Oceana and a coalition of groups filed suit in U.S. federal court and won a ruling stopping the government from granting permits allowing this dangerous and deadly practice and effectively stopping it from going forward in the Atlantic Ocean as planned. Seismic airguns create one of the loudest manmade sounds in the ocean to search for oil and gas beneath the seafloor, which can injure or kill marine animals from zooplankton to critically endangered North Atlantic right whales. Oceana, our allies, and thousands of coastal communities and businesses have campaigned against this dangerous practice for years. This long-fought legal battle challenged the issuance of Incidental Harassment Authorizations (IHAs), which are federal government-issued permits needed by seismic companies to harass and harm ocean animals while blasting the Atlantic Ocean.
Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina Protected from Offshore Drilling for 10 Years
U.S. President Trump withdrew the waters off Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina from offshore oil and gas leasing for 10 years. This was a reversal of President Trump’s previous plan to open nearly all U.S. waters to offshore drilling, threatening more than 2.6 million jobs and nearly $180 billion in GDP in pursuit of only two years'-worth of oil and just over one year's-worth of gas at 2018 consumption rates. This victory follows years of campaigning by Oceana, its advocacy partner Oceana Action, and its many allies. The campaign organized opposition from coastal communities, business owners, and elected officials from both political parties. Oceana continues to campaign for permanent federal-level protections of all U.S. waters from expanded drilling.
In the United States, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed a bill into law that protects Virginia’s beautiful and abundant ocean by prohibiting the exploration, development, and production of offshore oil and gas oil drilling in Virginia waters. The law also prohibits construction of any infrastructure to support drilling off Virginia’s coast, and prevents the state’s agencies from taking any action to facilitate oil and gas production. Offshore drilling threatens more than 86,000 jobs and $44.8 billion in GDP generated from fishing tourism and recreation along Virginia’s 3,300-mile coastline. This action follows grassroots organizing and campaigning by Oceana and our allies. Every East and West Coast governor has now called for offshore drilling protections. Oceana continues to campaign for permanent federal-level protections of all U.S. waters from expanded drilling.
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill to prohibit the exploration, development and production of offshore oil and gas in New York waters. The law also prohibits any infrastructure to support drilling off New York’s coast, and prevents the state’s agencies from taking regulatory actions to facilitate oil and gas production in federal waters.
Governor Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 256 (SB 256), which indefinitely extends Oregon’s moratorium on offshore oil drilling in state marine waters (0 to 3 miles from shore) and prohibits activities or new infrastructure that would support oil drilling in federal waters offshore Oregon (3 to 200 miles from shore).
Today, Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order 18-28 directing state agencies to protect Oregon’s coast from offshore oil and gas drilling. The Executive Order specifically made it the official policy of the state of Oregon to oppose oil drilling activities from shore to over 200 miles off the state, and to prevent the development of any new infrastructure that would serve offshore drilling operations.
The Obama administration made another historic move to decrease America’s dependence on dirty fossil fuels, this time protecting the Arctic Ocean from offshore drilling. In the newly released final five-year program for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) removed the Chukchi and Beaufort seas for leasing from 2017 to 2022. This announcement follows a similar decision in March where BOEM removed the Atlantic Ocean from the five-year program following widespread opposition along the East Coast.
The Obama administration made a historic move to protect the East Coast from offshore drilling. In the newly proposed five-year program for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management removed the Atlantic Ocean for leasing from 2017 to 2022. While Oceana applauded the Obama administration for listening to widespread opposition along the East Coast, it continues to urge the government to stop seismic airgun use in the Atlantic and not to hold new lease sales in the remote and unforgiving Arctic Ocean.
Following years of campaigning by Oceana and its allies, Shell Oil announced that it will cease further oil exploration in the U.S. Arctic Ocean for the foreseeable future. The move comes after a series of failed exploration attempts in the Arctic, costing the company billions of dollars. Shell’s efforts to operate in the remote and unforgiving Arctic in 2012 led to a series of mishaps, fines, government investigations and the grounding of the drill rig Kulluk. This year Shell faced new challenges and was unable to find oil in the prospect where the company drilled. Oceana’s campaigners successfully used law, economics, lobbying, science, and the press to clearly make the case that Shell’s plan was neither economically viable nor environmentally safe. Today’s decision is propelled by more than eight years of campaigning by Oceana and its allies whose work charted new ways to stop one of the largest and most powerful companies on the planet from putting the U.S. Arctic Ocean at risk. This is an enormous victory for the oceans, Oceana and the entire conservation community.
The United States Senate Committee on Finance cleared the way for a two-year extension of the investment tax credit (ITC) for offshore wind projects. Construction began before the end of 2015. The credit was allowed to expire on December 31, 2013.