The new year has brought new threats to the Atlantic ocean and its coasts. In January 2018, the Department of the Interior released its draft of the five-year 2019-2024 National Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program, which is developed by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and previously protected the Atlantic and Pacific oceans from offshore drilling. Under the Trump administration, the 2019-2024 Draft Proposed Plan (DPP) reversesprevious protections and allows BOEM to consider the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans, as well as Florida’s Gulf Coast, for future oil and gas leasing, threatening our waters, our shorelines, and our horizons. Oceana is on a mission to stop that.
Oceana Virginia was one of several organizations present at the 5th Annual Virginia Green Travel Conference and Travel Star Awards on March 1st and 2nd at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. The conference, which hosted other organizations such as the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter, Lynnhaven River Now, Keep It Beachy Clean, and TerraCycle, featured interactive discussions, workshops, and panel sessions on topics including, but not limited to, climate change and its impacts on tourism, career opportunities in green tourism, greening of events, and taking Virginia green local.
Oceana Virginia was also one of two organizations opposing offshore drilling at the Blue Planet Forum, presented by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, on March 5th. The forum, which was hosted by Old Dominion University and took place at the university’s Ted Constant Center, addressed offshore drilling and its impacts to the coast of Virginia and our neighboring states. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam was a special guest and featured speaker at the forum, where he strongly opposed bringing drilling to the coasts of Virginia. Speakers also included Chesapeake Bay Foundation president Will Baker, City of Norfolk Councilmember Andria McClellan, Professor and President Emeritus University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Don Boesch, Ph.D., and Goldkey PHR Chief Executive Officer Bruce Thompson. This event was part of a public comment period and included an in-depth q&a session. Roughly 400 people attended the forum, with approximately 200 people signing-on to oppose offshore drilling.
May 19, 2018 was a big day for ocean activism! Hands Across the Sand, a worldwide, annual event that was started after the 2010 BP oil spill, took place and had several stops in Virginia. Locally, crowds gathered in Virginia Beach off of 25th street to join hands and form a symbolic barrier against offshore drilling and its impacts. Oceana was joined in attendance by the Surfrider Foundation Virginia Beach chapter and the Sierra Club Virginia chapter. According to the Hands Across the Sand website, 124 events were organized around the world this year, which included 18 states and seven countries!
Although the public comment period to oppose offshore drilling has ended, you can still add your name today; Tell President Trump and Secretary Zinke: No New Offshore Drilling!