On World Oceans Day, Scientists Call on President Trump and Congress to Halt Expanded Offshore Drilling
Scientists warn of chronic pollution, drilling disasters and fueling climate change.
Press Release Date: June 8, 2020
Today, on World Oceans Day, more than 100 scientists sent a letter to President Trump and Congress, urging our nation’s leaders to halt the expansion of offshore drilling and warning of the potential catastrophic impacts. These scientists join the growing bipartisan opposition to this plan, including every East and West Coast governor, alliances totaling more than 56,000 businesses and more than 380 coastal communities.
In 2018, President Trump announced plans to open nearly all U.S. federal waters to offshore drilling in his draft five-year program for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). In March, Dr. Walter Cruickshank, the acting director for Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, testified before Congress that the drilling plan is a “multi-year process that is still underway.” The White House also recently issued a proclamation on National Ocean Month, in which the president reaffirmed support for offshore oil drilling by touting an “enormous opportunity” to expand the industry.
The scientists warn expanded drilling threatens marine life and coastal economies. The letter calls for all coasts to be protected from another catastrophe like the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, which spewed more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
The scientists call attention to offshore oil drilling fueling climate change, which threatens all human health and livelihoods. The letter states, “If we continue on our current path, the expected increases in temperature, increases in extreme weather, and rising sea levels will wreak havoc on coastal communities. These catastrophic impacts will displace people and create geopolitical instability.”
Notable signatories include:
- Donald F. Boesch, president emeritus of University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science and served on the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling
- Andrew A. Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists and former Deputy Director of NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service
- Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, founder and CEO of Ocean Collectiv conservation consultancy
- Richard Wildermann, former Environmental Division, Minerals Management Service chief
Excerpt from the letter:
“As scientists, we write to you, united in our concern over the proposed expansion of offshore oil and gas drilling in U.S. waters. Offshore drilling represents a significant threat to marine life and coastal economies that rely on a vibrant ocean. Because our health and planet depend on a rapid transition to clean, renewable energy, we should not be investing in new fossil fuel extraction. On World Oceans Day, we call on you to protect our coasts and halt these efforts to expand offshore drilling.”
“The Gulf of Mexico already contains enough pipeline to encircle the Earth – over 26,000 miles – and with each new piece of oil infrastructure our communities and environment face additional threats. Further opening federal waters to offshore drilling poses an unacceptable risk of serious harm to marine life and coastal communities.”
“Respectfully, Mr. President, we urge you to protect our coasts from expanded offshore drilling in the next National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. We call on Congress to protect our coasts by passing legislation to immediately freeze the footprint of offshore drilling and to prevent further expansion of this dangerous industry.”
Oceana campaign director Diane Hoskins released the following statement in response to today’s letter:
“The fact that scientists are sounding the alarm on the threat of pollution, fueling climate change and catastrophic drilling disasters from offshore drilling should be a wake-up call. Opposition to President Trump’s offshore drilling plan is strong and growing. It’s time for President Trump to listen, instead of using World Oceans Month as an opportunity to double down on support for offshore drilling. These scientists highlight the immense risks that come with expanded drilling and are taking a stand against bringing these risks to new coastal communities.
The BP disaster caused unimaginable economic and environmental devastation. Instead of learning lessons from the BP disaster, President Trump is proposing to radically expand offshore drilling. It is not too late to reverse course. The president’s offshore drilling plan is still a preventable disaster.”
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-third of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 225 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit www.usa.oceana.org to learn more.