Barbara Newell contributed to this letter.
Top Kill has failed and we are looking at a high likelihood of two more months with an active oil spill (image from the Examiner). You – we all – are living a painful time. As hard as it is for those of us watching the nightmare unfold on our screens, it’s got to be extremely tough for you who are working for EPA, BP, or the vendors involved.
You’re decent people just like us, walking a very rough road right now, and I want you to know you’re not alone. I am sure you are as demoralized as I am. It breaks all of our hearts, making us upset as we contemplate the long term implications for our environment and the future.
I have a small inkling of how you might be feeling. I used to represent several defense manufacturers, and a tobacco company. I was not proud of this work, but I had to do it at the time. Sometimes I refused to admit my work to my friends. I was ashamed.
Our families rely on us to bring home a salary and health insurance. We can’t just quit working, even if we want to.
Many of us feel betrayed and lied to by our leaders. And we all are consumers of Big Oil. My wife and I try our best to make conscious choices, but we still drive cars (one is a hybrid). We ride in airplanes. We use oil to heat our home in the winter. We consume and need the products that you produce.
But we cannot just give a collective helpless shrug, look the other way and hope it gets better — somehow, someday. We must act.
We must support you, and you need to help us. Forgiveness is the only option. Your work today — not yesterday — is critical to our collective future. How can we help BP, and everyone who works there (or any oil company for that matter), to get things on the right track – in a real way, and not just for PR’s sake?
The country needs you to show up and do great work, and do so in a manner that places the environment and the general public interest first. That does mean going the extra mile, and sticking your neck out at times. Whether it’s having the courage to question a decision that doesn’t seem ethical, or simply asking for additional help, please step up and do your best.
Our priceless natural heritage and the future are hanging in the balance. I feel this more than ever, as my wife carries my first child. We need to work together to get ourselves out of this crisis.
P.S. Looking for ways to take action online? Check out this Huffington Post article providing details several different efforts, or donate to the National Wildlife Federation’s campaign to Help Wildlife Impacted by the BP Oil Spill (also my birthday campaign).