12 • 19 • 2016
On December 20th, 2016, President Obama announced permanent ‘withdrawal’ of parts of the Atlantic and Arctic Ocean from future oil and gas drilling. The move protects critical ecological areas off the Atlantic coast (see map below) along with most of the Chukchie and Beaufort Seas in the Arctic.
The Surfrider Foundation released the following statement from CEO Dr. Chad Nelsen in response to the annoucment:
“The Surfrider Foundation applauds President Obama’s decision to protect parts of the Atlantic and Arctic from future oil and gas development. Offshore drilling is a dangerous and polluting activity that puts our coastal economies and natural resources at risk. Today’s announcement is a testament to the hundreds of communities, thousands of businesses, and millions of citizens who spoke out against oil drilling off our coastlines.”
Over the past two years, the Surfrider Foundation’s chapter network worked with partners to help pass over 120 local government resolutions against offshore drilling and seismic testing in the Atlantic. In February, the Surfrider Foundation and a delegation of coastal recreation industry leaders met with White House staff and Abigail Hopper, Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), to deliver over 1000 signatures from coastal businesses in opposition to offshore drilling in the Atlantic.
This grassroots opposition helped compel the Obama Administration to cancel plans to allow oil drilling off the Mid- and South Atlantic coast. The decision became official in early December when the Administration released its final 5 Year Offshore Drilling Plan, which protects not only the Atlantic, but also the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, West Coast and Arctic Ocean from oil and gas leasing for 2017-2022.
Today’s announcement by the Obama Administration is an enormous conservation victory that will permanently protect key ocean habitats from oil and gas development; however, there is still much work to be done to protect remaining areas in the Atlantic from new offshore drilling and related seismic blasting in the coming years.
Read the official Dept of Interior announcement here