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April 9, 2010

Spills Happen!

…And more often than people think. Just days after the President offered up more of our coasts to the oil industry, an oil pipeline operated by Chevron Pipe Line Co leaked at least 18,000 gallons of crude oil into the Delta National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana.
This is another example of how dangerous exposure to an oil spill can potentially be to coastal wildlife and habitat, in a national wildlife refuge no less. Spills happen at every stage of oil production. Whether it is from drilling, pipelines, tankers, or refineries; a spill can occur at every stage of the oil production process. Then when we burn the oil, it contributes to climate change.

Big Oil would have us believe that spills are a thing of the past thanks to modern technology. Unfortunately, the facts play out otherwise. Oil spills are not rare occurrence. Almost one million gallons of oil enter the oceans of North America every year through extraction activities alone.

Transportation and spills, as we saw this week, add to that figure. Oil is particularly damaging to marine mammals, seabirds, and sea turtles which can become coated in and ingest oil; leading to organ failure, genetic mutation, immune system failure, anemia, brain lesions, cancer, starvation and death.
Offshore drilling not only threatens valuable coastal and marine habitats, it also threatens coastal tourism and commercial and recreational fishing, both of which are multi-billion dollar industries valuable to our nation’s economy.

If Big Oil can gain access to some of the most abundant coasts and oceans as well as some of the most beautiful and oft-visited beaches in America, what is to stop an oil spill from endangering the Jersey Shore, Cape Cod, Chesapeake Bay, Long Island Sound, Florida’s beaches, Georgia’s Sea Islands or the Outer Banks? The list goes on.

Last week, President Obama forged ahead with a policy for expanding offshore oil drilling off of our coasts.

Please remind him why such a policy is the wrong choice for a clean energy future, energy security and our coasts and oceans.

Matt Niemerski is an Ocean Advocate at Oceana.