Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling in the Southeast Atlantic : What You Can Do – State by State. A Scuttlefish Feature. Part II.

by Carolyn Sotka

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 Residents of North Carolina’s Outer Banks gather in Kill Devil Hills to protest oil and gas activities off their coast. Photo courtesy of Randy Sturgill, Oceana. 

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the the largest petroleum spill in the history of the industry and the worst environmental disaster in United States history – the BP/Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

It has been 1825 days since the blowout and the longterm impacts on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystems and coastal economies continues to unfold. Still, deep sea drilling and surveying continues to expand along U.S. waters, and in early January the Obama Administration offered up a new swath of the nation’s coastline for oil and gas activities: the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. Part I of this series is a Scuttlefish feture that dives into what you need to know about the who, what, why, when and where of oil and gas exploration and drilling in the the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast.

Here, in Part II of this series, TheScuttlefish asked Oceana to help bring you the ‘Top Ten’ actions you can take to protect your coast at both national and state levels now.

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Public meeting on oil and gas activities in South Carolina on Pawley’s Island. As of April 16th, Oceana has helped over 50 coastal towns in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and New Jersey pass city ordinances and resolutions against oil exploration off their shores. On April 14, 2015, Oceana delivered more than 420,000 signatures to the director of the Bureau of Energy Managment in opposition to any oil and gas activities. Photography courtesy of Samantha Siegel.

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 With the ‘top ten’ actions below, you can help avoid a disaster similar to the Deepwater Horizon blowout in your state. Photo by Daniel Beltra/Greenpeace.


Oceana’s Top Ten Actions.
(For how-to’s and helpful resources, click the links below).

1. Join Oceana at stopthedrill.org, the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League or another NGO with similar campaigns such as the Natural Resources Defense Council or Ocean Conservancy. Take action with a grassroots team.

2. Host watch parties of “Drill, Spill, Repeat” and “The Great Invisible” to help further educate citizens that might be impacted by oil and gas activities.

3. Encourage your local representatives to pass a resolution opposing offshore exploration and development in your town or city.

4. Write to your members of Congress and call your mayor, governors, town council members and city commissioners.

5. Write letters to the editor and op-eds to your local paper.

6. Sign Oceana’s petition to BOEM opposing seismic blasting by April 29.

7. Work with local groups to organize demonstrations against your governor’s position if pro-offshore drilling and seismic blasting.

8. Review and use Oceana’s “Coastal Resolution Toolkit“.

9. Learn more about what’s at stake in Oceana’s latest report, “Atlantic Energy: Offshore Energy by the Numbers”.

10. Refer to the state by state guides provided by Oceana below.


 

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The beautiful and unique coast of the southeast Atlantic has too much to lose if oil and activities move forward in the region. Photo courtesy of Adam Chandler Photography.

South Carolina.

  • What’s at stake: South Carolina’s white sandy beaches and coastal towns are crucial for the state’s economy, recreation and culture. South Carolina’s coastline alone also boasts over 165 linear miles of beaches and more than 40 barrier and sea islands.
  • Existing marine resources: Fishing, tourism and recreation support roughly 79,000 jobs and generate about $4.4 billion in GDP in South Carolina. Seismic blasting has the potential to cause significant adverse long-term and cumulative effects to South Carolina’s marine environment. Seismic airguns may impact fisheries, marine habitats, and threatened and endangered species like the loggerhead turtles and North Atlantic right whales among others.
  • Potential offshore oil and gas reserves: At current consumption rates, South Carolina’s endowment of economically recoverable offshore oil and gas would only meet domestic demand for both oil and gas for 6 days, less than a week.
  • Offshore wind potential: A modest and gradual development of offshore wind would create about 34,000 jobs for South Carolinians, about 21,000 more jobs than would be created by offshore oil and gas drilling over the project lifetime.
  • State opposition: 10 – 12 cities have passed resolutions opposing seismic blasting; the mayors of Charleston and Hilton Head have sent letters to BOEM opposing offshore oil exploration and development; the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce passed a resolution opposing offshore drilling and seismic blasting.

 Georgia.

  • What’s at stake: Georgia has a beautiful coast, spanning over 100 miles, which supports whale and dolphin watching, numerous resorts and thriving recreational and commercial fishing industries. Georgia’s coastal destinations like Savannah, Brunswick, and Sea Island attract thousands of visitors and tourists every year.
  • Existing marine resources: Fishing, tourism, and recreation support roughly 21,000 jobs and generate over $1.1 billion in GDP in Georgia.
  • Potential offshore oil and gas reserves: At current consumption rates, Georgia’s endowment of economically recoverable offshore oil and gas would only meet domestic demand for both oil and gas for one day.
  • Offshore wind potential: A modest and gradual development of offshore wind would create about 17,000 jobs, nearly 9 times as many jobs than offshore drilling, for Georgians.
  • State opposition: Tybee Island and St. Marys have passed resolutions opposing seismic blasting.

North Carolina.

  • What’s at stake: The Outer Banks, a long, narrow strip of barrier islands covering much of North Carolina’s coast, and their pristine beaches, popular national parks, monuments, and productive recreational fishing sites.
  • Existing marine resources: Fishing, tourism and roughly 51,000 jobs that generate nearly $2.2 billion in GDP in North Carolina.
  • Potential offshore oil and gas reserves: At current consumption rates, North Carolina’s endowment of economically recoverable offshore oil and gas would only meet domestic demand for oil for 38 days and gas for 98 days. In other words, not much is out there.
  • Offshore wind potential: A modest and gradual development of offshore wind would create over 48,000 jobs for North Carolinians, or about twice as many jobs would be created by offshore wind than offshore drilling. North Carolina has the greatest offshore wind energy potential along the Atlantic coast of the U.S.
  • State opposition: 13 cities passed resolutions expressing concern or opposing offshore exploration and/or development; the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce passed a resolution opposing offshore drilling and exploration; the Dare County Tourism Board passed two resolutions opposing offshore drilling and seismic blasting; State Representative Pricey Harrison and 21members of the General Assembly sent a letter to BOEM opposing seismic blasting.

Virginia.

  • What’s at stake: Virginia has over 3,000 miles of coastline and is home to thousands who make their living from coastal resources. The Hampton Roads region, including Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Newport News, attracts millions of tourists and contributes billions of dollars annually.
  • Existing marine resources: Fishing, tourism and recreation support over 91,000 jobs and generate about $5 billion in GDP in Virginia.
  • Potential offshore oil and gas reserves: At current consumption rates, Virginia’s endowment of economically recoverable offshore oil and gas would only meet domestic demand for oil for 18 days and gas for 46 days.
  • Offshore wind potential: A modest and gradual development of offshore wind would create over 15,000 jobs for Virginians, or 1.5 as many jobs created by offshore oil and gas drilling.
  • State opposition: Congressmen Robert Scott (VA-11), Jim Moran (VA-3), and Gerald Connolly (VA-8) along with 50 other colleagues sent a letter to BOEM opposing offshore oil exploration and development.

Check out Part I of this Scuttlefish feature to help you better navigate the tricky waters of oil and gas activities in the southeast.

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