By Steve Blackledge, Environment America
Last week, President Trump took steps to open virtually all of our federal waters to dangerous offshore oil drilling. From the Arctic to the Atlantic, from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico, our coastlines could soon be home to countless oil rigs — and the disastrous spills that we know come with them.
Why does this matter? We know that oil and gas drilling is inherently dirty and dangerous. There is simply no safe way to drill. And oil spills have disastrous effects for our environment, from sea turtles covered in oil, to polluted beaches, to serious consequences for the life and livelihoods of Americans in coastal communities who face a loss of income from fishing and tourism, as well as a threat to their way of life.
Simply put: When you drill, you spill.
We all saw that firsthand the consequences of offshore drilling when the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig caught fire in 2010: spilling 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico; killing thousands of dolphins, sea turtles and other marine wildlife; and exposing cleanup workers and residents to toxic chemicals. The damage done to our environment and our coastal communities reminded us of the dangers of offshore drilling–and spurred action.
During his second term, heeding the advocacy of coastal communities and environmentalists, President Obama created a five-year plan that protected the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans from offshore drilling. Then, just before leaving office, he announced additional protections for parts of both oceans . But after President Obama left office, President Trump signed an executive order vacating these protections.
President Trump’s proposal to open virtually all of our oceans to dangerous offshore drilling endangers our environment, our coastal communities and the animals that live in our oceans—and it’s a step backward for our country’s energy production. Our country has the capacity to move toward getting 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources. We shouldn’t put our oceans, beaches and marine wildlife at risk for just a little more oil. We should be looking for opportunities to leave fossil fuels in the ground.
By opening our coasts to drilling, the Trump administration will be acting counter to the best available science — and the will of coastal residents. The past two years have seen an unprecedented outcry against drilling: communities up and down the Atlantic coast have passed resolutions against drilling, and businesses have organized an anti-drilling alliance. Communities in California have done similar organizing along the Pacific coast.
The good news is that the proposed plan is only the second stage in the approval process — and it is open to public comment. And from Gov. Jerry Brown of California to Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, there’s already broad opposition at the state level to offshore drilling. Everyone who cares about clean and healthy oceans should use this comment period to make their voices heard.
And we’re making it easy for you: just sign our petition, here, and we’ll submit your public comment.
As Wendell Berry puts it, “The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.”
We want 2018 to be a year where we foster our planet’s renewal by moving away from dangerous and dirty fossil fuels, and putting a stop to practices like offshore drilling that threaten our coastal communities, our oceans, and our environment.
We want 2018 to be a year we move closer to achieving 100 percent renewable energy across the country.
Are you with us?