Saturday, May 30, 2009

"Drill Baby Drill" Not the Answer

The Surfrider Foundation strongly supports the reinstatement of the Congressional moratorium banning new offshore oil drilling. For those not familiar with the infamous oil spill that helped trigger the U.S. environmental movement and later influenced this landmark directive, here’s a little background info: In 1969, over 200,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the California Channel Island waters from a platform station six miles off the Santa Barbara coastline. There was a natural gas blowout, which quickly caused breaking points in the fault lines of the surrounding ocean floor. Three million gallons of oil began leaking, and as a result, some 3,600 birds washed up dead on the shores including numerous fish, seals, dolphins, and other marine invertebrates. The community and cleanup crews spent weeks steam cleaning seawalls and rocks on the beaches, and rescuing what was struggling to survive in a badly battered marine ecosystem. Truth is, the inevitability of this tragedy had already been stirring in our U.S. waters for years. Once this unprecedented, environmental disaster finally washed ashore, many of us started to seriously question—in a new way—our priorities concerning our planet, including the protection of our marine habitats and the beaches we enjoy.

As with many things, ugly tragedies happen first and then require a national headline before there is sufficient public awareness and politicians are willing to lend a listening ear. This was the case in the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill.

17 years later, I was a young kid enjoying my summers learning how to surf at my grandmother’s beach house in Ventura, just miles from ground zero of the Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969. I remember that sometimes my grandmother would have to scrape thick tar off the bottoms of my feet after surfing. Tar on the beaches…a direct result of spills and local offshore oil drilling in the area.

So why am I mentioning this? Because “drill, baby, drill” is simply not the answer for our national energy needs, and it's that important! All political talking points aside, why should we continue to exploit a dwindling resource in environmentally sensitive areas? Even if ecological impact played no role in the matter, the Department of Energy and experts maintain that new offshore drilling will not have any significant impact on domestic crude oil and gas production. Oil is a global commodity determined by global supply and demand. And unlike other natural resources, oil has no infinite lifespan for use. As Thomas L. Friedman puts it, let’s instead insist that economic growth and environmentalism can work together. Let’s explore the potential in renewables while at the same time keeping our world’s oceans, waves, and beaches protected and to be used as a safe playground for recreational enjoyment.

“Drill, baby, drill” people who find no problem with sucking it dry in ecologically sensitive areas, hopefully this makes sense. As someone who thinks about the next generation and having my own children some day, I consider this a very relevant and important issue. And more than just not wanting to have to scrape tar off the bottoms of my children's feet at the beach, I also don’t want to see public opinion skewed on this issue for the wrong reasons.

For more information behind the myths of new offshore drilling, read this

Too learn more about Santa Barbara's response to the 1969 oil spill and the people who were involved and still help to keep the oil industry on our coastlines accountable, check this out...

Birth of a Movement...

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