Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sierra Club statement on oil drilling & seismic blasting off the Atlantic Coast

Statement delivered on February 19, 2015 at Bureau of Ocean Energy Management hearing in Jacksonville, Florida

     The Sierra Club is strongly opposed to the commencement of oil drilling off the U.S. East Coast. While the latest proposal of the Administration excludes Florida from oil drilling, oil spills off the adjoining coasts, especially off the Georgia coast, would have devastating effects on the environment and economy of Florida.
     The 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster very dramatically demonstrated how drilling can destroy tourism and fishing industries and cost jobs. This disaster, America’s worst oil spill, killed eleven people and gushed 210 million gallons of oil into the ocean, affecting 16,000 miles of coastline.
     Today, at least 14 species, including bird, fish and dolphins are still struggling to survive and the once thriving tourism, fishing and recreation economies of the Gulf still have not fully recovered. Additionally, the endangered Northern Right Whale regularly moves between northeastern coastal waters to the east coast of Florida for calving, and this species would also be seriously threatened by an oil spill.
     The Sierra Club notes that, since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Congress has yet to pass a single law which strengthens federal oversight of offshore oil and gas development, drilling safety or environmental safeguards in the event of a disaster. Further, current cleanup methods are still not capable of removing more than a small fraction of oil spilled in coastal waters. Each year routine U.S. drilling operations send an average of 880,000 gallons of oil into the ocean.
     The Sierra Club continues to oppose seismic blasting for the reasons expressed in our testimony at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management public hearing in Jacksonville on April 12, 2012, when we testified that there was overwhelming evidence that seismic blasting with the use of airguns causes death and severe injury to marine mammals such as whales and dolphins, and displaces and depresses the catch rates of various species of fish.
     In order to preserve the environment, economy and quality of life for Floridians we request that any and all authorizations for oil drilling and seismic blasting off the East Coast be denied and negated.
This statement was delivered 2/19/15 by the Sierra Club to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management at its "Open House Scoping Meeting for the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program" in Jacksonville, Florida.

Representatives of the Sierra Club, Oceana and the Surfriders Foundation assembled on the riverbank next to the meeting place and spoke with news reporters, and also met and talked extensively with BOEM representatives at their information stations in the meeting room. There was no opportunity for a customary open public hearing, but computers for Internet access were provided for written comments.

We urge interested people to provide comments still to BOEM via its information website at www.BOEMOceanInfo.com; a direct route to the comment portal is at this link.