As several news sources reported recently, the Coast Guard has put new restrictions that prevent the public—including members of the media—from approaching within 65-feet of response vessels or booms on the water or beaches.
And since booms are often placed more than forty feet from islands or marshlands, this means that photographers, bloggers, reporters, and even volunteers, won’t be able to get close enough to oil-drenched wildlife to bear witness. To report. To help.
Violators will face a $40,000 fine and prosecution for a Class D felony.
The buffer zone has been implemented under the guise of safety, to “protect members of the response effort…by limiting access to and through deployed protective boom," according to the Coast Guard's news release. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen said that this isn’t “unusual.” But who cares if it’s unusual? It is unnecessary. It is unconscionable. It is unacceptable.
So tell the Coast Guard, Congress, and President Obama that you will not look away from the most egregious environmental catastrophe in our nation’s history. Tell them that you care, about the wildlife affected by the Deepwater Horizon spill and about the health of our oceans. Tell them that you have a right to know what is happening in the Gulf, and that you will not be ignored.
Update 07/15/10: On Monday, July 12, 2010 the Associated Press reported that the Coast Guard has lifted the ban on the media access to the spill, unless there are direct security or safety threats. While it's still difficult for volunteers to get close enough to help, the media is no longer blocked from bearing witness to the greatest ecological disaster in U.S. history.
Photo credit: ingridtaylar