Quantcast
Energy

People Power: Virginians Say No to Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling

Major oil and gas companies have been eyeing the development of potential oil and gas reserves, while several geological surveying companies are awaiting permits to begin seismic testing. And while the voice of the people in opposition to these disastrous plans for Virginia’s natural resources is clear, Gov. Terry McAuliffe isn’t listening.

Greenpeace activists hold a banner in front of the Virginia State Capitol reading “Gov. McAuliffe: Say No To Offshore Drilling.” Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe supports drilling for oil off the coast of Virginia while city and town officials are opposing it. Photo credit: Julia Rendleman / Greenpeace

McAuliffe was elected Governor of Virginia in 2014 and he promptly aligned himself with the political right by joining the Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition (OSCGC) after the group appealed to his office directly. The OCSGC, which was convened by industry lobbyist group Consumer Energy Alliance and is chaired by North Carolina Gov. (and former Duke Energy executive) Pat McCrory, is one of the main groups behind the current push to open the Atlantic to oil and gas exploration.

McAuliffe joined the group to tout his claims that Atlantic drilling will bring thousands of jobs to the area and give Virginia energy independence. But lately, he’s been less than clear on this position.

Perhaps this is because, as the only Democrat in the OCSGC, he’s in opposition to the majority of his own party—including longtime friend and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. McAuliffe has hit the campaign trail for Clinton several times and in his pro-Hillary frenzy before Super Tuesday, he slipped up by saying he will support her in opposing Atlantic drilling. Less than 24 hours later, he reversed course, claiming that he had had trouble hearing the question at the previous day’s rally.

While his spokesperson quickly corrected the misstep, this actually isn’t the first time he’s adjusted his stance. A week prior, he stated that he’d withdraw his support for offshore drilling without a revenue sharing agreement. And recently, his own Lieutenant Governor has come out strongly against drilling, with or without a revenue sharing agreement.

Voices of Virginians Against Drilling

In the absence of leadership from the governor’s office, locals in Virginia know that this decision is far from final. They’re optimistic that continued pressure will squash any plans for oil and gas drilling in the region.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to meet with several people working against offshore drilling in Virginia Beach.

The folks we spoke with—which included conservationists, non-profit volunteers, coastal business owners and even the city’s Commissioner of Revenue—had different reasons for their opposition to drilling, but they all had one thing in common. They’re not buying the false job promises of jobs and energy independence touted by Gov. McAuliffe. They believe the longstanding beach economy built on tourism and healthy beaches offers far more to the community than offshore drilling.

Conservationist and Surfrider Foundation Volunteer Christina Trapani did rehabilitation work in the Gulf of Mexico after the BP Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010. She’s afraid what happened to wildlife in the Gulf could happen again if Atlantic drilling goes forward. “We treated turtles; a few hundred. I was there during intake. They were bringing in animals from offshore that were covered in oil. There are so many out there that we missed. The ones that came in where the lucky ones.”

And Commissioner of Revenue Philip Kellam said in a statement that he is worried about the impacts of drilling on Virginia Beach’s thriving oyster economy and the livelihoods of the entire community, including his sons.

While Virginians haven’t had oil and gas drilling off their coast this generation, they know the consequences that come with major spills and inevitable small leaks. They also know that the power to protect their coastal waters is in their hands.

“Our local voices really matter. There are eight different criteria for BOEM to hear and one of those is environmental impact. It’s also local voices, it's also elected leaders. The elected leaders need to speak for the people and carry our voices.” — Virginia Beach Business Owner Laura Wood Habr

From the local level to the federal level, there is more work to do in order close the door on Atlantic exploitation. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is expected to finalize its proposed five-year oil and gas leasing plan for 2017-2022 this month. With the release of the proposal will come a 90-day comment period and another opportunity for the public to voice its opposition. And when it comes, we’ll be ready.

From Virginia to the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic, the power of our voices can turn the tide and force President Obama to stop all new offshore leases.

Sign on and tell POTUS to secure his climate legacy today!

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Oregon Passes Historic Bill to Phase Out Coal and Double Down on Renewables

Trees Cut as Maple Syrup Farmers Lose Eminent Domain Battle Over Constitution Pipeline

Presidential Candidates Talk Climate, Energy on Super Tuesday

China’s Coal Use and Carbon Emissions Fall as Renewables Have Record-Breaking Year

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
A Bureau of Land Management contractor's helicopter forces a wild horse into a trap during the recent roundup at the Salt Wells Creek. Steve Paige

Brutal Outlook for Healthy Wild Horses and Burros: BLM Calls for Shooting 90,000

On Thursday, the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board recklessly voted to approve recommendations that call on the Bureau of Land Management to shoot tens of thousands of healthy wild horses and burros.

At its meeting in Grand Junction, Colorado, the advisory board recommended that BLM achieve its on-range population goal of 26,715 wild horses and burros while also phasing out the use of long-term holding facilities—both within three years.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
www.youtube.com

‘Geostorm’ Movie and Climate Hacking: Are the Dangers Real?

By Jane A. Flegal and Andrew Maynard

Hollywood's latest disaster flick, "Geostorm," is premised on the idea that humans have figured out how to control the earth's climate. A powerful satellite-based technology allows users to fine-tune the weather, overcoming the ravages of climate change. Everyone, everywhere can quite literally "have a nice day," until—spoiler alert!—things do not go as planned.

Admittedly, the movie is a fantasy set in a deeply unrealistic near-future. But coming on the heels of one of the most extreme hurricane seasons in recent history, it's tempting to imagine a world where we could regulate the weather.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Area 1002 of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain. Wikimedia Commons.

GOP-Controlled Senate Paves Way for Oil Drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

The Senate Republicans' narrow passage of the 2018 budget plan on Thursday opened the door for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR).

But Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups criticized the GOP for sneaking the "backdoor drilling provision" through the budget process. Past proposals to drill in the refuge have consistently failed.

Keep reading... Show less
iStock

Corporate Fleets Making the Switch to Electric Vehicles

By Gina Coplon-Newfield and Sung-Jae Park

Recently, 10 major transnational corporations launched EV100, a new global initiative to slash emissions by increasing the number of corporate fleet electric vehicles (EV) on the road. EV100 companies, including Ikea, Unilever and HP, are committing to, by 2030, integrate EVs into their owned or leased fleets and install EV charging stations for customers and employees.

The full initial list of companies, many of which operate many thousands of fleet vehicles, includes: Baidu, Deutsche Post DHL Group, Heathrow Airport, HP Inc., IKEA Group, LeasePlan, METRO AG, PG&E, Unilever and Vattenfall. Vattenfall, the Swedish power company that serves most of Europe, intends to meet the campaign's commitments, and then some. "Replacing our whole 3,500 car fleet with EV in the coming five years, working with our customers to deploy charging infrastructure, and building northern Europe's biggest connected charging network, are three examples of actions we are taking to promote a sustainable and climate smarter living for customers and citizens," Magnus Hall, CEO of Vattenfall, said.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
www.youtube.com

Losses From California Wildfires Top $1 Billion, Expected to Rise 'Dramatically'

Insured losses from fires in Northern California have topped $1 billion and are expected to rise "dramatically," state insurance officials announced Thursday.

Keep reading... Show less
Damage from Hurricane Maria. La Organización Boricuá de Agricultura Ecológica

Puerto Rico's Revival Depends on Empowering Small-Scale Farmers

Reporting by Saulo Araujo

Houses without roofs and trees without leaves is all the eyes could see in the week following the devastation that Hurricane Maria wrought. The Category 5 storm with 150+ miles per hour winds was the strongest to hit the island in over a century, leaving the entire population without water and power. Weeks later 3 million people are still without electricity.

Up in the mountains, small-scale farmers lost their crops, and their ability to feed their families was abruptly leveled. La Organización Boricuá de Agricultura Ecológica (Boricuá) a grassroots organization of more than 100 families made up of small-scale farmers, farmworkers and organizers across Puerto Rico and the islands of Vieques & Culebra, continues working to communicate with their members in rural areas and to assess the damages. Boricua has made great progress in the last three decades to organize and support farmers, facilitate farmer-to-farmer trainings, and build solidarity nationally and globally. They are helping to fuel agroecology on the island, bringing locally grown, nutritious food to their communities and to market.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
The damaged oil platform in Lake Pontchartrain, LA after the Oct. 15 explosion. U.S. Coast Guard

Gulf Oil Spill Off Louisiana Coast Is 2x Bigger Than Original Estimate

LLOG Exploration Company, LLC drastically underestimated the amount of oil its fractured pipeline spilled into the Gulf of Mexico last week.

The oil and gas operator first estimated that it spewed about 340,000 gallons of oil. Now, according to a Coast Guard announcement, the company is now reporting a discharge of 672,000 gallons—about two times the initial estimate.

Keep reading... Show less
Before and after images of EPA's climate and energy website. Environmental Data and Governance Initiative

New EPA Climate Change Website Doesn't Mention 'Climate Change'

In the Trump administration's ongoing efforts to pretend that climate change doesn't exist, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made dramatic changes to a website catered to helping states, local and tribal governments learn about global warming and how prepare and respond to the impacts of our hot new world, according to a new analysis from the watchdog group Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI).

As you can see in the screenshot above, the website site was previously titled "Climate and Energy Resources for State, Local, and Tribal Governments." Now, it's called, "Energy Resources for State, Local, and Tribal Governments." Fifteen mentions of the term "climate change" were scrubbed from the original main page alone, and the old epa.gov/statelocalclimate URL even redirects to epa.gov/statelocalenergy.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

Get EcoWatch in your inbox