As surfers who consider the ocean a sacred place, the 2012 US Presidential debate has been frustrating. Coastal drilling is a hot topic in this election, as both the Democratic and Republican candidates agree that the country is too dependent on foreign oil with plans to increase domestic production. Surfers in Huntington Beach and Santa Barbara, California already see how the landscape has changed since drilling increased on their coasts, black tar making its mark on surfboards and our own two feet, with even more devastating effects on sea life. On land, the rocked economy is struggling from high unemployment and soaring prices at the pump, with San Diego County reporting its most expensive price per barrel ever.
The war between America’s dependence on the automobile and its inability to produce even a fraction of its energy use will be one of many issues on the table during the US election. The debate has opened a dialogue with international mass media on the pressing issues as voters determine their stance going into the November 6th, 2012 Presidential Election.
After the second 2012 Presidential debate, the Scientific American reported, “Climate Change A No Show at Presedential Debate, But Candidates Clash On Energy.” While gas prices continue to rise nationwide, American citizens are bleeding their pockets at the pump and wondering where to turn. A short fix of drilling our coastline may help balance budgets, but some deep ocean drilling – such as hydrolic fracking – can be detrimental to the ocean’s ecosystem and adversely effect marine life, linked to severe instances of water and air pollution and other environmental harm.
Jim Moriarty, President and CEO of the Surfrider Foundation – a grassroots movement dedicated to preserving the world’s coastal ecosystems – published the following message on The Inertia as “A Call to Romney and Obama” to protect our oceans:
“As citizens involved with our seas, we call on and expect the next President of the United States to support our nation’s ocean based economy and assure the sound stewardship of our coasts and ocean. Our nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone, stretching 200 miles out from our shores, is the largest in the world, a blue frontier more extensive than our continental landmass. With increased scientific knowledge and understanding of this, our nation’s second great frontier, comes both an opportunity and a responsibility to restore the blue in our red, white and blue… protection of coastal communities and ocean-dependent jobs, the marine environment and America’s maritime heritage has long been a bipartisan goal…” Read more.
The Surfrider Foundation believes environmental education is essential to the future health and well-being of the planet. They are also dedicated to enhancing wave-riding opportunities in ways which will not adversely impact nearshore ecosystems. Surfrider promotes the right of low-impact, free and open access to the world’s waves and beaches for all people, and recognizes the biodiversity and ecological integrity of the planet’s coasts as necessary and irreplaceable. Read up on Surfrider’s environmental policies, here.
Both candidates consider oil drilling necessary to reduce US dependence on foreign resources. Governor Mitt Romney accused President Barack Obama of being responsible for rising gasoline prices and reduced access to public lands for oil production, and being disingenuous about supporting fossil fuels. Oil production, gas prices, and renewable energy are hot topics in this election.
“The Obama Administration’s policies just do not work,” Romney stated. He strives for energy independence within eight years, suggesting that jobs are going to come back with his plan. “More drilling, more energy production… good jobs back to the middle class of America,” Romney stated.
Obama came back with, “We have a choice to make. We can remain one of the world’s leading importers of foreign oil, or we can make the investments that would allow us to become the world’s leading exporter of renewable energy. We can let climate change continue to go unchecked, or we can help stop it.”
Obama has sharply raised federal standards for fuel efficiency of cars and light trucks, while Romney opposes the fuel efficiency standards. Romney is of the opinion wherein the solution to our environmental problem lies in adopting a market approach. Romney stated his goal of loosening environmental protections to help business. While solving the environmental challenges, “we should also be supporting growth,” he said.
Energy independence is Romney’s focus for America’s future, with desires to open all federal lands and waters for drilling, including the entire Pacific and Atlantic coasts. He believes the nation will also need to develop and harness alternate sources of energy such as nuclear energy, biodiesel, ethanol along with exploiting more domestic sources of oil such as Outer Continental Shelf and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Romney believes that rather than establishing mandates, the United States should harness its power of innovation to enhance the alternative energy sources and discover innovative technologies that will help use the energy more efficiently. He desires to keep tax incentives and tax breaks for oil and gas drilling. These amount to about $4 billion a year.
The coal industry has also been a focus of Romney’s debates as a target sector for job growth. Democratic candidate Obama is working towards reducing the carbon pollution which he sees as a threat to our climate and will perpetuate the dependence on fossil fuels. Obama policies include imposing stringent measures on carbon polluters.
“We’ve been talking about climate change in Washington for years and energy independence and efficiency for years,” Obama said. “But no matter how many scientists testified about greenhouse gases, no matter how much evidence that they’re threatening our coasts and endangering our weather patterns, nothing happened with global warming until now.”
While biking to your surf break may sound like the best option to reduce your own dependency on oil and your carbon footprint, another action to capitalize on as an American citizen is to GO VOTE in the 2012 Presidential Election on November 6th, with mail-in voters already busy sending in their ballots. Register to vote, here.
Do your homework, make an informed decision and make a difference with the power of your VOTE. Read through the all the issues carefully to assess and conjure your own opinion, and definitely do your research elsewhere to learn more from various sources. Make sure to take advantage of your right to vote and GET TO THE POLLS!
*In the state of California, the deadline to register to vote for any election is 15 days before Election Day.