Top reasons why you should care

POTUS wants to open up the Arctic and both Atlantic and Pacific coasts to oil & gas exploration and drilling.  The potential damage to our marine habitats, shorelines, and coastal communities is incalculable.  Below are the most pertinent issues to mention in your comment to Secretary Zinke.

1. After Deep Water, the worst offshore oil spill in American history in 2010, Congress couldn’t come to a consensus on safety standards & the Department of the Interior has had ongoing problems with oversight.

On April 20, 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded causing the worst offshore drilling catastrophe in US history. 11 workers died and 134 million gallons of toxic crude oil was released into the Gulf of Mexico, 50 miles from the Louisiana shore.

After Deepwater, Congress could not come to an consensus on safety standards. The Obama administration did take some steps, but some environmentalists say this wasn’t enough.

Bob Be a, a risk management expert & former Shell executive told Polifact, “Yes, new government ‘guidelines’ have been issued, but either they haven’t been implemented or they have not been implemented properly.”  

And, the Government Accountability Office reported in March 2017, that the Interior Department has wrestled with improving offshore oversight. 

A spill in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska, Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico could “threaten multi-billion dollar regional economies that depend on clean oceans and coastlines”, says Bob Graham & William K. Reilly, co-chairmen of the bipartisan National Commission of the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill who investigated the causes of the disaster.  

2. Low oil prices and increasing onshore production have pushed demand for offshore leases to a record low.

“The oil industry hasn’t shown much interest in expanding drilling due to low oil prices,” said Athan Manual, who directs the Sierra Club’s Lands Protection Management Program.

“Why on earth would someone choose to push drilling in the riskiest and expensive places on the planet when the current oil glut will make such ventures unprofitable for the foreseeable future?” said, David Jenkins, president of Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship, a non-profit conservation group. 

3. The Arctic Ocean is home to a diverse group of birds & mammals and the area is already environmentally fragile due to global warming and loss of sea ice.

“…there is currently no adequate response capacity for an Arctic oil spill, and history shows that wherever we drill, we spill. In addition to environmental catastrophes like Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon, small but destructive oil spills regularly occur wherever drilling takes place. Considering this region is already experiencing significant changes like dramatic reductions in sea ice and increased temperatures, it is deeply irresponsible to subject this fragile ecosystem to further stress.” says the Audubon Alaska website.

4. An oil spill in the Atlantic Ocean endangers coastal communities and the economy; citizens don’t want drilling off their coasts.

In a recent New Jersey congressional delegation letter, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) U.S. Sen. Cory Booker and Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (N.J.-06), Albio Sires (N.J.-08), Donald Norcross (N.J.-01), Bonnie Watson-Coleman (N.J.-12) and Bill Pascrell, Jr. (N.J.-09). urged the Trump Administration to reconsider opening offshore drilling in the Atlantic. 

“The reopening of this process not only endangers New Jersey’s coastal economy, but also ignores the will of the local communities that would be most impacted by oil drilling—including over 120 municipalities, 1,200 elected officials, 41,000 businesses, and 500,000 fishing families from up and down the Atlantic coast who have all voiced their opposition to oil and gas activities,”  says the letter.

The lawmakers argue that an oil spill like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico or the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in the Arctic Ocean “would put into jeopardy New Jersey’s nearly $800 billion in coastal properties and a tourism industry that generates $44 billion a year and directly supports almost half a million direct and indirect jobs, or nearly ten percent of the state’s entire workforce.”

As well as “threaten New Jersey’s vibrant commercial fishing industry, which generates over $7.9 billion annually and supports over 50,000 jobs, along with one of the largest saltwater recreational fishing industries in the nation.”

Hurry, the BOEM must receive all comments and information by August 17, 2017.