By Robert Vernon
If you pull this off financially you have turned a trick-or-treat bag of state handouts into a gold brick. If you mess up, you have turned our cosmic hamlet into an oil slick. Your treat should not be our trick. We don’t begrudge your chief executive officer’s $300,000. We don’t begrudge the directors $2,500 per board meeting. In this age, it’s reasonable. What we do begrudge is the callousness you take with the beauty of this place we call home, and our livelihoods. We sell pure unspoiled nature.
That you live in Singapore and Australia and have not experienced this inlet, nor will you feel the devastation that your rig may wreak, does not console us. That you would chance an oil spill in pristine waters that 60 percent of the state lives by is not reassuring. To lose our salmon runs, to have glaciers that run down to the sea be dappled by oil drives a knife into our hearts.
To gamble a tourist trade that brings this town more in a summer than your company is worth picks our pockets. That you relied heavily on state financing sticks in our caw. You don’t seem to understand that an oil spill would wipe out most of what we came and settled here for. We’re not buying an oil spill for this Bay. We will do everything to keep you from drilling this year and drive you into bankruptcy.
You brought in shoddy equipment and don’t know the condition of it. Or maybe you do, as you at first refused to let the press aboard. You have no contingency plan.
You screwed our neighbors up in Kenai, taking more than a year to pay on a successful well, and then only under the threats of liens and lawsuits.
You can’t make it through summer storms on this piece of the North Pacific, and you want to put our investment out on it and drill? Sadly, we paid eight times what you paid for that rig. We’re leery about people who haven’t made it through a winter here and we’re real leery of you.
You haven’t showed responsibility. If you lived here, would you let yourself drill?
One screw-up leaves our cosmic hamlet desultory, degraded, dependent and destitute. We’re a proud people without you. Why risk that? Nonetheless, I’m willing to deal:
• Get the rig up to Alaska conditions – we’re not talking about where the steel of the rig will handle 15-degree temperatures, we’re talking about 40-foot tides, 14-foot seas, 70-knot winds and mile-long ice floes. The 30-knot winds where you declared an emergency and lowered the legs? Winter has much worse in store.
• Be open and honest with the community.
• Get the necessary permits; first one being U.S. Coast Guard approval to untie from the dock. Pay your parking tickets, pay for the damage.
• Time and again you push for a special waiver. Don’t. These permits are our paper-thin protection between us and disaster.
• Devise a contingency plan that works. Have the equipment onsite. When you say you will ask others in the industry to help, remember, once you screw your neighbors, it’s hard to get them to show up at your house fire with anything but marshmallows.
• Drill the deposits that can be drilled from land, from land. That means the Cosmopolitan. Don’t put our homes and livelihoods up as collateral so you can cash in on a $20-million incentive.
Got it? If you don’t, we’ll drive you into bankruptcy. But remember, you drove yourself 90 percent of the way.
We’ll write to HSBC about their 8 percent, to Citicorp about their 6 percent, to Merrill-Lynch and Chalmsbury about what already must look to them like a shaky deal. We’ll oppose your West Eagle where permits expired. By the end of winter, getting out at 4 cents a share will look like a good deal.
And I’m the nice guy, willing to deal. Most people here would tell you to go home and take your rig with you. No thank you, we don’t want what you’re selling. I wish you luck in your onshore ventures, but I wouldn’t run against the tide in these waters.
Robert Vernon is an occupational therapist who has lived in the Kachemak Bay area for 34 years.
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