Thank Congress for standing up to Big Oil! - Waterkeeper

Thank Congress for standing up to Big Oil!

By: Chris Wilke

In late April, sixteen Members of Congress joined together to take a stand against Big Oil and proposed offshore drilling in the waters of The Bahamas, in an area directly upwind, up-current, and adjacent to Miami.

Now, more than ever, we need to see leadership like this. Please support their stance by thanking them for writing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the U.S. Embassy in The Bahamas. 

The letter submitted by the Members of Congress was in response to a current proposal by Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) to drill up to four oil wells in the western Bahamas near the coast of Florida, placing the islands of The Bahamas, the Florida Keys, and the entire eastern coast of Florida at risk. If the proposal is approved, BPC could begin drilling as soon as this fall, during hurricane season—something it promised not to do during the planning process. The rigs would be built by crews and equipment based in the U.S., doing little for The Bahamas economy and risking the health of the entire region. 

This spring marks the 10th anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Disaster, one of the worst environmental disasters in history. We must learn from the past and not repeat our mistakes. There is a worldwide oil glut and record low prices. We do not need this oil. Let’s not risk community health or place these pristine coral islands at risk, along with their abundant fish and dolphins, supported by one of the largest coral reefs in the world. And let’s not threaten the beaches of the Eastern U.S., just a few dozen miles downstream.

The low-lying islands and sensitive coral reefs of The Bahamas are already being impacted by climate change, sea-level rise, and superstorms.  We should be transitioning to clean and safe renewable energy instead of drilling for more oil and forcing the places most affected to deal with the consequences.

Take action and thank these Members of Congress for taking a stand.

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Your letter will be sent to: Debbie Wasserman Schultz, FL-23; Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, FL-26; Kathy Castor, FL-14; Matt Gaetz, FL-01; Donna E. Shalala, FL-27; Lois Frankel, FL-21; Darren Soto, FL-09; Charlie Crist, FL-13; Theodore E. Deutch, FL-22; Francis Rooney, Fl-19; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, NY-14; Alcee L. Hastings, FL-20; David E. Price, NC-04; Tom Malinowski, NJ-07; Al Lawson, FL-05; and Christopher H. Smith, NJ-04.

Dear Members of Congress,

I am writing to thank you for your strong joint letter on April 17, 2020 to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Stephanie Bowers, Chargée d’Affairs at the United States Embassy in The Bahamas. I applaud you for taking this step to oppose offshore oil drilling in the sensitive waters of The Bahamas and adjacent to the Eastern United States. And I ask that you keep up the pressure on the U.S. State Department to help the government of The Bahamas say no to this risky enterprise.

In your letter, you correctly stated the significant risks posed by offshore drilling in Bahamian waters off the coast of Florida. The oil drilling site is just 150 miles directly upwind and up-current from Floridian beaches. And as you know, a significant or catastrophic spill would devastate Florida waters and severely impact other parts of the Atlantic and Southeastern United States, placing our coastal communities, beaches, and fisheries at risk.

Even without a catastrophic spill, we know that smaller oil spills, toxic discharges, and seismic disruption still occur from deepwater drilling, and this risky enterprise will have significant impacts on water quality, fisheries, marine mammals, and our climate. The United States should be helping the Bahamian government’s transition to clean energy and promoting sustainable fishing and tourism to build their economy, not assisting with foolish offshore drilling that places our two countries at risk.

Thank you for your leadership, and please continue to protect our shores from offshore oil drilling. We will be there with you.

Feature image of The Bahamas from above by BlueOrange Studio/Shutterstock.

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