President Trump announced plans to open up offshore oil and gas drilling in nearly all U.S. coastal waters. He also wants to resume seismic testing, which is a way to search for oil using air gun blasts to map the subterranean ocean floor.

Air gun blasting is harmful to marine life. It is particularly disruptive to whales and dolphins, which rely on echolocation for communication and hunting for food.

A bipartisan group of governors and senators from states that line both coasts are vehemently opposed to oil and gas drilling off their shores. The unified bipartisan opposition is obvious.

Coastal economies are based on fishing, tourism and recreation. On the East Coast alone, these businesses create 1.4 million jobs and $95 billion in annual gross domestic product.

Should a spill occur, it would devastate the economy, costing millions if not billions of dollars in cleanup costs and lost revenue. Also, potential disaster, such as the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which killed 11 people and injured 17, puts people’s lives and livelihoods in jeopardy.

In the event of an oil spill, ocean currents will spread crude oil far and wide, washing it up onto beaches. Tides will carry the oil into the back bays and through the wetlands. Wetlands serve as nurseries for many species of sharks, fish, marine and other wildlife.

The organic material that comes from the marsh is the very beginning of the marine life food chain. Oil permeating into these areas would be an ecological disaster effecting breeding sites and destroying wildlife habitat for a very long time.

Former Gov. Christie and governors of other coastal states have opposed offshore drilling. They realize that an oil spill would destroy an area’s economy for years.

If you feel the same way about having oil wells off the coast, then your representatives need to hear from you. Write or email them to let them know you are against offshore drilling and seismic testing. Surfrider Foundation South Jersey has a link on its website, southjersey.surfrider.org, for contacting local officials. There is also a letter coastal businesses can sign stating their opposition.

On Feb. 14 there will be an open house public hearing about the proposed plan. It is scheduled for 3-7 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn, 800 U.S. Highway 130 in Hamilton, Mercer County. More information is available at southjersey.surfrider.org.

You can read and comment on the proposed drilling plan by visiting regulations.gov and searching for BOEM-2017-0074-0001. Comments must be submitted by March 9. Make your voice heard. Help protect our coasts.

Sustainable Downbeach is working toward creating a healthier, friendlier community with an eye on protecting the environment. For information or to get involved see Sustainable Downbeach on Facebook.

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Contact: 609-601-5196 

nanette.galloway@shorenewstoday.com 

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