Editorial & photos by John Streit.

Outside of sharing the stoke of surfing and love for the ocean, it’s unprecedented for me to offer a strong opinion on this website, especially when the subject matter borderlines on political. As a surfer and waterman with a deep connection to the ocean, it’s only natural that I take an intense interest in matters concerning the health of our coastal environment. After all, if the water is too polluted to enter, you can’t surf. It’s that simple.

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Local media outlets covered the BOEM scoping of the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil & Gas Leasing Program in Norfolk on Feb. 11, 2015. Photo: Streit.

Unfortunately, news broke last month that disturbed me and other environmentally-conscious individuals in our community. The Obama Administration through its Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced the opening phases of the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. In other words, Washington’s bureaucratic machine is looking at the possibility of drilling for oil and natural gas off of our beloved Mid-Atlantic coast, as well as other portions of the Southeast coast, Alaskan waters and the Gulf of Mexico.

Immediately, my mind became flooded with the obvious anecdotes as to why this is a terrible development on many levels. Environmentally speaking, we don’t have to dig too far into the recent past to see the failure of this method of energy extraction. The Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010 — more commonly known as the BP oil spill — spewed 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, making its way into the fragile coastal ecosystems and tourism-driven economies of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. The oil slick covered 68,000 square miles. The very thought of this happening off the Virginia or North Carolina coast makes me physically sick to my stomach.

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From a sustainability standpoint, the prospect of drilling for fossil fuels continues our society’s dependence on energy sources that pumps carbon dioxide our atmosphere. This is where opinion and politics separate from scientific fact: carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that really is raising our global temperatures. This warming will lead to violent swings in climate patterns that threaten to tear apart the very fabric of our civilization.

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A BOEM staffer explaining the federal government’s proposal to drill for oil and gas off the Mid-Atlantic coast to concerned citizens. Photo: Streit.

According to BEOM’s mission statement, the bureau “promotes energy independence, environmental protection and economic development through responsible, science-based management of offshore convention and renewable energy and marine mineral resources.” Conventional means oil. Economic development mean making billions of dollars through contracts made with big oil corporations. The vicious cycle continues.

If these bureaucrats took the same time and energy searching for fossil fuel sources, engineering extraction methods and holding “scoping” hearings like they did in Norfolk on Feb. 11 and applied it to harnessing the energy of the winds and/or tides, it is my belief that the United States could become a big-time player in ending our global civilization’s intoxicating dependence on the ecologically-destructive fuel sources of the past.

Missed the hearing in Norfolk? Feel from to visit http://boemoceaninfo.com (not .gov, .com, meaning “commercial”) and check out their presentation. From there, you can follow a link to drop in a comment on your feelings about the prospect of drilling for oil and gas off our beloved coast. I hope and pray that you side with scientific and rational thought with true compassion for the welfare of our children’s and their children’s generations. Feel free to jump straight to the chase and drop your comment against new offshore drilling here: http://boemoceaninfo.com/get-involved/comments/. The period for feedback lasts until March 31, 2015.

Without a doubt, it is #NotTheAnswer.

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A citizen drops their comments on the drilling proposal at the BOEM scoping hearing. Photo: Streit.

 

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