’s final!”
We were sputtering, spraying spittle.

(That’s
exactly what Ronald Reagan would have told Fidel that about Elian-but
don’t get me started on that!)

And
why did we get so wild-eyed and hysterical about the possible departure
of the platforms? Some of us looked like Joe Carollo, other’s like
Marysleylis,

Fish
life had exploded around these huge artificial reefs, that’s why.
We envisaged our favorite fishing spots snatched up in dawn raids
and hauled off by jackbooted feds, to the clapping and cheering
of the pinko media, all to comply with some idiotic regulations
placed by silly bureaucrats long ago. And it wasn’t our imagination
either. To wit:

*A
study by LSU’s sea grant college shows that 85 % of Louisiana fishing
trips involve fishing around these structures.

*Same
study shows that there’s fifty times the amount of Marine life around
an oil production platform as around the surrounding mud bottoms.

*
Louisiana started a “Rigs to Reef” program which pays the oil companies
to keep the platforms in the Gulf! Neighboring states like Alabama
and Florida stand in line to buy old ones from the oil companies
to dump of their coasts to enhance fisheries.

*Japanese
concerns are buying them from Shell Oil for aqua-culture projects.

*Commercial
fishing vessels from Taiwan and Japan fish Louisiana’s waters.

*Louisiana
produces one third of America’s commercial fishing.

*
Most of the nation’s spearfishing records were winched aboard around
these oil platforms.

*And
not one oil spill! Not one!

In
1986 Louisiana started the Rigs To Reef program, a cooperative effort
by oil companies, the feds, and the state. This program literally
pays the oil companies to keep the rigs in the Gulf. Now they just
cut them off at the bottom and topple them over as artificial reefs.
58 have been toppled thus far. Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries
officials were recently invited to Australia to help them with a
similar program.

Yes,
Australia. Yes, the nation with the Great Barrier Reef-the world’s
biggest natural reef, the world’s top dive destination-they’re asking
help from Louisiana about developing exciting dive sites by using
the very structures that epitomize-in greenie eyes-environmental
disaster. In Louisiana we know better.

You
could cover the Great Barrier Reef with a huge oil spill and radioactive
waste, spear every last one of it’s fish, including the angel and
butterfly fish, during a mega spearfishing rodeo featuring ten thousand
drunkards blasting the fish with power-heads, purse-seine, trammel-net
and long-line the area until there was nothing left but three half-starved
butterfly fish-do all this, then drop three oil platforms nearby
and in three years you’d have more and bigger fish than the total
of those photographed by the enviro-yuppies around the Great Barrier
Reef.

Put
that in your environmentalist pipe and smoke it.

Perhaps
I exaggerate a little. But you get my point. A coral reef might
be pretty, an “undersea rain forest” in the words of yo-yos like
Sting and Jackson Browne. Viewing them might help with your “transcendental
meditation” afterwards. But if what you have planned afterwards
is a serious bar-b-cue featuring five kegs of Bud, a White-Russian
machine for the women, 7,500 cold drinks for the munchkins (all
of which will be opened and not one of which will be empty-or even
half-empty) and requiring enough grilled fish for this raucous horde
of hungry bogalees, cajuns, and red-necks, I’d head for an oil platform.

The
panorama under an offshore oil platform staggers the most experienced
divers. I’ve seen divers fresh from the Cayman’s Wall surface from
under rig too wired on adrenalin to do anything but stutter and
wipe spastically at the snot that trails to their chin. I’ve seen
an experienced scubababe fresh from Belize climb out from under
a platform gasping and shrieking at the sights and sensations, oblivious
to the sights and sensation she was providing with her bikini top
near her navel.

I’ve
seen the less venturesome surface and vow never to rig-dive again.
Feeding six-inch parrotfish fifteen feet under a dive boat while
surrounded by ten yuppie-dive mates and three dive masters on a
Caribbean vacation is one thing. Swimming through schools of 30
pound jacks, against a backdrop right out of Dune, Total Recall,
or Aliens is quite another. Flavor it up with the snaggletooth grins
of a dozen five-foot barracudas, who surround you-then scatter at
the approach of a 15 ft. hammerhead shark, who snatches the 20 lb.
red snapper from your dive buddy’s speargun in an explosion of scales
and fish scraps.Then three manta rays-each wider than your garage-materialize
from the blue haze behind the shark. All this after a descent through
40 ft of chocolate murk (Mississippi River water floating over the
heavier salt water) where you couldn’t see two feet while being
buffeted by a raging current. After this, most divers are quite
ready to devote the rest of their diving lives to feeding the parrotfish
and petting the manatees, thank you.

***

(A
book titled Helldiving that deals with scuba-diving around
these platforms will be out this December. It’s an adventure book.
How else to describe a book about guys (and a few gals too) who
plunge 200 ft under the Gulf, jab 400 lb. tiger sharks and 300 lb.
grouper, wrestle them to the surface-then bar-b-cue them? But it’s
not all gore and lechery. It’s also laced with viciously sexist
and reactionary politics. We’re talking a literary value-pack for
the Southern white male here-and his wife or girlfriend, if she
has a sense of humor.)

Credentials:
My work is published in Sierra, Scuba Times, Salt Water Sportsman,
Bowhunter, Bow Masters, Buckmaster, Tide,Ocean Sports International,
and a few others. I write monthly features for Louisiana Sportsman
, Louisiana Conservationist, and Game & Fish.

One
of my articles titled, “Why We Hunt,” provoked the biggest blizzard
of hate-mail in Sierra’s history, or so the editors told
me. They even sent me a humongous envelope crammed with the blistering
prose for my reading pleasure. Reason for all this outrage?
I told the truth.

Credentials

I
was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1954, emigrated with my family in 1961
and grew up in New Orleans. I earned a BA in history from the University
of New Orleans in 1977 with best-selling author, Dr. Stephen Ambrose
(a rabid New Leftist at the time. Don’t let him fool ya
nowadays. Pat Buchanan is one of the few who know. ) as a professor,
friend, and writing coach. Then a MA from Tulane University in the
same discipline the following year. I’ve been married for 20 years
(to the same person) and have three kids.

I’m
a frequent guest on New Orleans’ radio talk shows where we discuss
my unorthodox “Cajun-Cuban” fish and game recipes and timely hunting,
fishing, and spearfishing tips-not to mention Elian Gonzalez. I
had a ball with the Pinks and Reds last month.

While
a student at Tulane, where Ché Guevara T-shirts were commonplace,
especially among faculty, I also wore one. But mine showed a different
pose from the one you see on Havana billboards, Ivy League campuses,
and Hollywood mansions. Mine was a bound and terror-stricken Ché,
standing next to a smiling Felix Rodriguez, the Cuban-American CIA
operative who captured him in Bolivia.

Felix
looks like me in a hunting picture-except that my deer is dead.
All in due time. The mighty Ché got a taste of the same medicine
he applied to 8,000 Cubans (The
Black Book of Communism
) seconds after the shutter snapped.
Ché was hell on smiting his enemies alright. But only when
these enemies were bound, gagged, and blindfolded. His academic
groupies and press agents beat the drum about some “valiant guerrilla
fighter” but any “battles” in his “war” against Batista escaped
those who lived in Cuba, especially those who supposedly fought
against him. As in southeast Asia, the blood really started flowing
only when “Peace was given a chance.”

The
proof of the pudding was indeed in the eating in Ché’s case.
Finally finding himself in bona-fide battles, finally up
against men who could shoot back in the Congo and Bolivia
(Cuban exiles working for the CIA as it turned out. Who says Ms.
Justice is blind?), Che was outfoxed, outfought, routed, and got
a taste of his own medicine. Thanks to Felix Rodriguez, justice
has never been better served. Though Felix wanted him alive, the
Bolivians insisted on wacking him. They envisaged the worldwide
media circus had he been taken back to the US alive. They were undoubtedly
right.

But
the Bolivians didn’t tape Ché’s mouth shut before blasting
him, whereas Ché had insisted on gagging his Cuban execution
victims as they were tethered to the stake in front of the paredon.
Their shouts of “Viva Cristo Rey!” and “Viva Cuba Libre!” as the
volleys ripped into them had to be muffled, you see. They were upsetting
the other prisoners, in their cells awaiting their turn.

My
father was one, listening to the shots every dawn, waiting his turn-which
never came. He still can’t figure out why. He lives here in New
Orleans now, and bow-hunts deer from climbing stands at the age
of 73 (same age as his University of Havana classmate, Fidel). Anyway,
my T-shirt made for lively class discussions. I felt like David
Irving at a B’nai Brith meeting. I’d have loved one with Ché
hanging feet first, like a buck on the meat pole, but alas, you
can’t have everything. The class discussions were lively enough,
believe me: “Hey, freedom of expression, right? Don’t you Reds and
Pinks always squawk about freedom of expression? And you want me
to remove this shirt?”

Got
to where I almost needed bodyguards for protection against these
“champions of freedom.” I know how David Irving feels. Though he’s
obviously nuts, the campaign against him makes me chuckle bitterly.
I know a little something about the denial of mass-murder. Like
I tell my Jewish friends: “Imagine Holocaust denial as the official
version of history from academia and the media! Imagine if that
was all you heard.” That’s how us Cuban Americans feel.

“Why
“President” Castro is no mass murderer. Those are laughable lies,
propagated by the millionaires and mafiosos he dispossessed. He
has a different view of democracy from us, that’s all.” And so on,
and so on. Oh well, maybe I can write about that another time, Mr
Rockwell.

July
28, 2000

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