The Gulf Spill – Three Things You Can Do

Posted by: Chris Laughlin

With the largest environmental disaster in the United States unfolding, there has never been a better time to join together and say NO to new offshore drilling and YES to clean energy, a strong climate bill and national ocean policy.

What you can do:

1) Hands Across The Sandthis Saturday, June 26th, join us as we form lines in the sand at 11 AM (in your time zone).  To find a gathering near you, click here.

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Hands Across The Sand was founded by Dave Rauschkolb, “The image is powerful, the message simple,” he said.  “No to offshore drilling, yes to clean energy.  We are drawing a line in the sand against offshore oil drilling along America’s beaches and in solidarity events across America and around the world.  No one industry should be able to place entire coastal economies and marine environments at risk with dangerous, dirty mistakes.”

The mission of Hands Across The Sand is to change our energy policy away from its dependence on fossil fuels and into the light of clean energy.  The aim is to convince our leaders to abandon expanded offshore oil drilling and adopt policies that encourage clean and renewable energy sources.

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The BP Gulf oil spill is estimated to be pumping 35,000-60,000 barrels per day, or 2.5 million gallons per day.  It is pumping the equivalent of one Exxon Valdez spill every four days (which dumped 11 million gallons).  It is devastating estuaries and other critical habitat, shutting down sensitive fisheries, and killing birds, marine mammals and turtles.  Many jobs will continue to be lost, and the economic impact – immense.

2) Keep pushing for change.  Send a message to President Obama and your Senators. A disaster this big deserves an even bigger response. We must drive a paradigm shift that moves us away from offshore drilling and toward clean energy.  To make that happen we need a strong climate bill passed before the end of the year.

3) Support the Gulf spill response on the ground, two organizations that can use additional help:

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Beyond offshore oil drilling – let’s go there!

Date Posted: June 21, 2010 @ 5:34 pm Comments Off

Toward a Clean Energy Future?

Posted by: Mike Dunmyer

I didn’t know what to expect from President Obama’s speech last night. I prepared myself for a wide range of possibilities from “paradigm-shifting leadership moment” to “PR effort to assure the American voters that everything was going to be ok.” When it wrapped up 17 minutes later, it felt much closer to “PR effort” than to “leadership moment.”

Without question, some good words were spoken. I loved his comment about transitioning to renewable energy, “Now, there are costs associated with this transition. And some believe we can’t afford those costs right now. I say we can’t afford not to change how we produce and use energy — because the long-term costs to our economy, our national security, and our environment are far greater.” In addition, Obama put out the rallying cry that BP’s oil spill is, “the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now.” Later, he spoke of the need to end the country’s “addiction to fossil fuels.”

All true, and a great setup for a call to action. Unfortunately, what followed was a blank canvas. The President made an appeal for all ideas and said the only thing he wouldn’t tolerate was inaction. Open ended approaches have not yet produced results with this Congress, but crystal clear leadership and rigorous directives have. In this case, we didn’t get it. The way in which he closed his comments was telling. He asked Americans to pray for the courage to change and for a hand to guide us. Prayer is fine, but those are two things the President could have provided himself last night. It was also disappointing that there was no focus on ocean health or any indication of how to restore it.

The good news is that we’ve seen a strong appetite amongst legislators to take positive action. There is overwhelming desire to reform MMS and the approval processes it uses. There is recognition that the current $75 million liability cap is woefully inadequate, and the legislation raising that cap has a lot of momentum. There is also strong support for establishing an ocean trust fund, paid for by oil revenues, to ensure that money is set aside for ocean conservation projects. As we dig in and push, we may find other opportunities as well.

Now, we aren’t naïve. The Senate Climate bill was on shaky ground before BP’s disaster, and despite all our wishes, is probably in worse shape now. It’s got about 40 votes and needs 20 more. As the party leader, Obama is likely reticent to force Democrats to take another controversial vote close to the election. Perhaps the rhetoric will become more insistant in the lame duck session. The President clearly wants a Climate bill passed. He simply doesn’t appear willing to put up any political capital to get it passed.

So that means if any strong action is to take place, it’s up to us. We as a community need to keep up the pressure, and continue to be vocal on the need for a National Ocean Policy, a ban on new offshore oil drilling, and yes, a strong climate bill to pass the Senate. The chances for major change are slim, but without action they are zero. Please continue to use our action alerts to send a message to the Senate and the President, and keep calling and writing personally as well. If we are going to move to a clean energy future, it will be up to us.

Date Posted: June 16, 2010 @ 6:47 am Comments Off

Imagine Healthy Oceans

Posted by: Mike Dunmyer

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John Lennon’s “Imagine” is a timeless song; beautiful and evocative.  It creates hope for a better world without conflict or hatred.  Recently I stumbled across it, and as I listened, the song brought forth a rush of emotions, all of them focused on the ocean.  All my anger and sadness over the Gulf was there, but so too was the joy I had felt swimming off the Delaware shore just an hour before.  I thought about my “Imagine” as a world with healthy, thriving oceans.  And so, with apologies to Mr. Lennon, here are a few of my lyrics:

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Imagine clean coastal water

It isn’t hard to do

Nothing flowing in and polluting

Everywhere, just blue

Imagine all sea creatures

Living life in peace…

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You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you will join us

And the world will be as one

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Imagine healthy oceans

I wonder if you can

Lots of fish and corals

All unharmed by man

Imagine all the people

Wading from the beach

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You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you will join us

And the world will live as one

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Click here to enjoy John Lennon singing “Imagine.”  What are your hopes?

Happy Oceans Day everyone.

Date Posted: June 8, 2010 @ 3:31 am Comments Off

OC Endorses Senators Leahy and Mikulski

Posted by: Mike Dunmyer

To paraphrase rapper and fashion icon Diddy, “It’s all about the Benjamins” (that are used to fund ocean conservation)!

Specifically, as we build political power for the oceans, Ocean Champions looks for candidates in positions of influence.  This includes key committee and subcommittee chairmen and chairwomen, rising stars and, of course, powerful appropriators.  The bottom line is that merely passing good ocean bills is not enough.  They must also be funded at levels that allow them to succeed.  This last, critical step only happens if there are strong ocean advocates on the Appropriations Committee.

Thus, we are proud to announce our endorsement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) for reelection.  Both Senators are senior appropriators, and both serve on the Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee (Senator Mikulski is the Chairwoman) that controls NOAA’s budget.  Fortunately, both Senators have a strong personal connection to oceans and estuaries; Senator Leahy is an avid diver, while Senator Mikulski grew up around the Chesapeake Bay, and knows how important it is to her state’s identity.  They’ve each tapped their connection to consistently support good ocean conservation projects  (To see highlights of their recent ocean conservation activity, as well as their leadership response to the BP Gulf oil spill, click the links for each Senator above).

Both Senators are outstanding representatives for their states, and the best candidates to continue serving Vermont and Maryland.  As ocean advocates in key appropriations positions, they are also the best candidates for ocean voters.

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Date Posted: June 3, 2010 @ 9:51 am Comments Off