Assateague Coastal Trust (ACT) is celebrating today with its members and supporters after the historic announcement by the Obama Administration that the Mid-Atlantic region of the Atlantic coast will not be threatened by oil and gas development.
“This announcement is the result of an enormous effort by our coastal communities to organize and speak out loud and clear against this threat to our coastal natural resources,” said Matt Heim, ACT Offshore Oil Campaign Outreach Coordinator. “It truly is inspiring to see the impact citizen’s voices can have. We played a huge role in this decision here locally. The united opposition on Delmarva, including the 9 resolutions opposing offshore oil and gas development in the Atlantic passed by local communities, were crucial in removing the waters off Virginia’s coast from the leasing program. I can’t help but smile when I think about all the people who came together and all the work that went in to making this day a reality.”
Of particular concern to the coastal economy of Delmarva is the use of seismic air-guns which are used to map the seafloor for oil and gas deposits. Studies have shown dramatic drops in harvests in fisheries where seismic air-guns have been employed and there also is a concern about the impact to marine mammals who heavily rely on sound for communication. The decision to bar the Atlantic from offshore drilling does not stop the prospect of seismic air-guns being used off Delmarva’s coast, but it does seriously call into question the need for such surveys and environmentalists are hopeful that threat will soon dissipate as well.
ACT Executive Director and Assateague COASTKEEPER, Kathy Phillips added, “All of our oceans and coastal watersheds deserve this same level of protection. We must find a way to stop extracting fossil fuels from the earth and instead turn our full attention to developing sustainable energy production that does not increase our carbon footprint. Only in this way can we diminish sea level rise and decrease impacts from climate change. ”
More information about the BOEM offshore oil leasing program, and information about seismic blasting oil exploration can be found at www.ActForBays.org