Protecting our Coasts, Communities, and Climate from Offshore Oil Drilling

By Vicky Wyatt

by Vicky Wyatt

October 30, 2017

©Mark Meyer/Greenpeace

Largest oil and gas lease sale in US history” screams the Department of Interior’s press release, followed by a long list of quotes from members of Congress slavishly admiring this step to lock us all into more climate change-inducing fossil fuels.  Of course, they would say that when so many are bankrolled by oil and gas billionaires.

Go along the east coast, however, where Greenpeace’s ship, the Arctic Sunrise, has been touring, and it’s a different story.

Residents of Wrightsville Beach, NC hold up a banner opposing offshore oil drilling.

Coastal communities along the Atlantic Ocean — indeed, across the country, from Alaska to California to Louisiana to North Carolina  — are deeply concerned about Trump’s eagerness to open up their coasts to the oil industry. They couldn’t be clearer – they don’t want drilling on their doorstep – not just because an oil spill would devastate their communities and local wildlife, but because drilling for more fossil fuels will worsen climate change that so many of them have been experiencing for years.

Offshore Drilling Banner in Richmond

Greenpeace activists hold a banner in front of the Virginia State Capitol reading “Gov. McAuliffe: Say No To Offshore Drilling.” Outgoing Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe supported drilling for oil off the coast of Virginia but recently changed his position on the issue and publicly opposed it in August 2017.

In the aftermath of  hurricanes Irma, Maria and Harvey, and record-breaking wildfires running rampant through California, it is ironic that we should be allowing oil companies to drill for more of the stuff that is driving climate change and the increasing the intensity of events like major hurricanes and intense wildfires.

Next month, Trump will publish his proposed plan for our federal waters to be offered up to oil companies to drill offshore. We’ve joined together with communities fighting to protect our coasts, and we won, and we can win again. We have shown that when millions stand together we can take on and defeat the oil industry and show that our climate, our coasts, and our communities are more important than the profits of a handful of oil billionaires.

It’s not just the Trump administration that is bending over backwards to make things easier for the oil and gas industry. Some of our members of Congress are considering two bills that will make it easier for industry to drill offshore, with fewer safeguards. The first, the Streamlining Environmental Approvals Act,  will severely weaken  the Marine Mammal Protection Act and fast track the process to allow seismic airgun blasting, the precursor to offshore oil drilling. By the government’s own estimates, the current seismic blasting proposals for the Atlantic Ocean could harm or kill up to 138,000 marine mammals over the next several years, including the endangered North Atlantic right whale. The second, the Accessing Strategic Resources Offshore (ASTRO) Act,  seeks to strip the ability of future Presidents to create new national marine monuments and reduce public consultation on where the oil and gas industry should be allowed to drill.

We’ve seen people rise up to protect their communities, their coasts, and the climate and claim victory over the oil and gas industry. Together, we stood up to Shell and its plans to drill in the Arctic Ocean. Because of our opposition to seismic blasting in the Atlantic Ocean, permits were denied and our oceans were safe. Together, we won protections for the Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic Ocean. And can do it again if we stand together!

Want to take action right now? Sign this petition to your representative to prevent the fast tracking of seismic blasting, which is the destructive first step to offshore drilling.

By Vicky Wyatt

Vicky Wyatt is a climate campaigner for Greenpeace USA. 

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