Back in August, following the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, the Surfrider Foundation joined our coalition in sending a letter to both the Clinton and Trump campaigns asking what they would do to protect the coast and ocean. The driver was simple: in a media-saturated race with 24-hour news coverage, virtually no discussion had taken place on ocean issues.
The Clinton campaign provided its response in a matter of weeks. The Trump campaign never did provide a response to our query. However, on November 8, the political landscape shifted as the voters of our great nation elected Donald J. Trump as our next President. Since then, President-Elect Trump has released his plan for his first 100 days in office, which reveals several adverse positions that, if implemented, could deal striking blows to coastal protection.
Based on Trump’s campaign statements and information on his website, here are some of the threats we can expect in the next four years:
- Weakening of environmental laws that protect our ocean and coasts
- Proposals for new offshore drilling, oil terminals, and pipelines
- Withdrawal from the Paris agreements to address climate change
- Reduced funding for natural resource agencies
- Elimination of EPA’s ‘Clean Water Rule’ that protects water quality
- Rollback of the National Ocean Policy and related initiatives
- Proposals for coastal engineering projects and other infrastructure
For those of us who share a passion for our coasts, this is disheartening news to say the least. But, in the face of such challenges, the Surfrider Foundation is ready to stand up and defend our coastlines in the next four years. Here are Surfrider's top priorities for the next year and beyond.
1) Stop new offshore oil drilling off U.S. coastlines
For decades, the Surfrider Foundation has successfully protected the Atlantic, Pacific, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico from oil and gas development. Now, with proposals for new offshore drilling, we are doubling down on our efforts to ensure that new oil rigs will never be approved in U.S. waters. We will continue to pass local government resolutions that demand our federal government protect our coastlines from offshore drilling and seismic testing. We will lead Hands Across the Sand and other events and rallies to educate communities about the dangers of offshore drilling. Finally, we will take our message to Washington D.C. and meet with over 50 congressional offices this spring to ensure that our voice is heard at the highest levels of government.
2) Defend our nation's environmental laws that protect the coast
As the Administration and Congress move forward with efforts to weaken our environmental laws, Surfrider's grassroots network will stand up to defend our coasts and ocean from these attacks. Surfrider will continue to fight for the BEACH Act - a bill we helped pass in 2000 - to protect the public health of beachgoers. We will work with a diverse coalition to defend EPA's Clean Water Rule that protects water quality of streams, lakes, and ocean. We will work to advance the National Ocean Policy at the regional and local level even if it is rolled back by the Administration. We will fight to protect standards for coastal preservation in the Water Resources Development Act, climate change policy and other laws. Finally, our network will participate in project permitting from coast to coast to ensure that existing environmental protections are fully exercised in the review of proposed development.
3) Grow the coastal advocacy movement to meet the challenges of a new era
Surfrider knows how to defend our coastlines. We've already won 45 victories this year - a record in Surfrider’s storied history - and we’re not done. But the threats on the horizon demand that we expand upon Surfrider's network of more than 80 chapters, 60 youth clubs, and 500,000 supporters, activists and members. In the coming year, we will grow our coalition of thousands of recreational businesses and groups that are engaged in Surfrider advocacy from coast to coast. Our chapters, meanwhile, will continue to define a new path to coastal stewardship through partnership building and outreach in their communities. Surfrider believes that the issues we fight for – clean water, ocean health, coastal access – are not partisan issues but priorities that should be embraced by all community interests.
In a time of political division, Surfrider’s grassroots approach is exactly what’s needed to protect our coasts for now and the future!