The Trump Administration asked for feedback on its proposal to expand offshore drilling along almost every mile of our coastline, and today is the last day for the public to weigh in.
This plan represents the most extreme fossil fuel assault on our nation’s public oceans—ever.
President Trump and Secretary Zinke would expose virtually every mile of America’s coastline—from Maine to Florida, from Alaska to California—to the risks of an oil spill. Our air will be polluted. Ocean health and coastal economies will suffer. Climate change will get worse, driving sea level rise, extreme weather, and increased asthma attacks for our children.
All because the oil industry wants more.
Even though the world is clamoring for clean energy. Even though the U.S. exports more oil—and pollution—than ever before. Even though the industry has already stockpiled decades worth of leases it is not tapping.
As Director of Federal Affairs for the Natural Resources Defense Council, I represent over 3 million members and activists. I remind myself every day, because those three million people are trusting me and my colleagues to represent their hope for a cleaner, safer, healthier future for all Americans.
I’m also a New Hampshire resident and the father of six-year old twins. I wake up every day motivated to grant them a future of abundance, not one defined by whatever is left over after the excesses of a privileged few.
I am concerned for the future. Fortunately, I am not alone.
Americans-from both sides of the aisle—from coastal states and inland states—are rising up to protect these ocean waters we all own. And there is good reason.
The oil and gas industry wants to sink its claws into our coastal areas and add to its investment portfolios. When they lock it up now, they lock the rest of us out.
Worse, the damage to our oceans, and all that relies on them, begins even before the first drill bit sinks into the ocean floor. Just looking for oil and deposits causes serious harm. Seismic exploration deploys deafening blasts so loud they can injure marine mammals’ hearing, and disrupt their breeding and feeding for miles.
Once drilling begins, a whole separate set of harms and hazards are inevitable, putting ocean health, coastal economies, and our environment at risk. Wherever we drill, we spill. Whether it’s a catastrophic Deepwater Horizon-scale disaster that costs lives and spreads oil for hundreds of miles, or pollution or a “minor” leak the oil industry considers part of daily operations, that coats our beaches, discharges toxic slurry, and disrupts local economies.
But we should remember this isn’t the first time an administration has tried to turn public lands and waters over to the fossil fuel industry, even the previous administration included the Atlantic Coast and the Artic in its first offshore proposal.
A wave of public opposition cautioned: “Listen to the science. Listen to the public. Look at the numbers.”
And when it did, the Administration issued our existing offshore plan which excluded these areas. Not just that, it permanently protected some of our most vulnerable, precious, oil-free ocean waters.
We need to build on that strong foundation, not trash it at the behest of global oil companies.
Now that the Trump Administration is moving in the opposite direction, what can be done?
We can build on the overwhelming record of opposition. And use that momentum. Because this fight is not over.
The Administration will next put forward a “final proposed 5-year plan,” where it is expected to respond to the input it has received.
So, let’s remind our elected officials and this Administration what the public wants:
- More than 1.35 million public comments oppose offshore drilling.
- Legislators from both parties are rejecting expanded offshore drilling via a host of letters, legislation, and public statements from more than 150 Members of the House and 40 Senators.
- Overwhelming official opposition from coastal state Governors.
- Public interest group letters, ads, and videos demonstrating solidarity in the call to protect our coasts.
- Over 200 community and municipal resolutions against drilling and seismic testing, with more coming seemingly by the day.
- Letters from faith leaders representing multiple denominations calling on the Administration to protect God’s creation, not sell it off.
- Opposition from the Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic, Environmental Entrepreneurs, and Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Association, representing more than 35,000 business, 500,000 fishing families, and clean energy business owners and investors.
- Hundreds of editorials and opinion pieces from around the country expressing support for protecting coastal economies, ecosystems, wildlife, and our climate, including from representatives of the Bipartisan Oil Spill Commission.
It’s time to reject propaganda that poses a false choice between protecting our coasts and “energy.” We must recognize that we live in an era of energy abundance. Clean energy is here to stay. It’s in our driveways, on our roofs and powering our cities with no end in sight.
We can power the future with clean energy that creates jobs and cuts pollution.
Will all this convince President Trump our oceans aren’t his private playground? I don’t know.
But our wall of resistance is what will keep drill rigs off our coasts and keep our oceans thriving for this and future generations.