Denounce Approval of Atlantic Oil Exploration


Target: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Walter Cruickshank

Goal: Demand repeal of oil exploration permits that threaten endangered sea life

In a huge victory for Big Oil over environmental and animal rights concerns, the Obama administration has just approved guidelines for seismic energy exploration in the waters off the Eastern Seaboard. Oil companies may now seek permits to use compressed air guns in the Atlantic Ocean in an area that runs from Delaware all the way down to Florida. This kind of ocean activity has been banned since the 1980s, when 51 experimental holes were drilled that turned up no oil at a great ecological cost to the local marine environment.

In an environmental review conducted just prior to the approval, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) estimated that the proposed types of testing activity could harm more than 138,000 sea creatures, including endangered whales, dolphins, and sea turtles. In this kind of energy exploration, “sonic cannons” are aimed at the ocean floor, which helps identify potential oil deposits deep underground. These cannons send sound waves many times louder than a jet engine reverberating through the water every 10 seconds, often for weeks at a time with no intermission.

This intense noise pollution has the potential to permanently damage the auditory senses of all kinds of sea life, from fish and crabs all the way up to whales and dolphins. Since whales and dolphins depend on sound waves both to find food and to communicate with their family groups across long distances, interfering with or damaging their sense of hearing is essentially a death sentence. According to one scientist, “We don’t know what the physiological effects are. It could be permanent hearing damage in many of these creatures just by one encounter with a high-energy signal.”

The right to life of endangered and highly intelligent sea creatures should always trump wealthy, international corporations’ desire for easy profits. Especially in a world where climate disruption as a direct result of burning fossil fuels threatens life as we know it, we should be focusing on alternative energy, not putting more effort into finding oil deposits that are getting harder and harder to extract. Demand that the BOEM repeal the energy exploration permits for the Atlantic coast immediately and permanently.


Dear Dr. Cruickshank,

Big Oil has proven itself over and over again to be an exploitative and harmful industry with no concern for the damage that it causes either to the immediate environments in which it works or the global climate system which it is disrupting. These companies, which have been making record profits year after year, have done as little as they can get away with to minimize their environmental destruction or negative impacts on human and animal life. That they should never be trusted to work in a delicate environment around endangered species should be painfully obvious.

Besides the likely detrimental effects on the many threatened species of whale, dolphin, and sea turtle that make our Atlantic coast their home, this kind of fossil fuel exploration in a time when we desperately need to be weaning ourselves from carbon and focusing research and development money and efforts on clean, renewable energy is unconscionable. Please reconsider your approval of this archaic and self-destructive activity and join us in demanding responsible development and an end to the fossil fuel era.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Bahnfrend via Wikimedia Commons

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