April 20 marks the five-year anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Despite the catastrophic effects this spill had – and continues to have – on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and coastal communities, the federal government is still attempting to introduce new offshore drilling along the Mid- and South Atlantic, and now in the Arctic as well. This past week, Shell brought their massive floating rig into Port Angeles and plans to tow it to Seattle in the coming weeks to use the Port of Seattle for staging as part of their latest Arctic boondoggle.
Surfrider Foundation has been a long time opponent to offshore drilling, you can read more in our policy statement on offshore drilling.
“The Surfrider Foundation is opposed to offshore oil drilling in new areas. Our nation’s oceans, waves and beaches are vital recreational, economic and ecological treasures that will be polluted by an increase in offshore oil drilling. Instead of pursuing transient and environmentally harmful ways to meet America’s energy needs, we should seek comprehensive and environmentally sustainable energy solutions, including energy conservation.”
With huge swaths of ocean in the Mid- and South Atlantic being proposed for new offshore drilling, Surfrider Environmental Director Pete Stauffer writes a great article about how this is shaping up to be “The Next Great Battle“.
The People vs. Shell
Closer to home, the issue of offshore drilling is heating up. Although the PNW has been spared from being included as part of recent plans to open up new waters for drilling, we are being used as an enabler for Shell’s plans to drill this summer in the Chukchi Sea off the northwest coast of Alaska. The 400 ft. tall Polar Pioneer floating offshore drilling rig arrived in Port Angeles aboard the MV Blue Marlin this past Friday, where it received an “un-welcome” from several activists. The rig will be worked on for a couple of weeks in Port Angeles before being towed to Seattle. This project is a significant step in the wrong direction if we are concerned about the impacts of climate change, sea level rise, and ocean acidification here in Washington State. We are already under attack with so many different proposals on the table by gold rush dreamers who are trying to turn Washington into the oil transit hub of the West Coast.
Some have wondered if Seattle Activists Could Throw a Wrench in Shell’s Arctic Drilling Plans. With necessary permits lacking, and pending litigation over the questionable process for approval to use the Port of Seattle, one would hope that the federal government and our justice system would take lessons that should’ve been learned from past mistakes and provide strong protection for our coastal communities and the marine ecosystem from this risky endeavor. Until then, there are a number of emerging opportunities to speak up for the protection of our oceans, waves, and beaches. An easy, turn key way to do so is participating in Hands Across the Sand on May 16th to stand in solidarity against dirty fossil fuels. Or, if you want to turn it up a notch and get out on the water via SUP or Kayak, word on the dock has it that there’s gonna be a bit of a paddle party in Seattle to say sHellNo to offshore drilling.