The Beacon

Blog Tags: President Obama

Blog Action Day: The (Offshore) Winds of Change

Today is Blog Action Day, and this year’s theme couldn’t be more relevant to us and all you fantastic ocean activists: water.

Water is also an especially poignant theme given the timing. Next Wednesday is the six-month anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The spill dominated the news -- and this blog -- for several months, and nobody’s sure what the long-term effects will be on gulf ecosystems.

And yet, just a few days ago, the Obama administration lifted the moratorium on deepwater oil drilling several weeks earlier than planned, and several months before the release of studies about the effects of the oil spill on the gulf.

As Oceana’s pollution campaign director Jackie Savitz said of the decision, “This is an incredibly disconcerting and unjustified move, that could open the door for the next great oil disaster. Oil spills are common. The question is not whether there will be another spill but when.”

But not all the news the past few months has been negative. Yes, the gulf has endured the worst environmental crisis in our nation’s history, but there are signs of hope. Momentum on offshore wind power is building, for one thing.


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Help Us Hit 100K Signatures!

So far more than 96,000 people have signed our petition to stop offshore drilling. That's nothing to sneeze at by any means, so thanks to everyone who has signed so far!

We still have quite a ways to go to reach our goal of 500,000 signers, though. Let's start by reaching the 100K mark -- add your name to the growing list and then spread the word via Twitter, Facebook and e-mail if you haven't already.


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President Obama Almost Gets it Right

In his address to the nation last week, President Obama almost got it right.

He described his vision for America’s clean energy future, which includes wind, solar, and other renewable sources, in addition to energy efficiency.

But his vague entreaties for progress on this most crucial of issues left out vital specifics and he stopped frustratingly short of saying what is on the minds of so many of us in the wake of the tragic and seemingly endless disaster in the Gulf: it is time for a ban on offshore drilling.

When he introduced the creation of a commission to investigate the causes of the Deepwater Drilling Disaster, the president displayed the same stale mindset that has plagued so many before him: that through improved technology we can make safe what is inherently an unsafe, dirty, and dangerous practice.

We don’t need to improve offshore drilling: We need to ban it.


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Campaigners On The Ground in the Gulf

Just received this dispatch from Dave Allison, one of our senior campaign directors, who is on the ground in the Gulf.

"Approaching the airport, small fleet of fishing boats is dropping booms to contain the slick of oil churning just outside the port. As we land, Airforce One sits waiting while the president begins a day of demands and negotiation to force BP to make good on their promise to make amends for the environmental and economic devastation that Oceana warned against years ago in the report Toxic Legacy."


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Good Work, Obama. Now Make it Permanent.

President Obama announced today that he plans to suspend Arctic offshore drilling, cancel lease sales in the western Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Virginia, suspend activity on 33 exploratory wells and extend the moratorium on deepwater drilling for six months. 

Senior pollution campaign director Jackie Savitz had this to say about the announcement:

“President Obama has now seen first hand the impacts that offshore drilling can have on oceans and coastal economies. The actions taken today are just the first steps. We are relieved that Arctic drilling is off the table this summer. We continue to call for an end to all offshore drilling, on every coast,” said Jacqueline Savitz, senior campaign director.


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The Spill: What You Can Do, Part 2

© AP

As evidenced by all the comments and e-mails we’ve been getting the last few weeks, it’s clear that you all want to know how to help respond to the Gulf oil spill. And a big thanks to everyone who has already taken action with us!

Here’s an update on what you can do, whether you are in the Gulf region or not:

What you can do on the ground in the Gulf:

  • Register through OilSpillVolunteers.com to volunteer or join a cleanup organization.
  • The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL) is accepting volunteers. Register on their website.
  • The Mobile Baykeeper is asking for volunteers. Call 251-433-4229.
  • The Audubon Society is looking for help. You can report oiled wildlife at 1-866-557-1401. To report areas with oil ashore or to leave contact information to volunteer in the affected areas, call 1-866-448-5816.
  • The BP Volunteer Hotline has set up numbers if you need to report injured wildlife or damage related to the spill. You can also request volunteer information at 866-448-5816.

What you can do from anywhere:

Oceana Joins Senators in Opposition to New Drilling

andy sharpless

Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless © Oceana/Lindsay Orlowski

Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless joined three Senators at a press conference on the oil spill yesterday, and he called on President Obama and Congress to ban new offshore drilling.

"I will make it short and to the point," said Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida). "The president's proposal for offshore drilling is dead on arrival.” Senator Nelson was joined by New Jersey Democratic Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez.

The Senators also vowed to keep new oil drilling provisions out of any climate change legislation that comes out of the Senate, and Senator Menendez has introduced new legislation to raise the limit on the amount of money oil companies could be forced to pay for economic damages from catastrophic oil spills. 


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Spills Happen!

Image via Wikimedia Commons

...And more often than people think. Just days after the President offered up more of our coasts to the oil industry, an oil pipeline operated by Chevron Pipe Line Co leaked at least 18,000 gallons of crude oil into the Delta National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana.
 
This is another example of how dangerous exposure to an oil spill can potentially be to coastal wildlife and habitat, in a national wildlife refuge no less. Spills happen at every stage of oil production. Whether it is from drilling, pipelines, tankers, or refineries; a spill can occur at every stage of the oil production process. Then when we burn the oil, it contributes to climate change.

Big Oil would have us believe that spills are a thing of the past thanks to modern technology. Unfortunately, the facts play out otherwise. Oil spills are not rare occurrence. Almost one million gallons of oil enter the oceans of North America every year through extraction activities alone.


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Obama's Early April Fool's Joke?

Very funny, Mr. President, but tomorrow is April Fool’s, not today. We can’t imagine that you’d go back on your promise to keep the moratorium on offshore drilling.

President Obama announced today that he will open much of the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to offshore drilling. This includes areas that were previously protected and fragile Arctic ecosystems – places where it’s unnecessary and destructive to drill, but it seems that the President must know that.

I say that because I remember the speech Obama gave during the 2008 campaign in Florida. He was attacking Senator McCain’s proposal to expand offshore drilling, and he said, “It would have long-term consequences for our coastlines but no short-term benefits since it would take at least ten years to get any oil… It will take a generation to reach full production…When I’m President I intend to keep in place the moratorium here in Florida and around the country.”


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