1000+ rally against offshore drilling

1000+ rally against offshore drilling

Representatives from coastal communities in the Arctic, Atlantic and Gulf gather in Washington to call on President Obama to end offshore drilling

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today more than 1,000 people gathered in front of the White House and marched to the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool to call on the Obama administration to stop offshore drilling.

This event featured speakers from Arctic, Atlantic, and Gulf Coast communities. These communities called on President Obama to build on his legacy as a climate champion by keeping the Arctic and Atlantic oceans out of not just this 5-year program but all future ones, and to end the treatment of the Gulf coast as a sacrifice zone by halting all new oil and gas leases in the region and ensuring a just transition to clean energy.

Photos from today’s action are available HERE.

The movement to stop offshore drilling has mobilized millions of Americans across the country. More than 1 million petitions have already been delivered urging the Obama administration to protect our climate, our environment, and our coastal communities by keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

This action was organized by 350.org, Alaska Wilderness League, Bold Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for International Environmental Action, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Climate First!, CREDO, Environment America, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Howard County Climate Change, Indigenous Environmental Network, Interfaith Moral Action on Climate, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, Oil Change International, Pacific Environment, Rainforest Action Network, Sierra Club, Waterkeeper Alliance, World Wildlife Fund, 350 Central Virginia, 350 Loudoun, Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy, LA Bucket Brigade, Mobile Environmental Justice Action Coalition (MEJAC), Hijra House, REDOIL, Interfaith Power and Light MD.DC.NoVA, and STEPS Coalition.

It fell at the end of a week of “keep it in the ground” actions, organized May 3-15 around the world. For more information email [email protected].

Quotes from speakers from today’s event and other advocates:

Kyle Horton, a physician from North Carolina, representing the Atlantic coast at the action: “As both a proud Atlantic beach community resident and as someone personally connected to the tragic loss of life in the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, I am proud to speak out alongside friends from the Arctic and Gulf regions to tell the Obama administration to Keep It In the Ground. The simple fact is that if offshore drilling wasn’t right for the health, safety and economic development of the Atlantic coast; it’s not right for the Gulf and Arctic either.”

Esau Sinnok, climate leader representing the Alaska delegation at the rally spoke: “My home, the island of Shishmaref, Alaska is losing 3-4 meters of land each year from climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels. At this rate, we will see the island erode completely in 25-30 years if there is no help. I hope that President Obama and other world leaders will hear my message and rise to the challenge to change how we use energy as a nation, because it is not just a political issue to me. It’s my future.”

Monique Verdin, Citizen of the United Houma Nation; resident of St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana: “When the oil tides rolled in, back in 2010, coastal communities across the Gulf witnessed the devastating gambles taken to harvest fossil fuels off our shores and in our waters. We are on the front lines, witnessing the side effects of extreme extraction, ranging from rising sea levels to tainted waters to more violent and unpredictable weather. That’s why we are calling on President Obama to refuse any new leases in his offshore drilling plan and protect the Alaskan Arctic and Gulf South waters, wildlife and ways of life. It is time we break free from fossil fuels and build the just transition to renewable and sustainable solutions,”

Earl Kingik, an Inupiaq hunter and whaling captain who spoke at the action: “I am a subsistence hunter from Point Hope and have been my whole life. I teach the younger generations that the ocean is our garden and we must respect what it provides for us. I am very concerned about how our whales and walrus and seals will react to oil and gas exploration and development in the Arctic Ocean, in our garden. Allowing development there does not respect what our garden provides to us. I fear that if we allow development activities to take place, our animals will be harmed and our future generations will not be able to subsist off of the land. I saw what happened when oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. I know that a spill like that in the Arctic could not be cleaned up. I’ve traveled to DC from the Arctic to share my story and to say loudly: there should be no further lease sales in the Arctic Ocean to protect our garden and our way of life. I am happy to be standing alongside my friends from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast who are united against offshore drilling.”

Hilton Kelley, Goldman Environmental Prize winner and Executive Director of Community In-power and Development Association: “From the beaches of southeast Texas to the wetlands of Louisiana and Mississippi, the entire Gulf–including the once vibrant economically sound fishing, crab, and oyster industry–has been devastated by oil spills. Even before the Deepwater Horizon spill, oil rigs in the Gulf spilled and leaked tons of oil into our waters, washing oil upon the shores where kids once built sand castles, played in the surf, and looked for seashells. Now those beaches are empty with only the sights and sounds of waves filled with tar and chemicals crashing on the shore. How much drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is too much? We must end this cycle and keep the oil where it belongs–in the ground.”

Cindy Shogan, Executive Director, Alaska Wilderness League: “This has been a big week for the Arctic Ocean. Big Oil has abandoned most of its leases. And thousands of people are rallying with members of frontline communities to say no to offshore development. It’s time that President Obama put the goals he set in Paris into action and protect the Arctic and our nation from the impacts of climate change. Instead of opening the Arctic to potential new drilling, the president should be working to protect it by taking any new Arctic leasing off the table for good.”

May Boeve, Executive Director, 350.org: “In the last week, ordinary people have escalated the fight against the destruction of the the fossil fuel industry by targeting the world’s most dangerous fossil fuel projects. From coal plants in Turkey and the Philippines, to mines in Germany and Australia, tens of thousands of people are putting more on the line to Break Free from fossil fuels. As a global leader on climate, President Obama must heed the calls of the the thousands rising up stop all offshore drilling.”

Ya-Sin Shabazz, Director of Programs & Development for Hijra House Association: “For me, oil companies and drilling are symbolic of the South’s economic status quo. Thus, not only does banning drilling have the potential to slow coastal erosion and improve public health, but it all opens a door for changing Mississippi’s and the Gulf region’s economic status quo.”

Anne Rolfes, Founding Director, Louisiana Bucket Brigade: “Louisiana has been dominated by Big Oil for almost a century, and over that time the industry has clearly demonstrated that making money is its priority. I am here to help our country shift away from oil and fossil fuels and the industries’ bankrupt values. It’s time to value people and our planet.”

Jennifer Crosslin, Steps Coalition: “When I wrapped my head around climate change, the threats and the root causes, I had to do something about it because the threat is real and terrifying and also because I see the opportunity to create a truly better world.  Climate change more than any other issue shows us that what harms one of us truly harms all of us, and this reality is unifying people across the globe in an unprecedented way that gives me hope that we can stop this crisis and create a more healthy, just, and equitable world as a result.”

Major Joe Womack (USMCR ret.), Vice-President Mobile Environmental Justice Action Coalition: “I am marching to stop offshore drilling because I don’t believe continued use of fossil fuel is in the best interest of the future of our planet. In addition, I have seen plans for my city, Mobile, Al., is to used as a hub to ship Tar Sands Oil throughout the world and coming through my historic community of Africatown, Al. Those plans will destroy my community.”

Ruth Ballard, Africatown resident, Cancer survivor, & MEJAC supporter: “From my perspective we don’t know enough about the hazards and the aftermath of drilling and spills. We don’t know the full extent of the damage done to human health and the Gulf community as a whole. We need to think about all the dangers before signing up for more.”

Ramsey Sprague, MEJAC President: “Other parts of the country need to own their role in relegating the Gulf South Big Oil’s corrupting political influence and the public health hazards associated with offshore drilling and related onshore oil infrastructure. If we continue giving away our land and water without accounting for the true costs, before long there won’t be any more Gulf to give.”

Colette Pichon Battle, Executive Director – Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy: “The federal government’s 5 year plan lacks the innovation and equity needed to effectively combat the global climate crisis. The Gulf has given all that we can afford to give to the nation’s dependency on extreme energy extraction. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) must think and plan beyond new drilling and start to value the people while protecting our land and our oceans.”

Emma Collin, Senior Project Manager – Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy: “Our energy system as it currently exists is not working for the people. Gulf coast folks on the frontlines of climate change know what we must do. It is time to support and follow their leadership.”

Emilia Aguinaga, Director of Programs – Gulf Coast Center & Law and Policy: “I am marching because I oppose the federal government’s 5 year plan for new offshore oil and gas leasing. As written, the plan continues to use the Gulf of Mexico as a human and environmental sacrifice zone, exacerbating social inequity and imperiling the future of the region’s rich cultures and traditions.”

Bette Billiot, Administrative Assistant to Principal Chief Thomas Dardar, United Houma Nation: “The Houma people have watched for generations as oil and gas companies have destroyed our coastal wetlands–OUR BACKYARDS–polluted our GULF and threatened our livelihoods.  We are coming together today with other coastal communities  to send a strong message that enough is enough.”

Kaydrianne Young, politica from Miami, FL: “Once again we are watching as an oil spill in the Gulf threatens our environment and our communities.  The Gulf Coast has been treated as a sacrifice zone for this country for long enough.  We are here to tell President Obama to champion bold and aggressive climate action for our communities and to protect our land and water.  It is time to stop offshore drilling for good!”

Marissa Knodel, Climate Campaigner, Friends of the Earth: “The seas are rising and so are the people. While past oil disasters still haunt the Arctic and Gulf Coast, Shell spilled another 90,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf this week. We can no longer treat our oceans and coastlines as energy sacrifice zones. No more excuses, no new offshore leases. The time to break free from fossil fuels and keep them in the ground is now.”

Catherine Kilduff, Attorney, Center for Biological Diversity: “Offshore drilling endangers our climate, wildlife, and coastal communities. That’s why it’s so important for President Obama to end not expand new leases. The climate goals he agreed to in Paris need to be met with real actions to reduce the flow of dirty fossil fuels. Ending offshore drilling would save the climate, prevent oil spills, and protect vulnerable communities on the frontlines of fossil fuel development.”

Rachel Richardson, Environment America’s Stop Drilling program director: “When you drill you spill. More offshore drilling would only worsen the climate crisis; threaten the fragile Arctic; and further harm the Gulf, which still suffers after the devastation of the BP disaster, and saw another major spill just this week. President Obama has done right by the Atlantic. Now he should finish the job by permanently protecting it and the Arctic, and initiating a just transition off fossil fuels in the Gulf.”

David Turnbull, Campaigns Director, Oil Change International: “All new offshore drilling fails the climate test, plain and simple. Our climate can’t afford offshore drilling, and our coastal communities can’t afford the inevitable spills that come with it. Even oil companies themselves are abandoning drilling in the Arctic, showing just how risky the venture is. President Obama should show real climate leadership and take offshore drilling off the table for good.”

Alex Taurel, Deputy Legislative Director, League of Conservation Voters: “President Obama removed the Atlantic leases from his five-year offshore drilling plan after wisely listening to the voices of east coast communities, businesses, and elected officials concerned about drilling’s risks to their beaches and coastal economies. Now we hope he will listen to the voices at this rally calling on him to seize this opportunity to expand his climate leadership by permanently protecting the pristine Arctic and Atlantic Oceans from drilling and by initiating a transition in the Gulf of Mexico toward 100 percent clean energy.  The fact is that our public lands and waters, such as these oceans, ought to be managed in the public’s best interest, which means not selling new leases to drill and burn oil that will make climate change worse and divert our focus away from our transition to clean energy.”


Expert contacts:
Gabby Brown, 914-261-4626
Marissa Knodel, (202) 222-0729, [email protected]

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