Gas is cheap. America is pumping more domestic oil than at any time in the last 30 years. But two newly released science reports have reached disturbing conclusions. One in the journal Science states human activities threaten mass-extinction of marine life in the ocean, the other in the journal Nature tells us that to avoid the most catastrophic effects of fossil fuel fired climate disruption we need to leave a third of the world’s known petroleum reserves in the ground and under the seabed.
How then can it be, during the 5th anniversary of the catastrophic BP oil blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, that the Obama administration has filed a 5-year drilling plan that could open up much of the populous Atlantic seaboard, along with the remote U.S. Arctic Ocean, to offshore drilling beginning in 2017? Especially when so much energy is wasted daily.
Along with the climate and pollution threats, environmentalists and animal rights activists are also concerned about the high-volume sonic cannons used to survey for oil. Typically these “air guns” emit ocean bottom penetrating sonic waves louder than dynamite explosions every 10 seconds for days or sometimes weeks at a time depending on the scope of the area being investigated. With much of the Atlantic’s offshore waters being opened for potential oil exploration, including marine mammal migration routes, these surveys ― that would take place between now and the proposed lease sales in 2017 ― threaten the death or impairment of the nation’s 450 remaining endangered species of right whales, also orcas, dolphins and other wildlife. The government itself estimates the surveys could result in the “take” (meaning anything from disturbance to deafening to death) of 138,000 marine mammals. Fish including edible commercial species, can also be impacted by this type of oceanic noise pollution, which is why commercial and recreational fishermen are some of the most outspoken opponents of the proposed new drilling. But they’re not the only citizen voices being ignored as reflected by thousands of coastal citizens who have already turned out in opposition.