Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill to prohibit the exploration, development and production of offshore oil and gas in New York waters. The law also prohibits any infrastructure to support drilling off New York’s coast, and prevents the state’s agencies from taking regulatory actions to facilitate oil and gas production in federal waters. The Trump administration had proposed plans to open much of the United States’ East Coast to oil and gas exploration and development.
Following pressure from Oceana and its allies, Chile’s Ministerial Committee made major national news by confirming the rejection of port mining project Dominga in August 2017. The Andes Iron project had already been rejected by the Environmental Assessment Commission of Coquimbo in March 2017, but the mining company appealed the decision, causing the final verdict to fall on the Ministerial Committee. Dominga’s environmental impact assessment was strongly questioned by scientists, Oceana and its allies because it didn’t include basic required scientific information and didn’t gauge the impacts that two open pit mines and a mega port would have on the marine ecosystem and the world renowned Humboldt Penguin National Reserve.
The Obama administration formally denied all pending permits to conduct seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic Ocean. Seismic airgun blasting, an extremely loud and dangerous process used to search for potential oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean’s surface, was originally proposed in an area twice the size of California, stretching from Delaware to Florida. Oceana helped mobilize more than 120 East Coast municipalities, over 1,200 elected officials and an alliance representing over 35,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families in publicly opposing offshore drilling and/or seismic airgun blasting. These individuals and groups became involved to protect the area’s nearly 1.4 million jobs and more than $95 billion in gross domestic product from dirty offshore drilling activities. Oceana will continue to advocate for the United States’ transition away from expanded offshore drilling and toward a cleaner energy economy, including the development of renewable energy sources such as offshore wind.
The Obama administration protected the Arctic Ocean from offshore drilling. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management removed the Beaufort and Chukchi seas from the newly released final 2017-2022 five-year program for oil and gas leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf. This announcement follows a similar decision in March where BOEM removed the Atlantic Ocean from the five-year program following widespread opposition along the East Coast. Oceana has been campaigning for 10 years to stop the expansion of oil and gas into the U.S. Arctic.
After advocacy from Oceana and its allies, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) finalized rules to improve spill prevention and response requirements for oil and gas exploration drilling in the U.S. Arctic Ocean. The new rules apply to companies conducting new offshore oil exploration in the remote region and require companies to have a backup rig and emergency response equipment nearby in the event of a spill or accident. They also necessitate that oil companies be able to monitor and quickly respond to dangerous Arctic weather conditions such as sea ice and storms. The Arctic rules are the result of the agencies’ work to address the lessons learned after Shell’s failed 2012 drilling efforts in the Arctic Ocean and BP’s failure to contain the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Oceana supports the implementation of these critical and overdue rules and encourages the government to use them as a starting point for greater reform of the regulations governing offshore oil and gas planning, leasing and exploration.
After years of Oceana campaigning against proposals for offshore drilling along the East Coast, the Obama administration removed the Atlantic Ocean from the five-year program (2017 to 2022) for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf. Along the Atlantic coast, nearly 1.4 million jobs and over $95 billion in gross domestic product rely on healthy ocean ecosystems, mainly through fishing, tourism and recreation. Oceana built and led a powerful grassroots movement to demonstrate the broad-based and diverse opposition to offshore drilling. As a result, over 110 East Coast municipalities, as well as more than 100 Members of Congress, more than 750 state and local elected officials and approximately 1,100 business interests have publically opposed offshore drilling and/or seismic airgun blasting. Oceana’s organization and mobilization of the people in opposition to offshore drilling led to this major victory for the ocean.
The Government of Belize announced its intention to impose a permanent ban on offshore oil exploration along the Belizean barrier reef system and within the country's seven world heritage sites. The Belizean barrier reef is the largest section of the MesoAmerican barrier reef, the biggest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere and home to some of the most biologically diverse marine ecosystems on the planet.
Following years of campaigning by Oceana and its allies, Shell Oil announced that it will cease further oil exploration in the U.S. Arctic Ocean for the foreseeable future. The move comes after a series of failed exploration attempts in the Arctic, costing the company billions of dollars. Shell’s efforts to operate in the remote and unforgiving Arctic in 2012 led to a series of mishaps, fines, government investigations and the grounding of the drill rig Kulluk. This year Shell faced new challenges and was unable to find oil in the prospect where the company drilled. Oceana’s campaigners successfully used law, economics, lobbying, science, and the press to clearly make the case that Shell’s plan was neither economically viable nor environmentally safe. Today’s decision is propelled by more than eight years of campaigning by Oceana and its allies whose work charted new ways to stop one of the largest and most powerful companies on the planet from putting the U.S. Arctic Ocean at risk. This is an enormous victory for the oceans, Oceana and the entire conservation community.
Construction of Largest Coal-Fired Plant in Chile Stopped
Codelco, the largest copper mining company in the world, canceled it plans to construct Energía Minera, which would have been the largest coal-fired plant in Chile with a capacity of 1,050 megawatts and worth $1.7 billion USD. The company canceled construction in order to avoid conflicts with local communities in the Ventanas area, which is already heavily polluted by three other thermoelectric plants and a copper refinery. Oceana has campaigned against this plant for five years together with allies. With this move, Oceana in Chile achieved its campaign goal of stopping the construction of two coal-fired plants. The other, Punta Alcalde, was cancelled earlier in 2015.
Oceana Halts Construction of $1.4 Billion Power Plant Project
A $1.4 billion power plant project, known as Punta Alcade, in Chile has been cancelled by multi-national energy company Endesa. Punta Alcade would have been built in the coastal town of Huasco, which is already heavily polluted with five existing power plants. The project’s owner, the multi-national energy company Endesa, attributed high costs associated with environmental requirements as part of its reasoning for withdrawing from the project. Oceana in Chile and its allies campaigned against Punta Alcade’s construction for four years as part of its work to establish clean energy technology throughout Chile and move away from fossil fuel emissions.