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How you can really help spill-affected Gulf communities



How you can really help spill-affected Gulf communities

1. Donate. “Everyone wants to come wash a pelican or help clean up the oil,” says Aaron Viles, campaign director for the Gulf Restoration Network. “The role of volunteers in all this is relatively limited, so not everyone can come. But they can definitely show their support for a full and complete recovery.”

Maybe it sounds hokey, but your $10 donation also nabs you a petroleum-free, black wristband that shows you stand with Gulf communities. If the United States was ever truly a nation of New Yorkers, as many attested following 9/11, the time is right for another mass conversion.

2. Go Electric. With electric cars starting to hit the showroom floors, the prospect of eliminating the internal-combustion engine is finally nearing reality. Banning transportation combustion would take a serious wedge out of the American petroleum diet and lower the need for the riskiest of drilling. If you can’t trade into an electric vehicle, you can lobby lawmakers to help speed the industry’s transition.

“If it were the rule instead of the exception, we would not necessarily have to be going into the ultra-deep waters and be ultra-risky in how we find this oil,” says Viles.

3. Party NOLA! Or Bay Saint Louis. Or Gulf Shores. Or Key West. Or Corpus. “New Orleans is 60-plus miles from the Gulf of Mexico. So New Orleans will be New Orleans whether there’s oil in the Gulf or not,” Viles says. “As much as oil is indeed coming ashore everywhere, there are a number of beaches that have been spared or will have been cleaned. So it is certainly something that, if you can, you should support these economies by coming out here.” And if you were even thinking twice about hitting your own Texas beaches, come off it. This may be the nation’s largest human-caused environmental disaster, but Texas is still way out in the clear. Perry’s call to prayer must be working. Eat that, sinful Louisianans. Oh, wait. They’re praying, too. Too bad no one herded the nation into the prayer closet before this supposed “act of God.”

Which brings us to:

4. Eat the Seafood. You may have to pay as much as a dollar extra per dish at the crab shack only to psych yourself up to actually swallow, but the fishing families need your mouth and digestion thoroughly committed. “If it’s on the menu, it’s safe,” Viles insists. Currently, 32 percent of federal waters are closed to fishing because of the spill and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are working together to prevent any tainted fish from slipping into port. “One of the most important pieces is that we as a nation learn some lessons from this and this never happens again,” Viles added. Though we chide our late-praying governors, we’re saying “amen” to that.

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