The realities of incidents like the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill were portrayed on a much smaller scale on the Diag midday Tuesday.
In front of prospective student tour groups and students walking to class, four students donned yellow HAZMAT suits and scrubbed oil off of inflatable sea creatures and held signs that read, “Oil Hits Home” and “Windmills Don’t Spill.”
On Tuesday, the Central Student Government’s Environmental Issues Commission in partnership with the NGO Oceana, hosted Drilling in the Diag in honor of Earth Week.
The mock oil spill was designed to show the “dirty and dangerous” side of oil dependence and garner support for a future with more environmentally-friendly fuels.
In front of the oil spill, the group set up a mini wind farm. Probably unplanned, wind power also blew pamphlets and posters off tables and the oil spill loose from its position.
Beth Wallace of the National Wildlife Federation and Virginia Shannon from Environment Michigan spoke at the event.
Wallace discussed the Obama administration’s decision last year to approve drilling in the Arctic Ocean. She said off-shore drilling is “extremely risky” referring to recent major oil disasters, such as the Gulf of Mexico Spill and the Embridge Energy pipeline spill in the Kalamazoo River. Shannon argued that Michigan has a unique responsibility to invest in fuel efficiencies and clean energy because it’s surrounded by 20 percent of the world’s fresh water.
LSA senior Lydia Geschiere, an event organizer, hoped it would be a “comprehensive educational experience” that would help people realize that oil dependence does not have to continue.
Students passing by the event were encouraged to sign a petition supporting a transition to clean energy in the United States. The group collected almost 200 signatures by the end of the event.
David Smith, a parent of a prospective student on a tour, said the event made the University stick out to him more than other schools.
Engineering senior Mardan Niyaz said the event allowed him to gain a new understanding about drilling for oil.
“I am a chemical engineer, and this is what we do,” Niyz said. “It is good to know what political scientists think about this because we have totally different views and a different perspective than they do.”