Stop the Expansion of Animal-Poisoning Offshore Drilling Operations

Target: Debra Anne Haaland, United States Secretary of the Interior

Goal: Demand the Biden Administration stop expansion of offshore drilling efforts and ensure they do not lease any territory to fossil fuel companies.

In the face of mounting political pressure to reduce gas prices and fight against Russia’s monopoly on Western European energy, President Biden has made some tough decisions that contradict his prior commitments to climate change prevention. In early July, the President’s administration revealed a five-year offshore oil and gas drilling development plan. Although this plan would ban new drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, it would also auction off extensive stretches of our coastlines in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska. This five-year plan has received much backlash from environmentalists and activists, especially following Biden’s “no more drilling” pledge in March 2020. New leasing will also thwart the administration’s previously stated goal of cutting carbon emissions by at least 50% by 2030, thus failing to deliver the promised climate change regulations.

Approval of additional offshore drilling will result in disaster for millions of wildlife and surrounding coastal communities. Oil spills are an unavoidable feature of offshore drilling and, each year, over 157,000 barrels of oil are released into our waterways. This crude oil significantly affects biodiversity in oceanic ecosystems. Thick layers coat marine animals’ feathers and fur, leaving mammals and birds unable to self-insulate and exposing them to the harsh elements. Some animals try to clean the oil off of them, unintentionally poisoning themselves in the process while others still—including sea turtles—get trapped in the thick layers of crude oil and are unable to resurface. Coral reefs become mired in oil and die off, along with the tens of thousands of species that they sustain. Even commercial fish and shellfish populations can be contaminated by the spillage, making them unfit for human consumption. The effects of these spill are pervasive, and it can be decades before the crude oil is cleaned and its chokehold on ecosystems loosened.

Oil spills aren’t just detrimental to wildlife and plant populations, but to humans as well. Prolonged exposure to crude oil and toxic waste causes a series of health complications for people who live along coasts, including respiratory, eye, and skin problems. There have even been reported reproductive and neurological issues stemming from this exposure. The contamination of marine life may also leave these communities without vital resources, and the inability to fish these animals affects local economies as well.

Any new oil production will take years to solidify, and the leasing of new unperturbed territories to offshore drilling efforts will not alleviate inflated gas prices of modern day. We need a plan that will help us move towards a 100% clean energy economy rather than increase production of oil and gas. Sign this petition to demand that no new leases are approved.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Secretary Haaland,

It is with grave disappointment that we write you today. Despite the Biden Administration’s promise to help fight against climate change, a recently announced five-year offshore oil and gas drilling development plan seems to threaten this very commitment, offering up valuable land and resources to fossil fuel companies. Contradicting Biden’s “no more drilling pledge,” this plan, if followed through, will essentially eradicate any chances we have of cutting carbon emissions by at least 50% by 2030, another promise previously made by this very administration.

New oil drilling operations will not only contribute to the U.S.’s ever-rising greenhouse gas emissions, but will also affect the lives of millions of plants, animals, and people in other ways as well. Oil spills are an inevitable caveat of offshore drilling, with over 157,000 barrels of oil being released as a result of these and similar procedures. Crude oil contaminates our waterways, often taking decades to decompose. Pretty much every level of the ecosystem is affected by these spills. Marine mammals and birds get coated in oil, preventing them from self temperature regulation. Many die from hypothermia or are poisoned when trying to clean the oil off. Dolphins and whales are forced to inhale these toxic chemicals—which can span tens of miles—and suffer respiration issues as result, while other animals like sea turtles get trapped in the thick oil and are unable to resurface. Even coral reefs-which sustain thousands of plant and animal species—are affected by oil spills, and die off as they are gradually mired in oil.

Surrounding coastal communities are also impacted by offshore drilling, as spilt oils and toxins worsen air quality and contribute to a whole slew of health complications including respiratory, eye, and skin problems. Prolonged exposure has even been correlated with the later development of reproductive or neurological problems. The contamination of commercial fish and shellfish populations also hurts local economies, and many are forced to go without these vital resources for indefinite periods of time.

New oil production operation will take years to actuate, and will not be much help in alleviating the high energy costs of modern day. Instead of furthering our reliance on fossil fuels, we must come up with plans that help us move towards a 100% clean energy economy.

We are asking you, Ms. Haaland, to please not approve any new leases to fossil fuel companies. It is your responsibility to protect our oceans and coastlines, as well as the wildlife and communities who reside there and everywhere else.

Sincerely,
[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: International Bird Rescue Research Center


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