Ocean Advocates Urge Congress to Block Expanded Offshore Drilling | Oceana USA

Oceana/Jess Howard

Yesterday, top business leaders, local elected officials, state lawmakers and military leaders from across the country urged Congress to block the expansion of risky offshore drilling along their coasts. During a virtual day of advocacy, residents who depend on a clean and healthy ocean urged lawmakers to protect our oceans from expanded drilling.

Why now? President Trump hasn’t slowed his efforts to open nearly all federal waters to dirty and dangerous oil drilling, even in the face of a public health crisis. Recently, administration officials stated publicly that work on the drilling plan continues. President Trump also issued a proclamation, marking June as “National Ocean Month,” however he used this to call out the “enormous opportunity” to expand the offshore oil drilling. Luckily, Congress has the power to stop this disastrous drilling venture before it begins.

Yesterday, ocean advocates called on members of Congress to take action this year. People who live and work along the coast urged their representatives to protect our coasts from expanded offshore drilling through the upcoming Interior-Environment Appropriations bill. For nearly three decades, Congress blocked new oil and gas leasing in federal waters through protections renewed in annual appropriations bills. Doing so will block President Trump’s plan to expand offshore drilling, which would only further threaten coastal communities and businesses shuttered by the current pandemic.

Coastal leaders also asked their members of Congress to support a permanent extension of the current drilling moratorium off Florida’s Gulf Coast. Without action, this moratorium will expire in 2022. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which allocates defense funding, is the perfect vehicle for creating a permanent moratorium in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. This area provides military testing and training activities that are critical to national security. Advocates urged their elected officials to permanently protect these waters in the NDAA. Doing so ensures vital military operations can continue uninterrupted, while also protecting Florida’s economy and environment from the risks of offshore drilling.

Oceana thanks its advocates for coming together virtually and telling Congress that President Trump’s reckless drilling plan puts our oceans, coastal economies and national security at unnecessary risk. They amplified an important message coming directly from the coast: Block the expansion of offshore drilling this year.

Constituents from Maine meet with Rep. Chellie Pingree (ME-01-D) to discuss the importance of protecting the coast from offshore drilling this year. From left to right: Gabrielle Knight (Oceana Policy Intern), Lara Levison (Oceana Senior Director of Federal Policy), Lisa Pahel (Senior Policy Advisor to Rep. Pingree), Maine Senator Dawn Euer, Maine Representative Deane Rykerson, Maine Representative Lydia Blume, U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree, and Maine District Representative Rhiannon Hampson.

Business leaders, local officials and military interests meet with Rep. Buddy Carter (GA-01-R) urging him to support offshore drilling moratoria in the upcoming federal spending bill. From left to right: Paulita Bennett-Martine (Oceana  Campaign Organizer), Commissioner Phil Odom, Michael Messmer (Oceana Federal Policy Manager), Colonel (Ret) USAF Jim Heald, Lt. General (Ret) USAF Gordy Fornell, Sue Inman (Coastkeeper, Altamaha Riverkeeper), Jody Patterson (Director, Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, Patt Gunn (Founder and CEO, Underground Tours), Thomas Reynolds (Legislative Assistant to Rep. Carter), Cathy Sakas (Founder and Chair, Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Foundation), and U.S. Representative Buddy Carter. 

Business leaders, military interests and scientists speak with Rep. Donna Shalala (FL-27-D) about the importance of protecting the coast from offshore drilling this year. From left to right: Catherine Uden (Oceana, Campaign Organizer), Ross Boucek, PhD (Scientist, Bonefish and Tarpon Trust), Camila Quaresma-Sharp (Director of Business Development, Sharp Dentistry), Maj. General (Ret) USAF Robert Chedister, Scott Baste (Owner, Paddle the Florida Keys), and Ben Talus (Senior Policy Advisor to Rep. Shalala).

Business leaders and military interests speak with Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24-D) about the importance of protecting the coast from offshore drilling with moratoria provisions. From left to right: Shaun Tomson (6-time Surfing World Champion, Author, Keynote Speaker), Brady Bradshaw (Oceana Campaign Organizer), Captain USN (Ret) Lawrence Kramer, Rob Farrow (CEO, Aisle Planner), Johanna Montiel (Senior Policy Advisor to Rep. Carbajal), and U.S. Representative Salud Carbajal.

Some advocates from the team that met with North Carolina elected officials and urged action this year to stop the expansion of offshore drilling. From left to right: Randy Sturgill (Oceana Senior Organizer), Lt. General (Ret) USAF Gordy Fornell, Mayor Rett Newton (Mayor of Beaufort, NC) and Mayor Ben Cahoon (Mayor of Nags Head, NC).

Business leaders, organizers, military voices and elected officials meet with SenJeff Merkley (OR-D) and thank him for being a leader in the fight to prevent expanded offshore drilling. From left to right: Vipe Desai (Founder HDX Mix), Brady Bradshaw (Oceana Campaign Organizer), Oregon Senator Arnie Roblan, Diane Hoskins (Oceana Campaign Director),  Shaun Tomson (6-time Surfing World Champion, Author, Keynote Speaker), Rob Farrow (CEO, Aisle Planner), U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, Ben Schreiber (Sen. Merkley staff), and Captain USN (Ret) Lawrence Kramer.

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