Our country is blessed with sandy beaches, rocky coves, towering sea cliffs and an astonishing variety of ocean wildlife along our shores. Yet there are challenges. The previous administration pushed for oil and gas drilling in 90 percent of our coastal waters. Species from the right whale in the Atlantic to the southern resident orca in the pacific are staring at extinction. And too little of our ocean is protected. We’re doing all we can to protect our oceans and the wildlife that lives in them.
From California’s Big Sur to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, our country is blessed with beautiful coasts and abundant ocean wildlife.
These are the beaches where families and friends come together, where kids experience what Walt Whitman called the “continual miracle” of the sea. These are the waters where dolphins and seals surf the waves, sea turtles patrol the reefs, and the last great whales migrate up and down our coasts. They remind us, as Rachel Carson did, that “in every curving beach, in every grain of sand, there is a story of the earth.”
In 1969, an oil platform blowout spilled tens of thousands of barrels of oil onto nearly 40 miles of coastline in Santa Barbara County, California.
In 1989, the Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound, spreading to 1,300 miles of coastline.
In 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded, releasing more than 200 million gallons of oil that washed up on beaches from Louisiana to Florida and spread far into the Gulf of Mexico.
Exploring for new oil and gas deposits can also damage ocean wildlife. For example, whales and dolphins depend on their hearing to navigate and communicate, and “seismic testing” subjects these animals to loud booms every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day, for days or even weeks at a stretch.
In an age of remarkable advances in energy conservation and renewable energy technologies, at a time when global warming poses an existential threat to future generations, sacrificing our beaches and ocean wildlife is no longer, if it ever was, the price we must pay for progress. That’s not a world we have to live in anymore. Nor is it the future our children deserve.
That’s why, after the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, we urged President Obama to ban all new offshore drilling off America’s coast. In 2016, he did and we applauded him.
That’s why we opposed a plan by President Trump to allow drilling in nearly all of America’s coastal waters—even in areas where oil companies have expressed zero interest.
And it’s why we’re working now to stop new leases and drilling in coastal waters, as well as to phase out existing drilling operations. Additionally, we’re working to set aside more of our oceans from all destructive activities, essentially creating ‘wildlife refuges’ in the deep blue.
How can we keep more oil spills from spoiling our beaches and harming marine wildlife?
RIGHT NOW: We’re calling on Congress and the Biden administration to protect our coastal waters and the marine life within them by ending offshore drilling. And we’re building support for marine protected areas, places free of destructive activity where marine life can regain a foothold on survival.
IN THE LONG RUN: Ultimately, we need to win enough hearts and minds over to our point of view so that that we need to protect the natural world around us. That’s one more reason why our work to raise awareness and get people involved matters so much right now.
We know we can make a difference on this issue.
Over the past 30 years, our national network has been a leader in saving our shores and coasts from oil drilling. In 1981, our Florida affiliate launched a Save Our Shores campaign to halt the leasing of 93 million acres of water near the Gulf Coast and Florida Keys for oil and gas development. In 1990, we celebrated when President George H.W. Bush announced a 10-year ban on new leasing and drilling off the Everglades and Florida Keys, and later, a permanent ban on drilling in Florida’s state waters.
After the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, we urged state leaders and citizens across the country to call on President Obama to declare the nation’s coastal waters off-limits to drilling, and celebrated again when he delivered in 2016.
Protecting our coasts will require us to act where and when it matters most. We have staff in Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, California, Oregon and Washington state, and members in every coastal state.