Today, 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.
In response to the newly proposed plan, Jacqueline Savitz, Oceana’s vice president for the U.S., released the following statement:
“President Obama has taken a giant step for our oceans, for coastal economies and for mitigating climate change. This is a courageous decision that begins the shift to a new energy paradigm, where clean energy replaces fossil fuels, and where we can avoid the worst impacts of decades of our carbon dioxide emissions.
This is a victory for people over politics and shows the importance of old fashioned grassroots organizing. It will prevent oil spills and coastal industrialization; it makes seismic testing unnecessary and it will help promote the clean energy solutions that we so desperately need.
With this decision coastal communities have won a ‘David vs. Goliath’ fight against the richest companies on the planet, and that is a cause for tremendous optimism for the well-being of future generations.
On behalf of Oceana and all those that are opposed to offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, we thank you, President Obama, for seeing that offshore drilling along the East Coast is an unnecessary risk to nearly 1.4 million jobs and over $95 billion in gross domestic product. This includes fishery and tourism economies that rely on healthy oceans.
Our nation has seen the devastation that comes from offshore drilling, and the benefits are simply not worth the risks. Over the last two years, Oceana has built and led a powerful grassroots movement to demonstrate the broad-based and diverse opposition to this dirty and dangerous activity. President Obama is listening to the voices of coastal citizens from 110 East Coast municipalities, as well as more than 100 Members of Congress, 700 state and local elected officials and 1,100 business interests that have all publically opposed offshore drilling and seismic airgun use.
With offshore drilling off the table in the Atlantic, there is absolutely no reason to risk the damage that would be caused by seismic airguns in that area. We urge the President to go further and to stop seismic airgun use, an extremely loud and dangerous process used to search for oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean floor. Seismic airgun permits are still being pursued in an area of the Atlantic that is twice the size of California, stretching from Delaware to Florida. With no drilling plans in sight, there is absolutely no reason to put more than 100,000 marine mammals in harm’s way, in fact doing so would be appallingly irresponsible. The noise from seismic airgun blasting is so loud that it can be heard up to 2,500 miles from the source, which is akin to the distance between Washington, D.C. and Las Vegas.
Oceana also continues to urge the Obama administration to stop new lease sales from taking place in the remote and unforgiving Arctic Ocean. Offering new leases in the Arctic Ocean is bad fiscal and environmental policy, and future lease sales would be inconsistent with the commitments to which President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau made in their historic agreement just last week.
The push for offshore drilling in the Arctic puts unique and diverse ecosystems at risk. It has led to controversy, litigation, government investigations and, in 2012, near disaster. There is no good reason to continue down that path by selling even more leases in the Arctic Ocean. Companies are not ready to operate safely, have not explored the leases they already own, and many have walked away from leases they bought over the last decade. We need a fresh start based on science and precaution when it comes to the Arctic, not more business as usual.
Whether or not another oil company ever comes to the U.S. Arctic, it is still valuable to know where the important places in the ocean are. Identifying and protecting important ecological areas is a necessary step toward ensuring the long-term health of the ocean. We are encouraged that the government is continuing its progress toward science-based planning in the Arctic and urge President Obama to expand this approach and remove the Chukchi and Beaufort seas from the final five-year program.”