Sunday, April 21, 2013

Oceana guards against drilling

A mock cleanup worker in hazmat gear treats a replica turtle as part of a demonstration against offshore oil drilling on Vaughan Mall in Portsmouth on Saturday.
PORTSMOUTH — Marking the three-year anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, Oceana and University of New Hampshire students, with local citizens, held a public demonstration on Vaughan Mall Saturday to highlight the risk of expanded offshore oil drilling to the East Coast and to call for a clean energy future.Organizers unveiled a mock oil spill with replica injured marine wildlife and cleanup workers wearing hazmat suits, to demonstrate the dangers of expanded offshore oil drilling.
"Offshore drilling is still as dirty and dangerous as it was three years ago," said Ben Hayman of Oceana, the international ocean conservation group. "We need to invest in renewable energy sources like offshore wind, rather than expanding offshore drilling into new areas like the East Coast."
Replica three-foot-tall wind turbines were set up next to the spill scene to demonstrate the juxtaposition between older, dirty energy sources and new, clean energy technology.
Participants called on President Barack Obama to reject the oil industry's request to allow seismic airgun testing for oil and gas off the Atlantic coast. Organizers said the testing is the first step in expanding drilling and a destructive process. The group said that according to the government's estimate, sound pulses emitted by seismic airgun testing would injure and possibly kill 138,500 dolphins and whales in the Atlantic. It could also displace commercially valuable marine species.
"These blasts are 100,000 times louder than a jet engine and go off every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day, for days to weeks on end," Hayman said.
Volunteers handed out fliers and stickers and promoted a petition at started by actor and Oceana spokesman Ted Danson. The petition calls on President Obama to reject seismic airgun testing. The petition will guarantee a written response from the Obama administration if it gets 100,000 online signers by May 14.
"As the primary environmental organization at UNH, we support Oceana's campaign to stop seismic airgun testing and the offshore oil drilling that will inevitably follow it," said Fiona Gettinger, UNH coordinator of the Student Environmental Action Coalition.
The event was one of more than 20 such events coordinated by Oceana nationwide this month to mark the third anniversary of the BP oil spill and to call attention to seismic airgun testing in the Atlantic.