Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Apr 25th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Rep. Sam Farr

SamFarrNewHow has public opinion and state and national plans for offshore oil drilling been affected by the BP oil spill?
A poll came out on May 6 that I thought had some very interesting numbers. Among the results, 20 percent of respondents said they’d drive less, attributing their decision directly to the oil spill in the Gulf [of Mexico].

There’s no way to tell if those numbers will hold up, though I suspect the longer the spill goes on and the worse the damage, the more likely they’ll hold true.

But when we look back at the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, or further back to the 1969 spill off Santa Barbara’s coast, how much did the country really change because of those accidents?

I think we need to keep that bigger picture in mind as we move forward. Our country is addicted to oil. We’re addicted to gas, and we’re addicted to driving. And like many addictions, nothing much will happen without outside pressure.

Memories fade.

I think that means as anti-drilling advocates and policymakers try to make changes, to reform the system, we need to do it while it’s forefront in the public mind.

My colleague, Congressman John Garamendi from Walnut Creek, recently introduced the West Coast Ocean Protection Act. This bill would permanently prohibit offshore drilling in federal waters off the coast of California, Oregon and Washington.

The Santa Barbara spill led to the creation of the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the declaration of the first Earth Day. We need to learn from that lesson. And we need to learn from the Gulf spill. And we need to remember them.

Offshore drilling is a high-risk proposition for limited gain.

California coastal counties provide 12.3 million jobs and $1.6 trillion to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. For the entire West Coast, we’re talking 15 million jobs and $1.9 trillion toward our GDP. We have to ensure those economies are safeguarded.

Congress must recognize the enormous importance of the ocean and our coastal areas and help preserve these natural resources so future generations can benefit from the economic activities that depend on them.

You recently announced an upcoming meeting on the issue of blood donation by gay men. Can you expand on that?

Currently the Food and Drug Administration has a policy banning blood donation by any man who has had sex with another man even one time since 1977. The FDA calls it a “permanent deferral.” I call it discrimination.

I say discrimination because this ban continues to be upheld despite two decades of scientific advances in blood testing. Science has advanced, but our policies haven’t kept pace.

Despite the continued ban, I’m happy to report that we’re at least seeing some movement from federal regulators.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently announced a meeting of its Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability for mid-June to review the ban.

It took a couple years, but this workshop is the first of what I hope will be several in response to language I wrote for the fiscal year 2009 Appropriations bill, the legislation that funds FDA.

In that bill, I called for the FDA “to conduct workshops and engage in other forms of communication with federal agencies, organizations involved in blood collection and others, to ensure that those organizations and the public understand the latest scientific information available on blood safety issues.”

The advisory committee, known as the ACBSA, will hear presentations and engage in deliberations on the donation ban. Members will discuss factors to consider regarding a possible policy change, whether current scientific information would support a policy change, studies necessary to implement a change and whether additional safety measures would be needed to assure blood safety if the ban is lifted.

I’ve been concerned about the lifetime blood donor ban since a high school student in Santa Cruz brought the issue to my attention. It has also been raised as an issue at UC Santa Cruz.

The FDA absolutely must continue to emphasize a safe, clean blood supply. But it should do so in a way that bases its “deferrals” on behavioral risk and not just sexual orientation.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

We Can Rebuild You

A look back at how downtown Santa Cruz recovered from the 1989 earthquake

 

International Earth Day—Mother Earth Day

Every April 22, humanity celebrates International Mother Earth Day and Earth Day. As more than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities every year, Earth Day has become the world’s largest civic observance. The massive concern to build right relations between humanity and the living being we call Earth is evidence of humanity’s love of the Mother. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 22 International Mother Earth Day, with a significant resolution affirming “the interdependence existing among human beings, other living species (the kingdoms—mineral, plant, animal and human) and the planet itself, the Earth which we all inhabit.” The Earth is our home. Celebrating Earth Day helps us define new emerging processes (economic, social, political) focused on the well-being of the kingdoms. Through these, humanity seeks to raise the quality of life, foster equality and begin to establish right relations with the Earth. We dedicate ourselves to bringing forth balance and a relationship of harmony with all of nature. Learn about planting a billion trees (the Canopy Project); participate in 1.5 billion acts of green. Disassociation (toward Earth) is no longer viable. We lose our connection to life itself. Participation is viable—an anchor, refuge and service for all of life on Earth. Visit earthday.org; harmonywithnatureun.org; and un.org/en/events/motherearthday for more information. From Farmers Almanac, “On Earth Day, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, contact with the soil, companionship with nature! Go barefooted. Walk through woods, find wildflowers and green moss. Remain outside, no matter the weather!” Nature, Earth’s most balanced kingdom, heals us. The New Group of World Servers is preparing for the May 3 Wesak Buddha Taurus solar festival. We prepare through asking for and offering forgiveness. Forgiveness purifies and like nature, heals.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Mission Critical

How reading Lisa Jensen’s reviews taught me to love film
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Oral Fixations

Blown away by a Tuesday night dinner at Oswald

 

What would you like to see a TED talk about?

Hydrogen-gas cars that are coming this summer. Scott Oliver, Santa Cruz, Professor

 

Sarah’s Vineyard

Sarah’s Vineyard of Gilroy is known for crafting fine wines—and one of my all-time favorites is its Chardonnay. But this time, its Viognier has my vote.

 

Munch

East Coast meets West Coast in new meat lover’s paradise