Tuesday night, the Wilmington City Council unanimously passed a resolution opposing seismic airgun blasting and offshore drilling off the state’s coast. Wilmington, which is the largest port city in North Carolina, fears the federal government’s plans for offshore oil and gas exploration and development threaten coastal communities, economies, fisheries and marine mammals.
The Obama administration is currently considering opening a large swath of the Atlantic Ocean, from Virginia to Georgia, to offshore drilling. Meanwhile, seismic airgun blasting, a process used to search for oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean floor, is continuing to move forward in an area twice the size of California, stretching all the way from Delaware to Florida.
“We applaud the Wilmington City Council for taking a stand against Big Oil and saying NO to seismic airgun blasting and offshore drilling,” said Randy Sturgill, campaign organizer at Oceana. “Opposition to East Coast drilling is growing every day and the federal government should be listening. Opening up the Atlantic to offshore drilling is a dirty and dangerous business—there are countless risks with little to no reward. Coastal communities like Wilmington have the most to lose, and their voices must be heard. We encourage local residents and their elected officials to continue to speak out against the Obama’s administration’s proposed plan to open up the Atlantic to Big Oil.”
As of today, more than 60 coastal communities have passed similar resolutions against seismic airguns and/or offshore drilling, including 16 in North Carolina such as Carolina Beach and Wrightsville Beach. In addition, more than 85 members of Congress, roughly 500 local and state officials, over 160 conservation and animal welfare organizations, as well as the Billfish Foundation, the International Game Fish Association, the Southeastern Fisheries Association, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, have all publically opposed offshore oil exploration and/or development. In March, Oceana and others delivered more than half a million petitions opposing offshore development to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
Also in March, 75 leading marine scientists sent a letter to President Obama on the impacts of seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic Ocean, stating that “the magnitude of the proposed seismic activity is likely to have significant, long-lasting, and widespread impacts on the reproduction and survival of fish and marine mammal populations in the region, including the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, of which approximately only 500 remain.”
“These efforts could destroy our coastal economies and communities for decades to come,” said Sturgill. “If allowed, this plan would open the East Coast to industrial offshore drilling for the first time in U.S. history. Offshore drilling in the Atlantic would lead to a coast scattered with oil and gas rigs, the industrialization of coastal communities and the looming threat of a Deepwater Horizon-like disaster. Port cities such as Wilmington, NC, Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA, which would be essential to offshore drilling off the East Coast, are simply not willing to trade in their oceans or their way of life all for less than 4 percent of the nation’s total oil and natural gas reserves.”
Oceana’s own analysis found that offshore wind would create twice the number of jobs and generate twice the amount of energy as offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, without the risk of a catastrophic spill. For North Carolina specifically, offshore wind would produce more than twice as many jobs and nearly thirty percent more energy than offshore drilling in twenty years. Oceana is the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans. Oceana wins policy victories for the oceans using science-based campaigns. Since 2001, we have protected over 1.2 million square miles of ocean and innumerable sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and other sea creatures. More than 600,000 supporters have already joined Oceana. Global in scope, Oceana has offices in North, South and Central America, Asia, and Europe. To learn more, please visit www.oceana.org.