Mon – 12/3: They stop our breath in wonder when we see them. When we hear them. Now it’s time to fight for them.

(Photo by Andy Jackson/Stuff. Three more sperm whales washed up in May 2018 near the Kaupokonui river mouth South Taranaki bringing the total to 11 discovered in three days.)

Action #1 – Support HR 2158/S/1263 – Atlantic Seismic Airgun Protection Act.

Marine animals are in danger from this destructive testing method. This bill amends the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to prohibit oil-, gas-, and methane hydrate-related seismic activities in the North Atlantic, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, and Straits of Florida planning areas of the outer Continental Shelf. It’s a good start.

Minimal script: I’m calling from [zip code] to askRep./Sen. [___] to cosponsor [Reps. – HR 2158 / Senators – S.1258] – “Atlantic Seismic Airgun Protection Act.”

Are they cosponsors already? Check here for reps and here for senators. (All of our people need to step up, Brownley and Carbajal, Feinstein and Harris.)

Contact your Legislators
Rep. Julia Brownley: email, (CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
or Rep. Salud Carbajal: email. (CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
Senator Feinstein: email, DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
and Senator Harris: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (213) 894-5000, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 355-9041, SD (619) 239-3884
Other Rep./Senator Contactswww.phoneyourrep.com

Action #2 – Ask our legislators to create an ban on all new offshore drilling.

Minimal script: I’m calling from [zip code] to ask Rep./Sen. [___], in light of our government’s own report on climate change, to sponsor a legislative ban all new offshore drilling. Oil and water don’t mix and currently leaking offshore drilling sites (such as the Hurricane Ivan-induced Taylor spill) prove we prevent or even fix damage from our new, more powerful hurricanes (references: here, here, and here.) It’s time to stop this incredibly short-sided energy policy.

Contact your Legislators – see Action #1

Background

The Trump administration, as part of their “energy dominance” agenda, has done four things that will have tragic environmental consequences.

  • They reduced the safety barrier established by President Obama for offshore drilling from 50 miles offshore to 3 miles.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has granted five operators permission to conduct seismic tests with powerful air-gun blasts to locate fossil fuels in the Atlantic Ocean, a process already known to harm whales, dolphins and other marine life. Much quieter or silent options have not been properly funded for research.
  • NOAA has additionally given the companies a “Get out of jail free” card by allowing them to  “incidentally but not intentionally harass marine mammals” while conducting surveys.
  • They’ve ignored their own climate report’s warning regarding increasing flooding and hurricanes, which have already proven to cause huge damage to offshore drilling sites.

This video is from the Obama era, but it’s still good information.

Habitat loss: Pro-oil industry sources say animals are smart enough to move away from loud sounds and that the testing is temporary. If they do have to leave, that means that they’ve lost part of their habitat. “This loss of habitat doesn’t necessarily “harm” them in the same way that cutting down a rainforest doesn’t “harm” an orangutan, but ultimately it puts the species at risk.”

Physical damage: Marine mammals rely on sound for breeding, hunting and communicating as water transmits sound much more efficiently than air.  Loud sounds damage their hearing, which will negatively stress all aspects of their survival and could lead to mass strandings.

The death of food sources: Airgun blasts kill fish eggs and larvae and scare away fish from important habitats. The extreme disruption can also harm zooplankton, a critical foundational plank of the ocean food web. Following seismic surveys, catch rates of cod and haddock declined by 40 to 80 percent for thousands of miles.

Some of these mammals are already endangered: One model prediction used in a federal 2014 study by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), estimated that nearly 2.5 million dolphins, including 6 endangered species, would be harassed or possibly killed by acoustic sound blasts each year in the middle and southern Atlantic, and nearly a half-million pilot whales would be affected. The North Atlantic right whale, with only around 440 individuals left, has fewer than 100 breeding females. It was also estimated that 12 humpback whales could be killed each year. However, BOEM has asserted that there is no confirmed evidence that animals are actually harmed by seismic mapping and considers the threat “negligible.” Later researchers say that there is no such thing as a “negligible amount” of harm for species that are already endangered. “The sounds of industry are colonizing and masking their biological niches,” said Stocker, acoustician and executive director of Ocean Conservation Research. “It’s stressing the animals out.”

Seismic surveys have been referred to as the “gateway drug” for offshore oil drilling.The part that is always left off discussion from oil industry supporters is that if fossil fuel sources are discovered, seismic surveys will be needed throughout the life of the oil field.

It won’t be just the water-base mammals who suffer:  Offshore drilling is associated not only with habitat destruction, but their inevitable oil spills contribute to climate change and ocean acidification. The government’s own report released the day after Thanksgiving stated excavating and burning fossil fuels from federal land comprised nearly a fourth of all carbon dioxide emission in the US over a decade ending in 2014.

Climate change make more disaster inevitable:  Incidents of flooding and hurricanes are increasing as our world gets hotter. The Taylor Energy spill of up to an estimated 700 barrels a day started when Hurricane Ivan ripped up production wells and could continue for the rest of the century, according to the Interior Department. These disasters cause huge tragedies for marine wildlife and devasting financial losses to seaside communities. Seismic testing itself can destroy fisheries, and the jobs associated with them. Every state executive on the coast below Maine opposed the plan.

These are the 5 companies that are involved in this slow-motion tragedy.

  • ION GeoVentures (Contact here.)
  • Spectrum Geo Inc. (Contact here)
  • GGG Oil Company, LTD (Contact here. Address: P.O. Box 1410, Cotulla, TX 78014
    Phone: (830) 373-4448)
  • WesternGeco (which is part of oilfield services giant Schlumberger)(Contact here)
  • TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Company (Contact here.)

California has already taken measures to protect itself: In September of this year, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation (SB 834 and AB 1774) to block the Trump administration’s plan to expand offshore oil drilling along the CA coast. The new law prevents any expansion of offshore oil and gas drilling by barring new construciton of drilling-related infrastructure, such as pipelines, within state wat

 

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