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Columbia University students
Leadership students

Columbia University students

The graduate students contributing here are members of "Leadership Development" at course at Teacher's College, Columbia University, taught by On Leadership panelist Todd Henshaw.

GOP job plan for Gulf coast?

Q: Republican leaders have built their energy policies around increased oil and gas extraction, dismissing environmental dangers. How should they respond to the Gulf oil spill if they want to preserve offshore drilling as a politically viable option?

Turning on the evening news, I am horrified by the images of hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil pouring into the once-fresh and fertile waters of the Louisiana Gulf region. I hear stories emerging of local fishermen and shrimpers, descendants of long legacies of sea-based traditions, unable to practice their trade as the government attempts to contain this situation. These hard-working, dedicated Americans, confronted with the prospect of unemployment, are being offered the opportunity to stay in work through lending their time and labor to the government in its regional clean-up efforts.

Are these the new jobs that Republican leaders promised Americans when they supported the initiation of new off-shore drilling efforts? Is this how the American workforce should be developed to face the challenges of an increasingly complex global economy? Rather than enhancing the skills of our workers, we force them to clean up the messes of stubborn leaders who are impervious to the global need to invest in renewable energy resources.

In order for offshore drilling to be considered a politically viable energy option, such disastrous accidents must be prevented at all costs. Leaders responsible for such incidents must be held accountable. Accidents that endanger the local environment and disrupt the regional economy should not be considered acceptable collateral damages in the pursuit of energy.

Leaders on both sides of the political debate must open their minds to new sources of energy. Renewable sources of energy have been shown to have little likelihood of producing disastrous outcomes if any malfunctioning in their operation occurs. The last time I checked, both wind and solar energy have not been responsible for the direct destruction or devastation of any land area.

Nonetheless, over 210,000 gallons of oil will be unnecessarily spilled into the Gulf region today due to Republican leaders' inability to accept this reality. This flow will only truly stop once these leaders can ensure the nation, through both their words and deeds, that such accidents are a thing of the past. -- Neaka Lynn Balloge

An environmental, not political, crisis

Politicians should wait to assess the damage from this catastrophic oil spill and then make an informed decision based on a cost-benefit and environmental impact analyses. If the evidence point to oil companies' inability to prevent, or at least anticipate, and thereby improve processes to manage and contain these kinds of catastrophes, our political leaders should adjust their positions based on these findings.

The fallout from this transcends political party lines. It is not a Republican or Democrat disaster -- it is an environmental disaster of epic proportion. I hope our politicians remember this despite their quests for self-preservation. -- Taren Cowan

"Renew, baby, renew"

Preserving offshore drilling is no longer a viable option, and never has been. As humans and humanitarians we must accelerate the lever full throttle and start acting on our sustainable options. This oil spill is a wake-up call, similar to the 1973 Oil Crisis with OPEC. Without the crisis, many countries would not have set energy efficiency standards and promote solar, wind and biomass developments.

There is no better time than now to re-think the potential for our energy. We have the capability to safely and securely power the planet with natural, renewable and sustainable options. Every hour on the earth's surface falls enough solar energy to meet world energy needs for an entire year. Our energy problems would be solved if we could find a way to harvest that energy instead of temporarily drilling to cause more destruction.

True leaders who care about our future must step up and find a way to harness power without hurting Mother Nature and ourselves in the process. -- Michael Ellenbogen

By Columbia University students

 |  May 4, 2010; 1:40 PM ET
Category:  Political leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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"Are these the new jobs that Republican leaders promised Americans when they supported the initiation of new off-shore drilling efforts?"


Posted by: ThomasWMutherJr | May 4, 2010 6:42 PM
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"The last time I checked, both wind and solar energy have not been responsible for the direct destruction or devastation of any land area."

Actually, wind "farms" are threatening some of the last tallgrass prairie on the Great Plains. Wind developers target the prairie coteaus for siting their "farms". Coteaus are long ranges of low hills, moraines left by glaciers. Their ruggedness has spared them from being farmed, but being 300 feet above the surrounding terrain has cursed them to wind towers and the roads to maintain them. Here's a passage from a recent post sent to a discussion group for S. Dakota ornithologists:

For those of you who have enjoyed the prairie coteaus scenery, this may be your last summer to do so. One wind farm is already completed in the Crandall-Crocker Hills and a second is planned for this summer. A third wind farm will be under construction by this fall that will run from Ortley north to One Road and Drywood Lakes through some of the best remnant tallgrass prairies in the state. While I'm for alternate energy, these wind projects are only contributing to further fragmentation and destruction of this increasingly rare ecosystem.

Posted by: michaelmelius | May 4, 2010 5:32 PM
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Wasnt that Jindal giving the Republican speech after President Obama's address to the nation ? WOW HOW IRONIC THAT THE HAND THEY TRIED TO BITE OFF IS THE HAND JINDAL NEEDS. TALK ABOUT KARMA BEING A WITCH

Posted by: vcubain | May 4, 2010 3:01 PM
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