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May 8, 2013

An Eventful April for Oceana’s Climate and Energy Team

Oceana’s climate and energy campaign had an eventful April. In our ongoing effort to stop East Coast offshore drilling before it starts, we’ve been working hard to prevent the oil industry from taking the first step toward drilling: seismic airguns to explore for oil.

The specifics of seismic airgun testing are worth understanding if only because the oil industry seems to be counting on Americans’ lack of knowledge about this highly specific technology in order to get a foothold in some ocean areas that have been protected from drilling since the Reagan administration.

But we know better. We know that seismic airguns are horribly destructive to marine environments. We know that seismic airgun blasts will injure or kill 138,000 dolphins and whales in the Atlantic, including some North Atlantic right whales, which are critically endangered, with only 500 individuals remaining. We know they will be detonated every 10 seconds for 24 hours a day and 7 days a week for months on end. And we know that when enough Americans find out about this, we will be able to convince President Obama not to approve it.

We took big strides toward this goal in April by running 25 events on campuses and in communities all across the country. From the California coast to the Arizona desert and from the plains of Nebraska to the rocky shores of Maine, straight down the East Coast to Florida, Oceana volunteers dressed in hazmat suits staged “mock oil spills” and sounded off with air horns and other noise makers to visually and audibly simulate the disastrous effects that air gun exploration has on the oceans.

At the same time, volunteers highlighted Oceana’s new report about seismic airguns, passed out brochures and stickers, and even picked up several mentions in the press.

At the same time,  actor and Oceana board member Ted Danson launched a petition calling on President Obama to reject the use of seismic airguns on the ecologically sensitive and economically irreplaceable Atlantic seaboard.

All told, April was a month to remember on the Oceana grassroots team. Besides being Earth Month, and the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon spill, this year it was the month we launched a national campaign to stop the use of harmful airgums in our oceans. We’ll be putting together more actions like this over the summer and fall, and we need your help. Sign up to volunteer to run an event, gather signatures, write letters to powerful people, or spread the word via social media. When it comes to stopping seismic airguns, we need all hands on deck.

Matt Dundas, Campaign Manager, Climate & Energy Campaign