KEEPING AN EYE ON OUR WATERS

Time to Take a Stand on Offshore Drilling

By: Feletia Lee, Environmental Coordinator
Blockade Runner Beach Resort

For everyone who enjoys a vacation at the coast, now is the time to sit up and take notice that things at your favorite beach are about to change. Our current Federal Administration has announced plans to open nearly all U.S. waters to offshore drilling, and the general public has only 60 days to weigh in on how they feel. Nationwide, top officials in every coastal state have voiced serious concerns. Now is the time to study the facts, and lend your voice to a decision that will likely affect our shores for generations to come.

Vox populi.

It is a Latin phrase meaning “voice of the people.” In the United States, a nation governed by the people, citizens have the ability to speak up and offer their opinions on legislative issues that affect them. The hope is that the men and women elected by the people to represent them in government would heed these comments, and in doing so, cast their votes in favor of the prevailing opinion.

Public comment – a way to be heard by our government when their plans or proposals threaten our livelihood.

Our current administration has announced plans to open nearly all U.S. federal waters to offshore drilling activities. The 2019 – 2024 National OCS Program proposes opening more than 98% of the Outer Continental Shelf for consideration of future exploration and development in oil and gas leasing. Our current plan allows for exploration and development of around 6% of the Outer Continental Shelf for exploration and development. This dramatic increase is a cornerstone of President Trump’s America-First Offshore Energy Strategy. It would open 19 leases of the coast of Alaska, 12 in the Gulf of Mexico, 7 in the Pacific, and 9 in the Atlantic region. This is the largest lease proposal ever for the National OCS Program’s lease schedule.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has plans to “unleash America’s offshore oil and gas potential (www.doi.gov),” but what he is unleashing is a great threat to our oceans and the coastal communities who rely on clean and healthy waters for their economic success and survival.

Offshore drilling is a dirty and dangerous business. The Department of Energy had estimated that 1.3 million gallons of petroleum products are spilled in U.S. waters from vessels and pipelines in a typical year. A typical year doesn’t include a major spill, though. In 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon leaked an estimated 130 million gallons into the Gulf of Mexico!

It is not a question of “if an oil spill happens,” but rather a statement – “when an oil spill happens.”

For thriving coastal economies, economies that contribute 1.4 million American jobs and over $18 billion in GDP (oceaneconomics.org),  the threat of expanded oil and gas exploration and leasing is a legitimate one. Eleven governors, more than 150 coastal municipalities, fishery management councils, and even the Department of Defense have expressed opposition and concern over offshore drilling activities and the potentially disastrous effects associated with oil and gas exploration. Governor of North Carolina Roy Cooper, has called drilling a “critical threat” to the tourism and fishing industries of North Carolina.

Governor Rick Scott of Florida speaking with the New York Times said, “I have asked to immediately meet with Secretary Zinke to discuss the concerns I have with this plan and the crucial need to remove Florida from consideration,” he said in a statement. “My top priority is to ensure that Florida’s natural resources are protected.” Zinke’s response included that drilling for oil represents “a new path for energy dominance in America, “but said he planned to speak with Governor Scott and other state leaders before the proposal was finalized. “it’s not going to be done overnight,” he said. (nytimes.com)

We at the Blockade Runner Beach Resort strongly urge you to join us in the fight to protect our ocean and beaches. Our health and success are built upon the health and success of a healthy marine ecosystem. Our economy and our environment are intimately linked. What affects one, affects the other. As stewards of this beautiful barrier island, we have worked tirelessly through the years fighting to conserve and sustain the amazing bounty we have been charged with.

These plans are not set in stone just yet. We can make our voices heard. Beginning January 8, 2018, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will take public comments on the OCS plan for sixty days.

Vox Populi.

Send a direct message to BOEM expressing your concerns:
www.regulations.gov

Find a public meeting near you:
National OCS Program Public Meeting Locations

NORTH CAROLINIANS
Contact our federal legislators to encourage them to fight for our interests:
North Carolina Senators Tom Tillis and Richard Burr
North Carolina House Representatives