Thursday, April 16, 2009

Public Comment on Off-Shore Oil Drilling - Do You Care Enough to Say Something?

You may not have heard about the recent public hearings that were held this month regarding future off-shore oil drilling along the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The hearings are an effort by the Obama Administration to have a more transparent government and to ask the people what they would like to do -- and after watching the San Francisco Hearing today online, I have to say I was struck by so much enthusiasm that there was open government today, people were heard and listened to, and so many of our environmental concerns were top of the agenda by the Obama Administration. No closed-door approaches today. So different than what we experienced with the Bush Administration.

The Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, hosted four public hearings in the month of April to find out what people and organizations thought about the issue --
  • April 6, Atlantic City, NJ

  • April 8, New Orleans, LA

  • April 14, Anchorage, AK

  • April 16 (today), San Francisco, CA
  • Public comments by September 21, 2009

Although the public hearings have past, the good news is that the public comment period is not over. You can still submit your comments to the Secretary -- which is probably a lot easier than trying to show up at a morning, weekday hearing. And you also get the benefit of reviewing past hearings' info and videos online, and getting guidance from environmental organizations. Here's the link to info about the hearings. You have until September 21, 2009 to submit your comments. Here is a link to the instructions.

THE ISSUES AND WHAT I RECOMMEND FOR YOUR COMMENT:
One of the last "gifts" the Bush Administration gave to big business before leaving Washington, D.C. was to lift a moratorium on offshore drilling. Offshore drilling is highly polluting and damages coastal waters and marine life -- routine drilling empties toxics into the ocean -- routine! We're not even talking the hearing loss of marine life due to surveying, the greenhouse gases produced, the fact that the drilling would not significantly impact the U.S.' energy needs (ex. there's only enough oil offshore in California to last for about 100 days of U.S. oil consumption), and the FOREVER loss of pristine coastal areas (both land and water) that would never be the same. Read more about how offshore drilling hurts the coasts with this paper from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

And here is an excellent, easy-to-read paper about the hazards and destruction of oil drilling by Defenders of Wildlife.

Instead, we need green technologies for energy that reduce our need for oil -- not insignificant drilling for oil that is destructive. Coastal areas could have limited-impact wave energy systems and potentially wind power that are possible renewable energy sources that involve the ocean.

Here are two easy petitions you can sign and send off electronically to say no to offshore drilling -- sign one today:

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