Greenpeace Calls for Emergency Moratorium on Fossil Fuel Traffic to Save Orcas, Hand Delivers Local Residents’ Messages to Orca Task Force

Petition to Governor Inslee Surpasses 32,000 Signatures Urging him to Stop Trans Mountain Pipeline to Prevent Extinction of Southern Resident Orca

August 28, 2018

Seattle, Washington—Today, Greenpeace USA called for Washington Governor Jay Inslee and his Orca Task Force to take bold action on the scale of implementing an emergency moratorium on all new fossil fuel tanker traffic through the orcas’ habitat until the Southern Resident population is stabilized. The organization has collected more than 32,000 signatures from its petition to Governor Inslee urging him to take action to address the threat that the Trans Mountain pipeline poses to the survival of the Southern Resident orcas. During a Facebook Live last week, Greenpeace USA asked people touched by the plight of the orca mother Tahlequah to “chalk” messages and drawings in support of her family. Today, the organization hand-delivered an album of these messages and drawings to Inslee’s Orca Task Force, urging it to include measures addressing the threat of tar sands tanker traffic and the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in their recommendations to protect the Southern Resident orcas from extinction.

“We know that Governor Inslee and members of his Orca Task Force care deeply about protecting orcas. Sadly, if measures aren’t taken to prevent a seven-fold increase in tar sands tanker traffic through the orcas’ habitat from the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, any measures taken to bring back the salmon could be moot. If the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project moves ahead, this could mean extinction for the Southern Residents,” said Greenpeace USA Tar Sands Campaigner Rachel Rye Butler. “Any serious attempts to do this must include stopping the seven-fold increase in tar sands tanker traffic through the orcas’ habitat from the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, however possible–including actions like an emergency moratorium on new fossil fuel traffic through these waters.

“In order to save the Southern Resident population from extinction, elected officials and community leaders must make significant strides to replenish these orcas’ main food source, salmon; eliminate imminent threats to their survival like the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion; and stifle Donald Trump’s heartless efforts to gut the Endangered Species Act.”

Greenpeace USA recently released a report that documents the risks that the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project poses to Southern Resident orcas, potentially leading to the endangered population’s extinction if action isn’t taken. The expansion project would bring a 7-fold increase in tar sands tanker traffic through the endangered orcas’ habitat. Orcas use echolocation to find salmon, their food source, and to communicate with each other. The noise alone from an increase in tanker traffic would further inhibit orcas from eating the food they need to survive, resulting in the population moving even closer to extinction. The increase in tar sands tanker traffic would also pose a risk of an oil spill that could contaminate the waters that both orcas and salmon rely on.

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Media contact:

Yianni Varonis

Greenpeace USA

Senior Communications Strategist

330-806-3599

yvaronis@greenpeace.org

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