The Louisiana people know how to open their hearts and have fun! I have had the distinct pleasure of living in Louisiana; and what a time I had! The people, the food, the landscape is unique to themselves. In my travels across the United States experiencing different cultures and people, I have never encountered such a warm and inviting place. As you walk the New Orleans French Quarter, every sense comes alive! The smell and taste of excellent Cajun cuisine, the sight of art and architecture surrounds you, the feel of the items at the farmers market, and the sounds of rich jazz floating through the streets fill you up!
Louisiana people also know what it feels like to struggle and encounter hardships. Hurricane Katrina tore through the gulf-states in 2005 leaving coastal damage in its wake. Again, on April 20, 2010, 50 miles off the Southeast coast, an oilrig exploded and sank two days later, and continues to spill 5,000 barrels of oil per day damaging miles of coastal land and precious wildlife.
As a Californian, you might be asking yourself what does an oilrig spill over in the Gulf of Mexico have to do with the West Coast? In February, I spent a glorious weekend in Santa Barbara. As we were driving up Highway 1, my friends thought they saw 4 big ships out off the coast. I informed them that they were oilrigs. They were shocked at how close the rigs are to the beach. They didn’t look real, these huge hunks of metal just sitting off the beautiful coast!
Well, three Santa Barbara environmental groups have negotiated a deal with Plains Exploration & Production, a Houston based driller, to dismantle four federal jurisdiction offshore rigs so they can drill in the Santa Barbara Channel temporarily. With the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Santa Barbara deal is no longer being supported by Gov. Schwarzenegger and has become a hot topic in California. Currently, there are 20 platforms actively working in the Santa Barbara Channel.
As with everything in life, there are positives and negatives. The decision is with you to decide what side of the rig you sit, but getting involved and educating yourself is the first step in making that choice.
This is also a wonderful opportunity to dive into environmental issues, such as this one, with your students. When you have a real 'case study' unfolding, the students can better understand the various consequences, decisions, stakeholders, and environmental impacts.
Rae Ann Jimenez