Issue: The Department of the Interior (DOI) announced on June 29 that they have begun developing a new 5-year plan for offshore oil and gas development that is likely to include areas offshore South Carolina. You can read the announcement here.
Action: This is the first of several opportunities for the general public to comment to DOI on the government’s plans to once again consider offshore drilling along the East Coast. It is important to get the Atlantic areas removed as early as possible in the planning process. During previous administrations, opposition from local communities was a major factor in the government’s decision to exclude the Atlantic from the 5-year offshore program.
Comments will be accepted until August 17, 2017, in either of the following ways:
Electronically (preferred method): Click here and look for link to “Documents Open for Comment”. Then open the “Open Comment Document” link and follow instructions to view relevant documents and submit comments.
In written form, deliver to: Ms. Kelly Hammerle, National Program Manager, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management; 45600 Woodland Road-VAM-LD; Sterling, Virginia 20166.
The risks to our environment and economy from offshore drilling are unacceptable. If a large oil spill occurs, such as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the damage to the natural environment would be devastating.
Over the past 45 years, an average of 60 spills have occurred a year from offshore operations, mostly in the Gulf of Mexico. Most spills are small, but multiple spills over time cause chronic environmental damage.
Scientific studies have shown that the relentless, round-the-clock airgun blasts from seismic surveys that would precede drilling can cause severe harm to marine life.
The risks to our regional economy, especially fishing, recreation, and tourism, due to routine operations and accidents from offshore drilling are unacceptable.
The claim that we need to produce oil in the Atlantic to become energy independent is without merit because the U.S. exports almost a million barrels of oil a day.
Energy security, not energy independence, should be our goal. That requires access to multiple energy sources that are reliable, economically stable, safe, and environmentally sustainable. We cannot achieve energy security if we continue our reliance on, and rapid exploitation of, fossil fuels. The path to energy security is through conservation, innovation, and diversification, including increasing development of renewable energy sources.
Secretary Zinke said he would make sure the Interior Department’s offshore oil and gas policies are appropriate for local communities and that areas would not be included in the offshore program if adjacent coastal communities are not supportive. Last year every coastal community in South Carolina spoke out against offshore drilling. Secretary Zinke should honor his promise to heed the wishes of affected communities and exclude our coastal waters from the offshore drilling program.
On May 1st, Secretary of the Interior Zinke directed the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to “Immediately initiate development of a new Five-Year Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, with full consideration given to leasing the OCS offshore Alaska, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico…”
You can read the Secretarial Order here.
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