Sunday, October 22, 2017

Book Review: 'The Big Spill' by Kenneth Eade

Kenneth Eade may be best known to readers as the author of ’Bless the Bees: The Pending Extinction of our Pollinators and What We Can Do To Stop It, and A Bee, See: Who Are Our Pollinators and Why Are They In Trouble? - two superlative books about his concern for our environment, a topic he takes to the top level in his superb books. Eade is an international business lawyer, based in Los Angeles, specializing in international law, Internet Law, appeals and complex litigation. He is a member of the Bar of California, the federal District Court for the Central District of California, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal. He holds a Juris Doctor in Law from Southwestern University School of Law, and a B.A. in Liberal Studies from California State University, Northridge. He is also an accomplished filmmaker and a freelance writer for the Los Angeles Daily Journal as well as an environmentalist.

What most readers who hear the name of Kenneth Eade now think about is the name Brent Marks – a very special breed of Perry Mason cum Jason Bourne cum Jack Ryan et al – men who face tough action with skill and finesse. Eade bring back his established character Brent Marks (Marks is the Americanization of his true last name, Marquez, which indicates the flavor of this potentially controversial book), the lawyer who yearns for cases more interesting that those assigned to a `poor man's lawyer.' And once again he is in top form as he uses his ‘created lawyer’ Brent Marks (this is Book 10 in that series!) to demonstrate the very current controversy of environmental challenges we face.

Perhaps it is the fact that Eade is an accomplished lawyer that he presents his story to the reader thus: ‘The Refugio Oil Spill in May 2015 was not the largest oil spill by volume compared to its counterpart in 1969 or the Gulf of Mexico spill in 2010, but it was big enough to deposit over 142,000 gallons of crude oil into one of the most biologically diverse coastlines on the west coast and caused hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of damage. The spill was blamed on a negligently maintained corroded pipeline which remains closed to this day, but it highlights the dangers of offshore drilling in general, especially in this day and age where we are supposed to be lessening our carbon footprint. In my lifetime I have watched the government manipulated by special interests get away with a lot of things, offshore drilling being only one of them, but the thing that really surprises me is the lack of public outcry at the poisoning of our air, water and oceans, when it is entirely unnecessary to do so. Offshore oil drilling specifically and drilling in general is contradictory to the policy of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and lowering our impact on climate change. The Gulf of Mexico spill alone proved that the oil companies’ modern technology, which they claim makes offshore drilling safe, cannot avert such as disaster, especially at such depths. And despite all the claims of safety, the transport of crude is unsafe and has resulted in many disastrous spills. Despite the fact that it is not safe and not environmentally sound, the Obama administration is considering permits for the southeast coast of the Atlantic, where reserves are estimated at 3 billion barrels of oil and 25 trillion feet of natural gas. Leasing has been scheduled for 2021. There are also plans to allow more leasing in the Arctic and the Gulf of Mexico. The most surprising thing I came across in my research for this book was that, in 2013 California state legislators received reports that Santa Barbara channel offshore rig operators had been fracking off the coast since 2010. The lawmakers called for a federal investigation to look into it, declaring, “Hydraulic fracturing poses great potential dangers to our sea life and all California residents. This controversial well stimulation technique needs greater scrutiny, particularly when it potentially jeopardizes our coastal way of life. Whatever your position on climate change, it cannot be denied that, despite big oil’s claims of safety, there continue to be adverse consequences to the environment, local economies, and marine life from offshore drilling and these disasters are 100% preventable by not allowing offshore oil in the first place. THE BIG SPILL, the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill, sparked the green revolution in America, making way for the most comprehensive environmental legislation that the country has ever known. The first Earth Day was celebrated after the disaster. What happened to those environmentally conscious individuals? They couldn’t have all turned to money when the green revolution was forgotten in favor of the greenback revolution. We know this because more people in the country got poorer and the wealth has been concentrated in the hands of the one percent. We need to get back on the green bandwagon now, before it’s too late.’

Briefly, the synopsis shines a light on the core of the book’s tale: ‘Mother Earth needs help, but at what cost? After a large oil spill threatens the coastline of Santa Barbara, Lawyer Brent Marks' girlfriend Rebecca takes on the big oil companies. Initial victories in her class action case lead to her all-out declaration of war against fossil fuels. When she turns up missing, a suspected victim of foul play, Brent finds himself questioning whether to continue with the case.’

Another top-flight novel from the master of intrigue – one of his best. Highly recommended Grady Harp, October 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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