This represents the third in a series of blogs developed by the American Littoral Society, meant to help empower our members and fellow citizens of the coast to stand up in opposition to the recent proposal made by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke for the 2019-2024 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program.
The comment period for the National Outer Continental Oil and Gas Leasing Program closes Friday, March 9, 2018. In light of the Department of the Interior proposing the largest selloff of oil and gas leases in United States history, we offer 10 reasons that the U.S. should and could kick Big Oil to the curb. We welcome you to share this information with your family, friends, networks, and as an official comment to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
- We JUST did this. The federal government recently completed an exhaustive, multi-year offshore drilling planning process. Restarting that process just a few months later is nothing more than a handout to private oil companies. A handout that will cost taxpayers millions of dollars in staff time to recreate a plan that we already have in place.
- We should not prioritize oil companies over American citizens. The Department of Interior is putting all of America’s federal waters on the table, including areas that are currently protected, ignoring the voices of a majority of Americans.
- Exploration for oil damages our ocean ecosystems. Even before offshore drilling begins, the seismic airgun blasting to obtain information about the location of fossil fuel deposits under the seafloor can severely damage wildlife in the ocean, disrupt marine animal migration routes, and compromise the food chain.
- Oil drilling will inevitably lead to oil spilling. We have seen it time and again – from the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the ongoing Taylor Energy leak in the Gulf of Mexico, to the 2017 leak in Alaska’s Cook Inlet. Offshore oil drilling is not safe – especially considering the proposed roll backs of offshore drilling safety regulations put in place after the Deepwater Horizon spill.
- Protected marine areas will be in harm’s way. In 2015, the federal government’s own analysis said that drilling in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea had a 75 percent chance of seeing a major oil spill. This and other known risks of oil spills all point to why just should not open our protected areas to drilling.
- Our future is in renewables. Transitioning to clean, renewable energy will provide jobs and keep America on pace with the global shift toward renewables rather than regressing into the past. Our energy attention should be focused on strengthening the Blue Economy, growing the job market, and becoming a global renewable energy leader.
- America does not need more oil. Risking our coastal environments and economies and national security enriches international oil conglomerates without making us more secure. The fossil fuel industry has stockpiled decades worth of oil reserves, more than what is needed to transition to a carbon-free future. There are far less risky energy sources to develop and use that do not come with high environmental risk and continued taxpayer subsidies for some of the wealthiest corporations in the world.
- Offshore drilling poses serious threats to coastal communities. From the impacts of coastal wetland loss, to the ever-present risk of oil spills, these threats, among others, have created a groundswell of bipartisan support across the country for protecting not drilling, our coasts.
- Climate change impacts are already harming the ocean and coasts. From sea level rise, storm surges, and erosion, coastal communities from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico are already on the front lines of climate change impacts. They will suffer the brunt of any oil spill on their beaches, which threatens public safety, kills wildlife, and destroys local economies that depend on a healthy ocean and clean coasts.
- Offshore drilling means adding more polluting fossil fuels into the air, further contributing to climate change. These carbon emissions will impose high costs to society in coming decades, leading to illness, flood damages, and disrupted agricultural productivity.
If you are as outraged as we are that the Department of the Interior is proposing to hand over our public waters to the highest bidder, we urge you to reject the drive to drill in these cherished ocean places for oil that America does not need, just to bolster fossil fuel industry profits. The public has spoken and the science is clear. Share this post and submit comments to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management by March 9.