More Offshore Drilling and Disasters?

By Lena Moffitt, Sierra Club

In the face of recent international climate reports showing a bleak and harrowing future for our planet and more than one million species if we do not take immediate and significant action to stop climate disruption, it is appalling that the Trump administration continues to push fossil fuels. While at this point we should not be surprised by the lengths that the Trump administration will go to help its fossil fuel buddies, that does not mean we should stop fighting.

The latest dirty move is this: Not long after the ninth anniversary of the deadly Deepwater Horizon tragedy that killed 11 people and spilled millions of barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced a plan to roll back safety standards for offshore drilling.

In particular, Bernhardt — whose cozy relationship with the fossil fuel industry is well-documented — wants to roll back the blowout preventer rule, which was put in place by the Obama administration in direct response to the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster. Getting rid of this commonsense safeguard will put workers in harm’s way and is a direct threat to coastal communities and ecosystems by risking more oil spills.

Not only is the administration trying to make offshore drilling more dangerous, they are also simultaneously pushing to expand drilling into nearly every corner of our public waters. Last year, the administration released a draft proposal for a massive expansion of drilling off America’s coasts, including in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans as well as the Gulf of Mexico. Fortunately, the release of that final plan has been delayed indefinitely, thanks to a recent court ruling (which we were involved in) rejecting the administration’s attempt to undo protections for the Arctic and Atlantic oceans from drilling.

We’re thankful for that delay, and we certainly hope it’s permanent. We will continue to call for a stop to these reckless plans, just as so many people did when that draft plan was released. It faced widespread opposition from coastal communities and elected leaders from both parties.

Arctic drilling protest

The public filled a public hearing in Raleigh, North Carolina, in March 2018 to make sure the Interior Department knew they oppose any offshore drilling. Photo by Erin Carey.

Millions of Americans weighed in to say, loud and clear, that they do not want offshore drilling. Communities along the coasts have also passed more than 150 resolutions in opposition to seismic blasting and drilling, and both Democratic and Republican governors, from New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, California, Washington, and Oregon, have opposed drilling off their coasts.

Any plan for offshore drilling is a reckless attempt to sell off America’s coasts to the fossil fuel industry. US waters, just like public lands, belong to all of us, and they should never be threatened — especially by oil rigs. Any attempt to drill for oil or gas off our coasts will threaten our coastline, communities, marine ecosystems, and our efforts to combat climate disruption.

We need leaders at all levels of government to wake up and take action like millions of people around the globe have already done. No more fossil fuels. We cannot afford to wait.

Originally posted here.