Another year, another oil spill. This time it’s the whimsically named “Pegasus” pipeline in Mayflower, Arkansas. The 850 mile pipeline is 65-years-old and was originally designed for thinner oil to flow in the opposite direction. With the great tar sands boom, oil companies are desperate to get the heavy bitumen to the market. Since it’s thick asphalt, they need to dilute it with all sorts of chemicals to get it to move through pipes. When one bursts in your neighborhood, presto bango, your yard’s all fucked up.
The extent of the damage is not known at this point, and ExxonMobil is doing its damnedest to prevent anyone from knowing by instituting a no-fly-zone over the spill. And thanks to the fact that this is bitumen pumped with chemicals, the mess doesn’t technically qualify as “oil,” so ExxonMobil’s exempt from paying for the cleanup.
As for Monsanto, one of the congressmen (Cough, Bloy Runt, cough) who’s attached to agribusiness’s teat slipped an anonymous rider into last week’s appropriations bill that has been colloquially dubbed “The Monsanto Protection Act.” This’ll expire in September, and isn’t the end of the world, but shows how disproportionately influential a company with deep pockets can be.
Despite what the final gag in the cartoon might imply, I’m not reflexively against all genetically modified foods. I just wanted to draw Audrey II from “Little Shop of Horrors.” GMOs have done wonderful things like improving yields in drought-ridden parts of the world, and making tomatoes that don’t turn to shit on their way to my grocery store. My beef with the rider is that it blocks any oversight or regulation on untested GMO crops. Factor in their aggressive protection of their GMO “intellectual property,” even when it’s their crops breeding with their neighbors’, disregard for damage done to the environment, and their resistance to labeling GMOs, Monsanto is as bad as any oil company.