There is no contesting the fact that oil spills cause catastrophic damage. The BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010, one of the worst environmental catastrophes in U.S. history, released 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. It killed or injured more than 115,000 birds, sea turtles and marine mammals. Even five years later several popular beaches and fishing spots were still being restored and tens of thousands of people were still waiting for BP to review their claims. Last May at least 140,000 gallons of crude oil were spilled into the Pacific Ocean near Santa Barbara, California right before Memorial Day Weekend, which typically draws 25,000 daily visitors to the area who spend $4 million.
Thankfully, coastal communities in the U.S. have been protected for decades from new offshore oil drilling. But that could change soon. For the first time in over 30 years, the Obama Administration is planning to allow oil drilling in areas of the Atlantic Ocean as part of the 2017-2022 leasing plan. This plan will put much of the Eastern coastline at risk, including Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. The scale of the threat to our economy, quality of life and health of the environment are difficult to comprehend.