OCEANA – A Response to the Deepwater Drilling Disaster

I was glad to talk to representatives from OCEANA on Making a Difference radio. To listen to our conversation, click here. As a follow up to our conversation Matt Dundas, Campaign Manager of Oceana’s Climate and Energy Campaign answered a few questions about the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Oceana, founded in 2001, is the largest international organization focused solely on ocean conservation. Their offices in North America, Central America, South America and Europe work together on a limited number of strategic, directed campaigns to achieve measurable outcomes that will help return our oceans to former levels of abundance. They believe in the importance of science in identifying problems and solutions. Their scientists work closely with our teams of economists, lawyers and advocates to achieve tangible results for the oceans. http://na.oceana.org/. Oceana’s response to the drilling disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Oceana’s Stop the Drill petition. Become a Wavemaker today and/or make a tax-deductible contribution.

BET:   What does the Deepwater Drilling Disaster mean to marine life in the Gulf of Mexico?

OCEANA: The Deepwater Drilling Disaster means bad news for many species and ecosystems in the Gulf. Animals can become coated in oil which can impede their ability to swim or fly, airways, throats, mouths and stomachs can become blocked with oil, preventing breathing, feeding and nutrient absorption. Wildlife are also vulnerable to the toxic components of oil that can result in damage to tissue and organs, including eyes, skin, reproductive systems, lungs, liver and stomachs. Wildlife can inhale toxic fumes and ingest toxic components that can include carcinogens.  There are more species at risk from this spill than can reasonably be listed. A few upsetting examples are sea turtles (four of the five species found in the Gulf are endangered), Atlantic bluefin tuna (which are severely overfished as it is and call the Gulf of Mexico one of only two spawning areas in the world), and 20 species of whales and dolphins which live in the gulf year-round, including bottle nose dolphins and endangered sperm whales. Then there are the shrimp, oysters, sharks, snappers, groupers, lobsters, and the myriad smaller species they feed on. All of these creatures can be harmed, killed or become contaminated when they come into contact with oil. That is not even to mention the wetlands and coastal areas they depend on to feed and clean the gulf, which are currently being hit by oil and may not be possible to clean. We saw with the Exxon Valdez spill that many species were depleted immediately and have never fully recovered. That was more than 20 years ago. There are ten species that are still listed as “recovering” and two that are listed as “not recovered”. We can almost certainly expect decades of depleted numbers of many marine species as a direct result of this spill.

BET:   If you could talk to the CEO of BP, Tony Hayward, what would you say or ask him to do?

 Right now, the first thing I would say is, “What are you talking to me for? Get back there and plug the spill!” But generally I would say, “BP needs to take a long look in the mirror and decide whose side you are on. Are you going to continue cutting corners on safety in order to make a quick buck, or are you going to protect the lives of your workers and the ecosystems in which you operate? Are you going to continue lobbying against meaningful climate legislation, or are you going to understand that leadership is lacking in the energy sector and you could once again be a global leader in the fight against climate change?” Most importantly, I would ask him, “Will you pledge not to take the path of greed and eschewing of responsibility that Exxon took after the Valdez spill? Will you promise to be the leading force in cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico for the next 30 years?”

   Share with us the biggest success you have experienced with the program.

 It is hard to call anything a success in the wake of such a tragic and ongoing disaster. But we have been working hard to make sure our message gets out there and future spills are prevented. Our CEO Andy Sharpless appeared on the Capitol Lawn alongside Senators Bill Nelson, Frank Lautenberg, and Robert Menendez, as well as the executive directors of the Sierra Club and Environment America, to call on President Obama to drop any plans for new drilling. We co-hosted a successful rally for the clean-up in New Orleans and turned out dozens of volunteers to the Minerals Management Service hearings on new drilling last month. But maybe most impressively, over 62,000 people have already signed our petition to ban offshore drilling. So one thing I think we’re doing successfully is tapping into the outpouring of support for our program that has erupted since April 20. The challenge moving forward will be turning that support into a good policy result, which must be nothing short of a moratorium on new offshore drilling.

   What can we do to help the situation and prevent it from happening again?

 Stop offshore drilling. In the near-term, President Obama must turn around on his recent proposal to expand offshore drilling to new areas and instate a moratorium on new drilling, much like what was in place until 2008. Proposals to expand on safety through additional regulation are well-intentioned, but neglectful of the fact that spills will happen no matter how many regulations are in place as long as we are still drilling. The only way to guarantee that this will never happen again is to stop offshore drilling. Offshore wind farms are a great substitute by creating more jobs and zero risk of a spill.

As for what every day people can do to help, first and foremost – sign our petition to ban offshore drilling at stopthedrill.org. From there, you can also find links to our resource center, where you can sign up to be an offshore drilling volunteer, print off copies of the petition to collect signatures yourself, download fact sheets about offshore drilling, donate to Oceana, find out about Gulf area clean ups, and more.

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2 thoughts on “OCEANA – A Response to the Deepwater Drilling Disaster

  1. I do not completely blame Obama but I do blame him for not making sure the drilling requirements were met and that safety precautions not up where they were required to be before saying “drill baby drill” everyone makes mistakes but make sure that when you say something that is going to involve half the world that all requirements are met for safety and protective of the enviroment.

    1. Crystal.
      Thanks for reading and responding. I agree with you on all counts. The impact is so huge on so many levels almost hard to comprehend. And the BP comment about “small people!” How patronizing can you get. We know why our founders left Britain!

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