In 2016, after communities along the Atlantic coast, in Alaska’s Arctic, and millions more Americans spoke out against offshore oil drilling in our oceans, the Obama administration protected most of the Arctic Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean from new offshore oil drilling.
But less than one year after winning these significant protections, they will have to do it again. With a White House determined to bend over backwards for the flailing fossil fuel industry, it’s clear our work is not done.
Right now, under the Trump administration, all of our coasts from Alaska to Virginia are threatened by federal efforts to expand offshore oil drilling, including the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to withdrawing from the historic Paris climate agreement and backpedaling on public health safeguards against carbon pollution and methane emissions, Trump’s “America First” energy plan puts desperate fossil fuel companies first and leaves everyday people in this country last. Big oil companies have profited from exploiting U.S. public lands and waters for decade, triggering devastating climate change. Instead of keeping polluting carbon in the ground, oil and gas companies are now looking to their new climate-denying ally in the White House, Donald Trump, for handouts. Emboldened by the Trump administration, the oil industry is ready to line the pockets of their executives at the expense of our health, wildlife, local economies, and safety.
Offshore oil drilling will not only threaten marine life and coastal communities, it will lock the world into decades of carbon-producing infrastructure that will exacerbate the damage we are already seeing to our climate, from devastating droughts to rampant wildfires to superstorms like Hurricanes Maria and Irma. Fuel efficiency measures and renewable energy like wind and solar have never been more affordable, more accessible, and more necessary. We have a narrow window of time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and usher in a just economic transition to renewable energy. For federal agencies and government officials to be greenlighting more oil and gas development in the age of deadly extreme weather is gross misconduct and reckless leadership.
The goods news is that the grassroots and bipartisan support for ocean and climate protection has only gotten stronger since the last time offshore drilling was on the table. There are amazing stories of this progress all over the country, and Greenpeace wanted to visit Atlantic Coast communities to both highlight what people are already doing to protect their coasts and share ways in which we can protect important places like the coasts of the Eastern United States and the people that depend on these places to survive and to thrive.
That is why Greenpeace decided to bring our historic ship, the Arctic Sunrise, to Norfolk and why we are calling this the “Protect our Communities, Our Coasts, and Our Climate” 2017 Atlantic Coast Ship Tour. Come aboard for free public tours Saturday and Sunday from 10am-6pm and hear more about how you can join the movement to protect our communities, our coasts and our climate from offshore oil drilling.
If the oil industry moves forward with more plans to turn the coasts of the United States into oil fields, it will meet steep resistance, from Norfolk to Anchorage. In the coming months, there will be a comment period and public hearings on the federal offshore oil and gas leasing program. Show up to a hearing and invite your neighbors. Add your representative’s number to your favorites on your cell phone. Organize a public rally and protest for the first time. When we’re united, we can support our fellow Americans in the Gulf, the Atlantic, the Arctic, and the Pacific in our collective mission to prevent the biggest crisis facing humanity.