In January 2018, the Department of Interior (DOI) released its draft 2019-2024 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, which expands future oil and gas leasing to the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans and the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Offshore drilling increases the risk of toxic exposure from oil contamination to wildlife and coastal communities, and contributes to economic losses and climate change. Its precursor, seismic blasting, fires blasts of compressed air to discover oil reserves. These blasts, of the loudest human-made sounds in the ocean, threaten marine life, damage hearing, disrupt navigation and communication, and cause incredible stress.
Along the Atlantic coast, 1.4 million jobs and over $95 billion in gross domestic product rely on healthy ocean ecosystems, mainly through fishing, tourism and recreation. Oceana has organized grassroots efforts and stimulated bi-partisan push back to offshore drilling at the expense of coastal economies and environments. Currently every governor of Atlantic and Pacific Coast states, except Alaska, has declared formal opposition to the plan. No legislation has passed the House of Representatives to expand offshore drilling despite numerous attempts. Legislation that would have increased oil and gas production offshore and onshore in the US (H.R. 4239, the SECURE American Energy Act) did not go to the House floor for a vote, due in large part to Oceana’s organizing efforts and federal advocacy.
Despite the delayed release of any offshore oil-drilling plan, the Administration continues to push permits for seismic airgun blasting forward. Oceana and its partners introduced litigation to block issuance of permits for blasting in the Atlantic, citing violations of multiple federal environmental laws. As well, Oceana and partners filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, asking the court to prevent seismic blasting until the lawsuit has been decided.
Orton Foundation is proud to stand with Oceana and partners in opposition to offshore drilling.
In North Carolina, tourism, recreation and commercial fishing contribute $2.5 billion in GDP and support 57,000 jobs. Oceana and partners are defending this coastal economy – and all others – from offshore drilling and seismic testing.