Rep. Cunningham Introduces Bill Banning Offshore Drilling on the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts

cunningham.house.gov

The Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act would permanently ban oil and gas leasing off the coast of the Pacific and Atlantic

Washington, D.C. – Keeping his promise to make sure there is never offshore drilling on South Carolina’s coastline, today Rep. Joe Cunningham introduced the Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act. This bipartisan legislation would permanently ban oil and gas leasing off the coast of the Pacific and Atlantic.

“I’ve been clear from the very beginning that our beaches, businesses, and way of life should not be for sale. South Carolinians want nothing to do with offshore drilling and the devastating threat it poses to our vibrant natural resources,” said Congressman Joe Cunningham. “I am proud to have the support of a bipartisan group of lawmakers, advocates, and organizations up and down South Carolina and across both the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines. It’s an honor to have the opportunity to lead this bipartisan bill across the finish line to ban offshore drilling off our coast once and for all.”

“The Administration is trying to further oil and gas interests at an alarming rate, including major expansions of offshore drilling in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. This is nothing more than a hand-out to the oil and gas industries and runs counter to health, safety, and environmental safeguards we know must be in place to protect our coastlines. These actions also run counter to the will of the citizens in these coastal communities. I am proud to join with my colleagues in making it perfectly clear to this Administration – there will be no new drilling off our coasts,” said Rep. Alan Lowenthal.

“The Trump administration’s drill-everywhere plan has run into a wave of public opposition. Americans from coast to coast have made it very clear that they do not want to see more oil rigs in their oceans,” said Rep. Jared Huffman. “The Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act will halt Trump’s oil and gas drilling spree in its tracks, protecting coastal communities and fragile ecosystems from environmental catastrophe. In California, we know that our coastal economies would be placed at unacceptable risk by offshore oil and gas drilling, which threatens the tourism, recreation, and fishing industries. I’m glad to work together with Joe Cunningham on this ongoing effort to block offshore drilling on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and to shield both of our coastlines from dangerous exploitation.”

“From Congress to the Governor’s mansion to City Council chambers, bipartisan leaders across South Carolina have said time and time again they oppose drilling off our coast. Now Congressman Cunningham is leading the charge in Congress to ensure this threat never comes to be,” said John Tynan, Executive Director of Conservation Voters of South Carolina. “Voters in the Palmetto State have told their elected leaders to prevent drilling off our coast, and we’re proud to stand beside Congressman Cunningham as he leads the way in the fight to protect our coastline, tourism economy, and quality of life.”

“This smart measure responds to communities and leaders all along our Atlantic and Pacific coasts who strongly oppose offshore drilling. It would protect those coastal waters and wildlife from the risks of another BP-style disaster, as well as industrial ruin and ongoing harm. This bill deserves the support of everyone who cares about healthy oceans, marine life, our coastal economies and all they support”, said Alexandra Adams, Legislative Director, Nature Program, Natural Resources Defense Council.

https://cunningham.house.gov/media/press-releases/rep-cunningham-introduces-bill-banning-offshore-drilling-atlantic-and-pacific

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Oil Leak In Solomon Islands Potentially Wreaking Havoc On World’s Largest Raised Coral Atoll – Sea Voice News

seavoicenews.com

by Alex Larson

An environmental crisis continues in the Solomon Islands as for more than month, a cargo ship off the coast of Rennell Island in the Kangava Bay has been leaking oil into the waters. This site also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage site as it is the world’s largest raised coral atoll.

The ship, a 740-foot-long ship called the Solomon Trader ran aground on February 5, 2019 where it was carrying more than 700 metric tons of oil according the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said Tuesday. So far, CNN affiliate Radio NZ has reported that the wreck has released more than 100 tons of oil into the sea that holds one of the most important coral atolls in the world.

While a large amount of the oil still remains in the ship, there is a high risk that the remaining oil on board could leak into the sea. According to the DFAT, the oil had spread about three and half miles and has begun to wash up onshore.

Speaking to the New York Times, Simon Albert, a marine ecologist at the University of Queensland explained that the spill is likely to cause long therm damage to the coral and local ecosystem.

When coral comes in contact with oil, it can either kill the coral polyps direct or significantly impact reproduction, growth, and behavior over the a long period of time. What this means is that this coral, which is already struggling to survive due to bleaching events and ocean acidification, will be impacted for generations of coral to come.

While the future will be problematic, there are already environmental impacts occurring according to Radio NZ. Loti Yates, the director of the Solomon Islands Disaster Management Office, told them that dead fish have been washing up on beaches.

“There are dead fish and crabs and all that,” Yates said. “The fumes that is coming out from the oil is also affecting communities and I just had a report it’s also impacting on the chicken and birds.”

The site is the largest raised coral atoll in the world, according to UNESCO, which said in a statement this week the leak is taking place just outside the World Heritage site.

The ship ran aground when it was attempting to load cargo of bauxite in the Solomon Island when Cyclone Oma pushed in into a reef. The ship is based out of Hong-Kong and insured by a Korean company.

Thus far, the company attempted to try and use a tugboat to move the ship but this only made matters worse as it pushed it further into the reef. Since then, Australian officials are supporting the Solomon Islands in efforts to mitigate ecological damage. The DFAT said the Australian government has deployed special equipment and an eight-person response crew from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

The companies are now working on transferring the remaining 600 metric tons of fuel oil on the ship to different tanks which will be pumped onto a separate barge that is en route.

They’ve also started deploying oil spill booms to contain the spread, and have begun cleaning along the shoreline, the statement said.

http://seavoicenews.com/2019/03/12/oil-leak-in-solomon-islands-potentially-wreaking-havoc-on-worlds-largest-raised-coral-atoll/

New Florida Governor To Implement Major Water Reforms With Billions Of Dollars – Sea Voice News

seavoicenews.com
by Alex Larson

Florida is facing one of the countries biggest crisis as their water quality continues to grow worse and worse. And finally, after eight years of hopelessly waiting, the new governor plans to take the state’s water quality seriously and put some real money towards the problem.

Ron Desantis announced the move while the state of Florida is still seeing the effects of one of their worst red tide blooms on record. The move is a multifaceted executive order on water policy vastly different from the new governors predecessor. On top of that, Desantis also fired the entire board of the South Florida Water Management after they have failed to protect the states water.

The plan includes to spend $2.5 billion to restore the Everglades and protect its water, a blue-green algae task force, creating a chief science officer position, phasing out septic tanks, putting teeth in environmental crime enforcement and creating an office of resilience and coastal protection to fund and coordinate response to rising sea levels.

While Desantis is known for being a very conservative Republican, the positive conservation steps forward are a stark difference from the previous administration whom banned state employees from using the words climate change or global warming in official communication.

DeSantis called his executive order the “most comprehensive, boldest actions that we have seen in Florida in a long time. … We can solve a lot of these problems, but it has got to begin now.”

Sierra Club Florida Chapter Director Frank Jackalone said DeSantis in his first week “has done more to address Florida’s water quality crisis than (former) Gov. Rick Scott did in eight years.”

But Jackalone said concerns remain over a “poorly designed” Everglades-area reservoir and the lack of a direct mention of climate change in DeSantis’ order. Also, he said more details are needed about the order’s stated opposition to offshore oil and gas drilling and opposition to the controversial drilling process known as fracking.

DeSantis, who campaigned as a critic of the Big Sugar farmers, said he is working with the White House and U.S. Army Corps to end the massive water releases from Lake Okeechobee. Residents living along the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries have blamed the discharges of polluted water from the lake for toxic algae outbreaks which has caused some of the biggest algae blooms to waterways and coastal waters.

While Desantis failed to mention anything about climate change, he did say the state needs to be “ahead of the curve” on increased flooding and rising waters, which will be a job of the Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection.

http://seavoicenews.com/2019/01/14/new-florida-governor-to-implement-major-water-reforms-with-billions-of-dollars/

Ireland To Task Fishing Industry In Assisting To Clean Up The Oceans – Sea Voice News

seavoicenews.com

by Alex Larson

To clean the oceans of all the plastic waste, humans will need to get ingenuitive in their attempt to clean up the ocean and much more important, in how to prevent it.

While finding an alternative to plastic that is practical to replicate on such a large scale has been a challenge, many people across the world are doing what they can to try and clean up the plastic that is in the sea.

Now, Irish fishing trawlers will be used to remove plastic waste from the oceans by the end of 2019, according to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.

Creed called for all trawlers to get involved in the Clean Oceans Initiative by the end of this year.

“A coordinated action is required,” he said, “to address the serious issue of pollution of the Oceans with plastics.”

Fishing ports, harbours and piers all need to get involved, said Creed, and added that he hoped the industry would build on the work it had been doing voluntarily to date.

With an estimated 15-51 trillion pieces of plastic already estimated to be in the ocean today, that number will only grow at a rapid pace in the future. By 2050, plastic pollution is estimated to outweigh all fish in the ocean.

Plastic also harms the marine life and the very fish stocks that fisherman make a living in, are being impacted severely.

The plan for Irish fisherman is to actively remove garbage, plastic and man-made debris everyday, “as they go about their activity at sea”, according to Creed.

A Department of Agriculture statement said that those working in the fishing industry shared concerns about the plastics issue.

“Our fishing vessels are towing nets through the waters around our coast on a daily basis and often find debris, including waste plastics, when the nets are hauled,” said the statement.

With the hope that fisherman will be bringing home a lot of garbage after each trip out at sea, the Minister is making funding available under Ireland’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), to provide storage facilities on board vessels.

The funding will also be used for “on-shore infrastructure for environmentally friendly disposal of all plastics, waste, ghost fishing gear, etc. recovered at sea.”

The Seafood Development Agency will be tasked with putting together a team of stakeholders which will include fishermen, fish farmers, net makers, harbor authorities, fish processors, community groups, Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs), academics and NGOs to determine the best methods of prevention and removal.

This would also include a wider outreach to coastal communities, asking people to report back at the end of the year with more proposals for solutions for the removal and prevention of plastics in the future.

http://seavoicenews.com/2019/01/15/ireland-to-task-fishing-industry-in-assisting-to-clean-up-the-oceans/

Florida To Introduce Bill That Would Ban Smoking On Public Beaches – Sea Voice News

seavoicenews.com
by Alex Larson →

A new bill has been introduced that aims to reduce cigarettes on Florida beaches. Sarasota House Republican Joe Gruters is looking for the state to bank smoking on all public beaches through bill SB218, which would fine first-time violators $25 or 10 hours of community service.

If Florida passes the bill, it would go into effect July 1st, 2019.

The bill may face potential problems as this isn’t the first time representatives have tried to restrict smoking on beaches in Florida. In 2017, a law that was in place for five years and banned smoking in Sarasota County public parks and beaches was tossed out by a judge whom declared it unconstitutional on the grounds that local jurisdictions couldn’t ban something that was legal on a state level.

Hopefully though, with the potential ban being state wide this time, there will not be another loop-hole that would allow the bill to be thrown out if it does get through the legislatures.

Florida would not be the only state with this ban in place as New Jersey recently banned smoking in public beaches which carries a fine of $250.00

Cigarette butt continue to be the largest single polluter in the ocean damaging habitats, poisoning fish and costing tax dollars for cleanup and disposal, according to environmental experts.

Outside of direct pollution on the beach, cigarettes make their way to the sea due to countless storm drains, streams and rivers around the world. The waste often disintegrates into microplastics easily consumed by wildlife. Researchers have found the detritus in some 70 percent of seabirds and 30 percent of sea turtles.

As Florida holds some of the most visited and popular beaches in the world, banning smoking would be a huge win in helping to contain ocean pollution.

http://seavoicenews.com/2019/01/03/florida-to-introduce-bill-that-would-ban-smoking-on-public-beaches/

Oil Tanker Fire Near Hong Kong Kills 1, Potential Spill Could Threaten Endangered Turtles and Dolphins

ecowatch.com
By Olivia Rosane

A rescue boat races to the scene of an oil tanker fire off the Hong Kong coast Tuesday. Hong Shaokui / China News Service / VCG via Getty Images

An oil tanker caught fire off of Hong Kong’s Lamma Island Tuesday morning, leaving one person dead and two missing.

“We could see that the victim who passed away had been burned,” police representative Wong Wai-hang said in a briefing reported by The New York Times. “There were clear injuries on his head and fractures in his hands and feet.”

An additional 23 crew members were rescued from the water. Four were injured and one was being treated in intensive care.

The explosions were strong enough to be felt by residents of the nearby island, CNN reported.

“My windows shook really badly but (there) was no wind,” Lamma resident Deb Lindsay told CNN. “I thought there had been an earthquake!”

Lamma Island residents worried about a potential oil spill reaching their coastline. Southern Lamma Island hosts a protective nesting site for green turtles, a severely endangered species. An endangered colony of white dolphins also calls Hong Kong waters home.

Turtle sightings dwindle on Hong Kong’s ‘turtle cove’ http://www.youtube.com

Hong Kong’s Environmental Protection Department told CNN that cleaning vessels had been immediately placed on standby but that no oil spill had yet been detected. Some liquid was seen spilling from the boat, but it was unclear if it was oil or water from firefighting, and there was no oil residue on the water around the vessel.

The boat had been refueling in Hong Kong on its way to Thailand from the southern Chinese city of Dongguan, The New York Times reported.

The Fire Services Department’s division commander of marine and diving Yiu Men-yeung told The South China Morning Post that the boat was tilted 30 degrees as of Tuesday evening but was at no risk of sinking.

However, officials said the boat was too hot to tow away immediately, or to board to discover the cause of the fire, and would need several days to cool down.

One fire department insider with 30 years of experienced explained to the South China Morning Post that fighting fires on oil tankers was especially challenging:

“Depending on the situation, the two major fireboats spray foam to coat the tanker and suppress combustion. Other fireboats use water jets to cool the vessel,” the insider said, on condition of anonymity.

“It has taken [firefighters overseas] several days or even a few weeks to extinguish oil tanker fires in worst-case scenarios. It is definitely not easy.”

The insider also added that rescue operations were difficult because the heat of the vessels made boarding perilous. Further, the fact that oil leaks could cause fires to break out on the water itself make rescue diving too dangerous.
https://www.ecowatch.com/oil-tanker-fire-hong-kong-2625515032.html?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=8aea6d64ae-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-8aea6d64ae-86074753

5 Biggest Threats To Our Oceans – and what we can do about them


http://amp.dw.com/en/5-biggest-threats-to-our-oceans-and-what-we-can-do-about-them/a-39065307

10 Simple Actions That Just Might Save Our World’s Oceans From Plastic | One Green Planet

Marine life is currently under attack from all sides by plastic. From plastic in the form of large plastic bags and 2-liter soda bottles to tiny microplastics, our oceans are absolutely inundated with the stuff. It’s turning up on shorelines, in the stomachs of ocean life, and as giant patches thousands of miles removed from civilization.
The relentless and ever-growing plastic problem our marine ecosystems face is massive. An estimated 8.8 million tons of plastics make their way into our oceans worldwide every single year. And while this sad fact is partially due to a growing population without a comparable and effective waste disposal system to match, marine plastic pollution is also the result of hundreds of little choices we all make every day at the individual level.

With 80 percent of marine plastics originally being sourced from land, it stands to reason that we carry much of the weight in reducing the amount of plastics that reach our oceans. Let’s discuss a few simple ways we can drastically cut our contribution of plastic pollution to our oceans and be superheroes to whales and fish everywhere!

1. Hydrate Responsibly
Staying hydrated is super important but you can certainly do it without bottled water. Relying on plastic to get your H2O on is proving to be really rough on the environment – Americans use an estimated 50 billion plastic water bottles a year. Sadly, only 23 percent of these actually end up recycled. The rest may end up in a landfill or even lost at sea. Switching out plastic for a reusable water bottle or cup is a much better choice for our oceans.

  1. Mind Your Coffee Habit

Your daily coffee (or tea) fix might be contributing to plastic pollution if you’re not careful. Every to-go cup of the hot stuff you buy at the gas station or local café most likely comes topped with a plastic lid and maybe even a plastic drink stirrer thrown in the mix. If you buy a cup of coffee every weekday, that’s hundreds of plastic lids and stirrers wasted every year! In fact, 138 billion plastic stirrers (and straws) are tossed out in America on an annual basis. Want to kick this plastic habit without losing your caffeine fix? Invest in a reusable thermos or mug and stir your cream and sugar with silverware.
3. Avoid Plastic Pop

Like hot beverages you consume outside the home, cold drinks you’re served in a portable cup may also carry unwanted plastic. A soda or iced tea from a fast food joint is often accompanied by a plastic lid and straw, and maybe even housed in a plastic cup. Maybe you’re eating somewhere you can use a reusable cup, or you can ask for the cup minus the lid and straw. Need proof this change will make a difference? Check out how painful a single plastic drinking straw was for a sea turtle earlier this year.

  1. Plastic-Less Shopping Bags
    9 Simple Actions That Just Might Save Our World’s Oceans from PlasticAlex/ Flickr

This one may be obvious, but we still can’t forget to mention it: nixing plastic shopping bags saves lives. Literally! A survey of leatherback sea turtles found that one in three has a plastic bag in its stomach. With the world using an estimated 500 billion plastic bags every single year, the ocean could certainly stand to benefit from us cutting out the stuff and replacing them with reusable shopping bags.

  1. Stomp Out Cigarette Litter

If you’re a smoker, please don’t forget to properly dispose of your cigarette butts once you’re done with them. Cigarette filters are actually not biodegradable as they’re made of plastic and pack quite a punch for the environment once you factor in the chemicals and carcinogens they leach. Once you stomp out your butt, put it in a trash can so it doesn’t end up in the ocean instead.
6. Take-Out Containers

Styrofoam take-out containers are no fun for the environment. They are incredibly common forms of plastic pollution (when they aren’t taking up space in landfills) and are composed of a combination of toxic chemicals that can end up in both our bodies and those of animals that accidentally ingest them. You can avoid contributing to Styrofoam pollution by planning ahead and taking your own reusable containers with you when eating out.
7. Reduce Plastic Packaging

Plastic packaging is really hard to avoid when shopping at a conventional grocery store, but try buying groceries with the intent of keeping as much plastic out of the picture as possible. Buy fruits and veggies that don’t come packaged in plastic bags or shrink-wrap. Aim for larger servings of packaged items in place of individually packaged ones (yogurt, chips, cheese, etc). Think these little changes can’t make such a big difference? Think again! Plastic packaging for food is actually the largest form of municipal waste in America, resulting in 80 million tons of waste every year!
8. Do Your Dishes

Instead of opting for plastic cutlery, plates, bowls, and cups to use around the house, why not invest in some dishes and eating utensils that don’t get the heave-ho once the meal’s over? Using single-use plastics to eat every meal could result in thousands of pieces of plastic waste every year. But sticking with metal or bamboo eating utensils and plates and bowls that you can use time and time again would eliminate all that waste.
9. Question That Seafood

9 Simple Actions That Just Might Save Our World’s Oceans from Plastic
US Fish and Wildlife Services/ Flickr

Plastic fishing gear has become a huge enemy of marine life. Both active fishing gear and discarded nets and lines present a problem for animals including sea turtles, whales, dolphins, seals, sharks, birds, and even corals. Cutting your support for this industry and replacing fish foods with plant-based alternatives could drastically reduce deadly plastics in our oceans.
10. Look Out for Microbeads

Microbeads seem to be everywhere these days. These tiny spherical plastics are used as scrubbing or exfoliant agents in many “whitening” toothpastes and face washes. While they might seem harmless because of their small size, in reality, they have an enormous impact. A recent study found that a single squeeze of a product that contains microbeads can release 100,000 tiny beads. Once they wash down the drain, they easily pass through water treatment plants and eventually end up in the oceans. Once in the ocean, they are easily ingested by marine animals, exposing them to harmful toxins and compounds. Not to mention, it is estimated that one in every three bites of seafood contain plastic, and even table salt has been found to have trace amounts of plastic – meaning the same beads we wash down the drain are swimming right back to us in the form of food. Yuck!
The Big Picture

What’s important to remember is that these easy steps aren’t the one and only way to save our oceans from plastic pollution. They do, however, represent some of the most common ways that plastics can be mismanaged and end up in marine ecosystems, and thus some of the more effective ways we can begin to address marine plastic pollution. No doubt you encounter plastics in your daily life in countless other ways and have infinite opportunities to act in favor of the environment. Why not start making choices today that save our oceans from plastic waste?
Let’s #CrushPlastic! Click the graphic below for more information.