As someone who was raised on the southeast Atlantic coast I've always been able to count on the constancy of the boundless ocean that bordered our communities. But the familiar view of boats, birds and changing skies could be gone and replaced with oil rigs, heavy vessel traffic and a nagging uncertainty about the safety of our shoreline. The Obama administration has released a draft proposal for a five-year offshore oil and gas drilling plan that opens up the Atlantic coast to drilling for the first time in more than thirty years. The plan also proposes new leasing in the Arctic and Gulf regions as well.
NRDC's Executive Director, Peter Lehner, posted a recent blog highlighting this plan's serious consequences for coastal communities and the nation. He reminded us that this plan risks polluting the densely populated Atlantic coast and the pristine Arctic, while locking in new sources of carbon pollution, worsening climate impacts for generations.
Because the stakes are so high, it's time for communities to weigh in with the Administration and let them know that this is not what we want for our future. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is hosting public meetings along the Atlantic Coast, in Alaska and the Gulf region to provide information and hear from us all on what we want our shores to look like. In the Atlantic, meeting dates include: Washington, DC February 9th; Norfolk, Virginia February 11th; Wilmington, North Carolina Feb 17th, Jacksonville, Florida February 19th, Annapolis, Maryland March 9th and Charleston, South Carolina March 11th. BOEM says it wants to hear about the environmental impacts that should be addressed in the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement it is preparing on the proposed leasing program.
I will be at the Washington DC hearing to speak up for our coasts and oceans. I want the Administration to know that I don't want to gamble having the coast where I grew up or other valuable areas, damaged by a catastrophic oil spill like the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster. I want Atlantic coastal communities that rely on healthy fish populations and tourism to be able to sustain that quality of life without unnecessary risk. I want valuable Arctic ecosystems, communities and wildlife to be spared a spill that can't be cleaned up. I want a solution to climate change, not a plan to lock in decades of carbon pollution. If you want any of these things too then it's time to weigh in. If you can't be at one of these public meetings, you can make your voice heard by commenting online instead. Either way, the future of your ocean and coasts is on the table and you can make a difference in what comes next.