Recently released data from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) undercuts the oil and gas industry’s public relations campaign urging for more drilling and less safeguards on public lands. The data from the BLM shows a reported record amount of natural gas production, millions of acres held by leases that are not being produced, and thousands of unused drilling permits—dispelling the notion that America must leave more of its public lands open to drilling.
“Unfortunately for the oil and gas industry’s hundred-million-dollar PR blitz, the facts tell a different story,” said Dave Alberswerth, senior energy policy advisor for The Wilderness Society.
“We’ve seen reported record production of natural gas and billions of dollars in profits for the oil and gas industry, and at the same time we’re seeing unused drilling permits all across the West and tens of millions of acres of unused federal leases. How can the industry say they’re being locked out in the face of this new information?”
The BLM’s 2011 Oil & Gas Statistics report shows a record high amount of natural gas extracted from federal leases, more than 5.3 million cubic feet—nearly double the highest total ever recorded by the BLM since they began keeping records in 1984. The agency’s records show an increase in leasing of federal acres—up to more than 2 million acres in fiscal year (FY) 2011, from less than 1.4 million acres in FY 2010. The number of leases also increased, to 2,188 in FY 2011 from 1,308 in FY 2010.
Further, oil and gas companies still have a large number of unused drilling permits—the “green light” to start a well. In June of 2010 BLM reported more than 7,000 approved but unused federal drilling permits—the data released Jan. 5 shows that the industry continues to acquire permits they are not using. In FY 2010, 1,400 wells were drilled despite more than 4,000 drilling permits issued—in FY 2011 that number went to 3,260 wells drilled while 4,244 were issued.
“The bottom line is that the industry is making billions of dollars and has enough leases and permits to produce record amounts of natural gas from our federal lands. They are sitting on tens of millions of acres of unused federal leases and thousands of unused federal drilling permits. We can continue to permit oil and gas development in a responsible manner that also safeguards our wild places,” said Nada Culver, senior director of agency policy.
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The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
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The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
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Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.