The Beacon

Blog Tags: Oil Pollution

4 Key Reasons to Oppose Offshore Drilling

This week, Oceana's corporate partner Nautica invited us to Key West Race Week to spread the word and gather support for our opposition to Congressional efforts to open up Florida’s coasts to offshore drilling.

In the American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009, there’s a proposal that would open up currently protected areas in the eastern Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling.

Why is this proposal such a big deal? I’ll give you a few reasons…

1. Currents: the Florida and Loop currents in the Gulf spread vital nutrients to marine life off Florida’s west coast, so if the currents are exposed to oil, it could expose Florida’s beaches and marine habitats to oil contamination.

2. Habitats: Florida’s mangroves and corals provide habitat for over 40 bird species, over 500 fish species, sea turtles, dolphins, manatees, sharks and commercially-important shellfish like spiny lobsters, oysters, clams and shrimp. These habitats are particularly vulnerable to oil.


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Picturing Oil Pollution

I appreciate a well-placed advertisement, and not just because I work on Oceana’s Marketing and Communications team. Many times I have hopped off the DC Metro at the Farragut West station to have one of the art museum displays catch my eye.

Last week I was stopped in my tracks by an advertisement for the Corcoran Gallery of Art. The creative was highlighting two current exhibits at the museum, Sargent and the Sea and Edward Burtynsky: Oil. A large thumbnail of the John Singer Sargent painting, En Route pour la pêche, is what caught my eye. The painting shows a family walking along a beautiful beach. Right next to it was a Burtynsky photograph of an oil refinery.  

The Corcoran’s website describes Burtynsky’s exhibition as revealing “the effects of oil on our lives, depicting landscapes altered by its extraction from the earth and by the cities and suburban sprawl generated around its use.” He also set out to comment on the approaching end of the oil supply.

The juxtaposition of the two images could be a coincidence, but I hope it gives others pause -- and makes them consider the impacts of offshore drilling and oil pollution on our oceans. And if they need a clearer picture, all they have to do is glance across to the other platform to see our new ad:

Oceana ran this ad, and several others like it, so that museums don't become the only place to see the beauty the oceans have to offer. The expansion of oil drilling on our coasts, especially in Florida, threatens the oceans and all the life within them.

I like museums, but I prefer the real thing.


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Arctic Protections Finalized

In a definitive victory for the Arctic, the government released final regulations protecting almost 200,000 square miles of U.S. Arctic waters from industrial fishing.

The new regulations, which close all U.S. waters north of Alaska’s Bering Strait to commercial fishing, will be effective starting December 3, 2009. The closure will allow for more time to assess the health of Arctic ocean ecosystems and the potential impacts of large-scale fishing given the impacts the Arctic is already facing from climate change and ocean acidification.

And don't forget the looming threat of offshore oil drilling in the Arctic. Last month the government approved a plan for drilling in the Beaufort Sea next summer, and a similar plan for the Chukchi Sea is currently under review with a decision expected this month. 

Conservationists, scientists, and local communities agree that the science-based precautionary approach we have achieved with industiral fishing should be replicated with oil, especially given the higher risks of oil spills in the Arctic and the inability to contain, control or clean up an accident in the icy waters of the Arctic.

Congratulations to everyone who helped make this happen!


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