California Must Protect its Beaches

In Latest News, Opinion by The Point Staff

It is no secret that many of us came to Point Loma because of its proximity to the Pacific Ocean. People are drawn to the ocean.

I spent my entire life watching tourists flock from all across the United States and the world to visit southern California’s beaches. As a coastal community, we depend on the health of the ocean. Unfortunately, that is now at risk.

The U.S. Department of the Interior recently announced the biggest offshore drilling proposal in U.S. history. If passed, it will leave only 2% of American coast protected. Areas on the east and west coasts alike that have been closed to offshore drilling for decades would become open for drilling.

There has been one small change to the original proposal, however. Florida Governor Rick Scott requested to meet with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to discuss this plan and “the crucial need to remove Florida from consideration.” Scott and Zinke were wise enough to recognize the economic dependence Florida has on its beaches. Scott obviously does not want to risk everything by working with an industry that threatens to destroy them for significantly fewer jobs and money.

For the same reasons, governors of other coastal states like North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland, Oregon, and California have explicitly opposed drilling off of their coast.

The Department of the Interior’s slogan is “Protecting America’s Great Outdoors and Powering Our Future.”

In the best-case scenario, targeted reserves in the Atlantic will provide six months of oil at our current national rate of consumption. Studies show that in places like North Carolina, offshore wind power alone can provide twice as many jobs as oil and 130% of the state’s energy needs. Despite this, the department “Protecting America’s Great Outdoors and Powering Our Future” remains focused on oil.

There are hundreds of communities just like us in the United States, and in each one of those communities there are people whose lives depend on the work the ocean provides. One oil spill would destroy everything for them.

We all remember the devastation that occurred during BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill. 1,313 miles of American coastline were damaged then. To put that into perspective: California only has 840 miles of coastline. Haven’t we learned anything?

Offshore drilling is not a gift to the American people or to our economy. It is a gift to Big Oil, and communities like Point Loma are covering the bill.

Co-chair of the Outer Banks Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation Matt Walker put it this way: “The politicians who say they want to do this–the industry execs who say they want to do this–don’t have to worry about not eating when things go wrong. They will still get a paycheck. They won’t wait five years like BP. They won’t wait 18 years like the Valdez. They will go back to work and not have to worry about it. People on the coast will have a very long, difficult and painful situation to deal with.”

Cameron Catanzano is a sophomore majoring in managerial and organizational communication.

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