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Stop Trump from Opening Coastlines to Offshore Drilling

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Stop Trump from Opening Coastlines to Offshore Drilling

Photo by Berardo62

Photo by Berardo62

Photo by Berardo62

Hannah Browne, Reporter

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On a clear day, you can see for miles. With sand between your toes, and a nice ocean breeze fanning your face, you can gaze out across the gently breaking waves and see absolutely nothing but the vast sea and the occasional flight of a sea bird or the spout of a whale.

The Monterey Bay and its surrounding coastal communities are beautiful, pristine and full of magical ecosystems beneath the surface of the water.

Fast-forward a few years from now and this view will be a lost dream, a mirage of life before Trump. The horizon will be dotted with oil platforms, unsightly masses of metal that oddly look like transformers from a science fiction movie, rising out of the sea like evil destroyers. But this movie is not fiction, it is a real life horror story.

Trump wants to put oil platforms on our coastline. It is a giant leap backward for mankind that has disastrous consequences. He needs to be stopped.

Trump has introduced a proposal in January that asks the U.S. Department of the Interior to open almost all U.S. waters to oil and gas exploration and drilling, including six areas in California, one of which is the ocean adjoining the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Trump does not need a public vote to get his wish. Federal waters begin three nautical miles off our coasts and he wants them. The only means of voicing our disapproval comes in the form of a public comment period which ends March 9.

Trump’s proposal has left past presidents, state governors, and citizens in speechless disbelief. The last time California offshore drilling was expanded under a federal leasing program was in 1984. The last time the state of California issued new offshore oil and gas leases was 1969.

The Santa Barbara oil spill in 1969 dumped 100,000 barrels into the ocean and on beaches, and it was devastating, killing marine life and altering fragile ecosystems. It prompted a ban on further oil and gas exploration in California state waters that exists today.

Since Gerald Ford approved the first federal marine sanctuary in 1972, Presidents from George H.W. Bush to Barack Obama have supported designating federal ocean waters off limits to oil and gas production. They have balanced America’s energy needs with the needs of our fragile ocean ecosystems. Red or Blue, Republican or Democrat, the effort has been united.  

That is why this proposal is so shocking. America already decided drilling in the ocean is a bad idea. We watched the Exxon Valdez spill 260,000 barrels of oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989, which paled in comparison to watching the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explode in 2010, killing 11 people and spilling 4.9 million barrels of oil as the platform sunk to the ocean floor.  

We know the consequences of drilling in the open ocean can be disastrous, and the cost of offshore drilling far exceeds the benefits. Obama responded to the threat by closing off the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington to further federal offshore drilling until 2022, and he completely closed off drilling in the Atlantic continental shelf.

The proposal also has economists scratching their heads. On a net basis, we import approximately 25% more oil than we export every year. Oil is currently cheap, and our consumption has been decreasing. There are no market conditions that warrant opening up federal waters to oil drilling. In fact, gluttoning the worldwide supply of oil with more oil will only lower the price and wreak havoc on the world economy.

Additionally, the finite supply of oil that the Earth has to offer has actually forced us to look at alternative energy sources and begin the long process of weaning ourselves from fossil fuels. Isn’t this the ultimate goal? America should be focused on promoting new clean technologies instead of old dirty ones.  

Apparently, Trump sees things differently. With the support of the oil industry that helped elect him to president, Trump wants America to achieve “energy dominance.” What exactly the phrase means has not been fully explained by the president, especially as it relates to the environmental costs incurred to achieve this so called dominance.

With commitments by California Governor Jerry Brown to “stop this reckless, shortsighted action,” and a feisty rebuttal by Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom to “use every power in its toolbox to ensure that not a drop of oil or gas from new offshore drilling ever makes landfall in California,” we know Trump’s plan will be strongly contested.

However, being out of touch with red America has never felt so blue. With the support of non-coastal red states, Trump may get his wish unless we let him hear our voices. Let Trump know we want to keep our coastline and our ocean blue.

Add your comments to the Federal Register on the 2019-2024 Draft Proposed Program National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program at https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=BOEM-2017-0074-0001

 

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Hannah Browne, Reporter

Hannah Browne (“Brownie”) is a junior at Presentation High School. It is no surprise that Hannah’s first feature article for the Voice is about ocean...

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Stop Trump from Opening Coastlines to Offshore Drilling