[Update: Public meetings postponed due to the federal government shutdown have been rescheduled. The New England dates are as follows: Feb. 13 – Hartford, CT; Feb. 27 – Boston, MA; Feb. 28 – Providence, RI; March 5 – Concord, NH; March 7 – Augusta, ME. Sign up to attend a meeting near you here. There are also coordinated opposition events concurrent with some of the public meetings. Check out these Facebook events for more details.]
It’s hard to overstate how disastrous it would be for New England’s ocean, marine wildlife, and coastal communities if the Trump administration moves forward with its extreme new five-year plan to open up nearly 90 percent of U.S. continental shelf waters to oil and gas drilling.
From start to finish – preliminary seismic testing, drilling, oil spills, chemicals used in cleanup, and transport – the marine oil and gas exploration and drilling process is harmful and unnecessary. The risks it presents are simply too great.
Luckily, we have an opportunity to fight back: the administration is collecting public feedback on the five-year plan at a series of open-house style meetings and through an online portal.
While the public meetings scheduled for the week of Jan. 22-25 have been postponed due to the federal government shutdown, we encourage you to submit feedback online here.
Fighting for Our Ocean
New England’s ocean is already facing threats from climate change and ocean acidification. The Gulf of Maine is warming at a rate faster than almost any other ocean area in the world. Opening up our waters to oil and gas drilling and the risk of catastrophic oil spills just exacerbates these challenges.
What’s more, New England is home to one of the most endangered species in the world, the North Atlantic right whale. Seismic testing used to explore for oil can be incredibly harmful to these whales, contributing to hearing loss that can result in confusion and a hampered ability to find food and mate.
The risks of oil spills and increased carbon pollution would make it even more difficult for these whales to survive and rebuild. The last thing we need is another man-made threat to this struggling species – in fact, we must do whatever we can to save them.
Moving Beyond Fossil Fuels
We need to move boldly forward into a renewable energy future, powered by wind, tides, and the sun. We’ve already demonstrated renewable energy leadership here in New England, where the nation’s first offshore wind farm is now turning off the shores of Rhode Island. And we are moving forward a major offshore wind project in Massachusetts, which will power a quarter million homes and businesses once constructed.
Instead of joining us in the fight against climate change, this drilling plan makes it clear the Trump administration prefers to keep us stuck in the past. Increasing temperatures, stronger and more erratic storms, more intense and frequent flooding, and acidification are impacting our environment and our communities. We are making progress in fighting these impacts here in our region – but this progress could be decimated by a catastrophe like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill.
Fighting for Our Future
CLF has a long history of fighting oil and gas drilling in New England’s ocean. In 1978, we partnered with fishermen and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to block oil exploration on Georges Bank – winning the first successful injunction against offshore drilling in the United States. In the years that followed, exploratory drilling was allowed in some areas, but these efforts turned up nothing and were ultimately unsuccessful.
At the tail end of his administration, President Obama called for a permanent ban on offshore drilling in the Arctic and along the Atlantic Seaboard. Trump’s plan seeks to reverse this leadership, instead opting to put nearly all of our coastal waters on the table.
This backwards step threatens our New England way of life. From fishing, surfing, whale watching, beach combing – and the millions of tourist dollars that go along with them – so much of our economy and the success of our coastal communities depends on a healthy ocean, clean beaches, and abundant marine wildlife. We don’t need to gamble with all of this by drilling for oil.
The Trump administration has shown time and again that it’s willing to exploit our most treasured places and natural resources for short-term economic and political gain. But the ocean belongs to all of us, not just a few oil and gas executives. That’s why we won’t give up this fight.