A coalition of environmental groups that includes the Natural Resources Defense Council, Greenpeace, Oceana, League of Conservation Voters, and others have joined forces to fight the U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s proposed five-year oil and gas leasing program.
Trump’s proposal has met overwhelming bipartisan opposition, and over 1.35 million comments have been registered to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). The deadline to submit a comment is this Friday.
In order to apply pressure to the Trump administration and to further educate the public about the dangers of off-shore drilling, the coalition is launching a robust series of print and digital advertisements nationally and in select markets.
The digital ads will run continuously for one week or more while the print ad will run tomorrow on Politico for one day only. The digital advertisement is already running and may be viewed here. Below is the sample print ad to run on Politico.
The opposition to the proposal is the only one in recent memory that has brought together Democrats and Republicans in a unified fight to protect seacoast lines and the communities surrounding them. In mid-February, South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace spoke to the crowd at the Don’t Drill Rally which took place at the State House. Those gathered opposed the Trump administration’s plan to open up the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to offshore drilling. Eight to 10 million tourists a year come down to Charleston. They don’t want to come to see oil drilling off the coast,” said Mace, who represents an area that includes the city.
Mace, who is a former military cadet said to the crowd: “Ain’t gonna happen. Not on my watch!”
It makes economic sense to protect the coastlines. South Carolina beaches bring $20 billion in annual tourism revenue to the region and support 600,000 tourism jobs. And she’s not the only one speaking up against the offshore drilling plan. New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Oregon, and California have all held similar rallies and have crossed partisan lines.
Since Zinke announced the proposal on January, 15 coastal governors from both political parties have asked to have their states protected from offshore drilling. As well, more than 150 House Members and nearly 40 Senators, including from non-coastal states like Minnesota, Michigan, and Nevada have spoken out against the auctioning of these public waters. Zinke has said he will consider objections from state and local leaders and the public before finalizing the proposal.
Despite the widespread public opposition to the plan, The Washington Post revealed that DOI’s visitor logs show that Zinke and other Interior officials have disproportionately met with the oil and gas industry representatives, taking over 180 direct meetings in the last four months and close to none with environmental groups.
Franz Matzner, director of Federal Affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in an email statement to The Scope Weekly: “The Trump Administration’s drilling proposal is reckless and backward-looking—and this massive public outcry shows the American people are not buying it. Our future is in clean energy jobs, not dirty, climate-wrecking fossil fuel production. Expanding offshore drilling would put us at risk of another catastrophic BP-scale oil spill, and the public won’t accept this threat to so many coastal communities, economies, and livelihoods, and to our oceans and marine life.”
The oil and gas representatives have stated that energy development off that coast could provide the states considerable hikes in annual economic growth, thousands of new jobs and potentially lower costs for residents struggling to pay their heating bills.
But Sen. Chip Campsen (R) of South Carolina pointed out at the rally that the oil and gas drilling could permanently ruin the state’s pristine coast with the sight and sound of refineries, chemical plants, sea-to-shore pipelines and storage tanks that would be built near and on those public beaches. Not to mention that the nearby roads would be taken over by diesel trucks hauling the material away.
“We have a lot at stake, a lot to protect, a lot in danger,” said Campsen to the crowd, an avid outdoorsman whose district also overlaps Charleston. “People need to understand that if you are going to have offshore drilling, you have to industrialize a huge portion of your coast.”
At the time of publishing The Scope Weekly had not heard back from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. If new information is provided, the article will be updated accordingly.