The coal-fired power plants in Las Ventanas in Chile look like something out of science fiction. They loom larger than life over the bay, their pipes extending like the legs of some huge prehistoric spider out into the water where they deposit contaminated waste into the ocean.
It was already dark when we arrived and as I ran my eyes upward along the hulking framework of lights that outlined the interconnected towers and building of the power plants, I realized there were no stars to be seen. Even when I look directly upward I couldn’t see any, as if someone had placed a blackout curtain as far as the eye can see. This is not an illusion, nor is it the result of cloud cover. It is the pollution that is made up of coal dust, smoke and the two billion kilograms of carbon dioxide emitted from these power plants each year.
UPDATE, Friday, July 26. 10:40 AM: On Thursday evening, officials stated that the gas was cut off on the burning Hercules 265 drilling rig. The only remaining fire is a small flame fueled by residual gas at the top of the well. However, these recent leaks and explosions should remind us that offshore drilling is"inherently risky," and that blowouts "aren't that infrequent." Those quotes are from Michael Bromwich, the former chief of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and its predecessor agency, the Bureau of Ocean Energy, Management Regulation and Enforcement.
"These all should be learning exercises," Bromwich went on to say. "What went wrong here? Were there errors in human judgment? What remedial or corrective actions should be taken by the company, and what can the industry and what can the regulators learn?"
To us, the lessons are clear -- shift away from dirty and dangerous fossil fuels, and towards clean, safe and forever renewable sources of energy like offshore wind. If we want to prevent these disasters in the future, we must reject offshore drilling outright. We urge you to sign our petition telling President Obama to reject seismic airgun testing and future offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean.
In a House Natural Resources Committee meeting last week, Congressman Frank Pallone of New Jersey expressed his strong opposition to proposed seismic airgun testing along the Atlantic coast, and even delivered a question on seismic testing from Oceana directly to Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell. Pallone, a senior member of the committee, stated that because he is “staunchly opposed to drilling in the Atlantic,” he is against the proposed seismic airgun testing for oil and gas in the region. Seismic airgun testing, which uses dynamite-like blasts of compressed air to search for fossil fuels under the ocean floor, is the first step towards offshore drilling for oil and gas. A proposed plan for seismic airgun testing will span the Atlantic Ocean from Delaware to Florida.
In a speech today at Georgetown University, President Barack Obama laid out his climate plan for the United States moving forward in the months, years, and decades ahead. Oceana was pleased to hear President Obama promoting clean energy like wind and solar energy, but wishes that he had also mentioned offshore wind – a form of energy that is safe for our oceans and its creatures, and forever sustainable.