SAY NO to offshore drilling on South Carolina's pristine coast
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DON'T PUT OUR PRISTINE SOUTH CAROLINA COAST AT RISK
SAY "NO" to Off Shore drilling on South Carolina's beautiful coast!
Sign this petition to tell Gov. Haley, Sen. Scott, & Sen. Graham "NO TO OFFSHORE DRILLING".
When you look out across the horizon from South Carolina beaches, you won't see any oil rigs. Beaufort, SC mayor Billy Keyserling worries that could change, affecting marine life and our life on land.
Read below to learn why offshore drilling isn't worth putting our coast at risk.
Impact on marine life
Concerns over new drilling amount to more than just a worry about spills.
To find potential oil reserve researchers send seismic waves into the ground. The waves bounce back to reveal the buried topography and can hint at a possible reserve. But seismic noise disorientates whales and leads to mass beachings, said Richard Charter, a government relations consultant for the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund.
Laboratory experiments attempting to pin down the impact of seismic waves on wildlife often must rely on caged animals, which raises questions about whether the animals would have fled and avoided ear damage if they could have, note Robert McCauley and colleagues in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.
However, Andy Radford, a policy advisor at the American Petroleum Institute, isn’t worried. "[We] make sure there are no whales in the area when we are doing our seismic search," Radford said.
Several weeks ago, ExxonMobil suspended exploration near Madagascar because more than 100 whales had beached themselves.
Ultimately, the seismic tests only help geologists make educated guesses. "You never know until you drill," said Eric Potter, associate director of the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin. The usual outcome is failure, Potter said, sending wildcatters back to the seismic drawing board.
Questions on land too
There are also questions about the impacts on land.
Radford described advances that reduce oil drilling’s environmental footprint. For instance, oil companies are now able to drain several oil fields from one platform. And new horizontal drilling techniques allow more oil to be extracted from a single well.
Major infrastructure – such as roads, jet landing strips, repair shops, homes and industrial complexes – is, of course, still necessary and could disturb wildlife that is accustomed to pristine land, said Charles Clusen, director of National Parks and Alaska Projects for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Similar concerns about wildlife arose before construction of the Alaskan Pipeline, built in the 1970s.
"But there hasn't really been any effect on the wildlife; they congregate near the pipeline and it doesn't seem to bother them," said UT's Eric Potter.
I don't know about you, but a giant industrial pipe would be so ugly and totally ruin a beautiful view! Do we really want that on our coast?
However, any development of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for drilling, as President Bush has long advocated for, could have a greater impact. Polar bears, caribou and other animals trek across this unique area to give birth, said Clusen. Birth is the most vulnerable time in a species’ life cycle and disrupting it will lead to diminished populations, he explained.
The true overall environmental impact of oil drilling is hard to gauge, due to the paucity of baseline studies, said Jeff Short, a supervisory researcher for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
In the wild, most animals quickly flush PAH, a toxin associated with oil wells, from their bodies — which is why PAH rarely concentrates in the food web and is of minimal risk to humans. The animal’s justifiably panicked immune response to PAH can cause cancer — especially if the animal is exposed continually by, say, living near an oil platform, explained Short.
As for human populations, many coastal communities depend on tourism and fishing — both of which may be affected by off-shore drilling by increased development, pollution and disruption of marine life habitats.
The Coastal Conservation League warns that just one spill, like the BP Deep Water Horizon disaster in the Gulf, could decimate tourism and fishing industries. They say that spill cost $23 billion in tourism damage over a three year span there.
Spills and transportation
Clusen says there are 300 to 500 spills every year, a number which will grow with increased production.
"And once you have a spill, you are pretty much screwed," NOAA's Short said. That's because oil spreads on water at a rate of one-half a football field per second. Recovery can take decades.
After 20 years of natural weathering, Prince William Sound — the area affected by the Exxon-Valdez spill — appears completely recovered to the casual observer, said Short, but animals high up on the food chain are just now starting to re-colonize.
Even a perfectly functioning oil well is a cause of concern due to "produced water," explained Short.
Produced water — which rises with oil and contains environmental toxins such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) — is usually tossed overboard. At high concentrations, the contaminants are lethal to marine life. At lower concentrations, according to lab experiments, they can cause birth defects, impaired growth and skewed sex ratios.
Prices at the pump
Estimates for the output of drilling sites can only accurately be given in very large ranges, Potter explained. For example, the Energy Information Administration predicts ANWR could produce between 1.9 and 4.3 billion barrels of oil, and that might not do much for our pocketbooks. In 2007, the United States consumed 7.5 billion barrels, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).In the best-case scenarios, said Clusen, "we're talking lowering the price of gas by three cents, 20 years from now."
Offshore drilling poses too big of a risk to our beautiful coastline, marine life, lifestyle, and economy.
All information above shared from:
KNOW YOUR NUMBERS, ECONOMICS of OFFSHORE DRILLING IN SC
Offshore oil and gas development could potentially create some jobs for our state, however it also creates large liabilities in terms of oil and gas pollution. As demonstrated by the BP Deepwater Horizon accident of 2010, even one spill can decimate tourism and fishing industries. The US Travel Association estimates that the BP spill caused $23 billion in tourism impacts over a three-year span for Gulf Coast states. That doesn’t include the impacts to coastal real estate and the region’s fisheries.
Considering South Carolina’s economic reliance on tourism (over 175,000 jobs and $19.3 billion in annual economic output), which is directly dependent on our pristine coastal resources and quality of life, it simply doesn’t make economic or environmental sense to pursue offshore drilling.
SC Board of Economic Advisors (2009)
- - Given the relatively low amount of potential resources off our shores and the environmental sensitivity of our coastline there does not seem to be much incentive to drilling off South Carolina at current prices.
- Energy Information Administration (2007 under George W. Bush)
- - The projections in the OCS (outer continental shelf) access case indicate that access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030. Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.
- SC Department of Commerce (2008)
- - Offshore natural gas drilling will not likely have a significant, direct economic impact in terms of new jobs and capital investment in SC.
- A.P. Statistical Analysis (2012)
- - American oil production is about 11 percent of the world's output, so even if the U.S. were to increase its oil production by 50 percent -- that is more than drilling in the Arctic, increased public-lands and offshore drilling, and the Canadian pipeline would provide -- it would at most cut gas prices by 10 percent. There are not many markets where the United States can't impose its will on market outcomes. This is one we can't, and it's hard for the average American to understand that and it's easy for politicians to feed off that.
Recent Pro-Drilling Studies
A number of recent studies focused on the potential for offshore drilling to create jobs and generate economic output have resulted in disparate estimates of what South Carolina could expect from the oil and gas industry within our borders. Only one of these studies attempts to quantify the environmental costs associated with oil spills and pollution.
The most recent study from the Interstate Policy Council (IPC) found the largest potential benefits by a wide margin, while also considering the costs of some environmental impacts. A closer look reveals serious flows in this analysis.
Flaws in the IPC Study
The report assumes a revenue sharing system that does not exist for the Atlantic. It assumes the same system that is in place in the Gulf of Mexico where states receive 37.5% of lease sale and royalties payments. There is no law on the books now that provides for this system.
- - Although the report includes comparisons of certain cost/benefit scenarios, it ignores other less optimistic scenarios (it only matches up low production/low environmental impacts, medium production/medium environmental impacts, and high production/high environmental impacts)
- -A low production/high impacts scenario for SC would result in 2.4x the costs to benefits
- - The report also fails to consider the economic impact of accidents on tourism, real estate, and fisheries. The environmental impacts considered are for air pollution and oil spill clean up costs.
- - The report presents technically recoverable resources rather than current estimates for economically recoverable oil and gas resources.
- - For example, for the aggregate of the states in this analysis, the economically recoverable oil and gas is over 50% lower than what this the IPC study presents, thereby doubling the oil and gas estimates.
- - For South Carolina and Georgia, the economically recoverable oil and gas is estimated to be over 70% lower than the technically recoverable resource.
- - The IPC study also assumes a multiplier of around 2 to over inflate resource estimates. This multiplier is arbitrarily applied to the Atlantic based on some historical under-estimates of resources in the Gulf of Mexico.
- - Based on the points above, this study artificially quadruples the oil and gas estimates, which quadruples the benefits to drilling.
- - The report ignores other environmental impacts such as those from seismic testing and exploratory drilling.
Overview of Recent Studies
- - Interstate Policy Council (2014)
- - 2035: 16,597 additional jobs
- - $14.5 billion in economic output
- - Miley & Associates (2012)
- - 2030: 7,485 additional jobs
- - $2.2 billion in economic output
- - Wood Mackenzie (2011)
- - 2030: 6,799 additional jobs
- - $481 mill in total government annual revenue
In the IPC Study, a low production/high environmental impacts scenario for South Carolina would result in 2.4x the costs to benefits.
Will Atlantic Ocean Oil Prospecting Silence Endangered Right Whales?
Companies have been cleared to seek seismic noise permits in the Atlantic, but ocean researchers fear for whales
Whales talk. But what makes them stop talking?
Scientists have long known that the marine mammals use creaks, groans, growls, and buzzes to communicate with each other—often over long distances—to find food, and even for mothers to keep track of their calves.But what happens when the watery echosphere of their communication is filled with a drumbeat of undersea booms?
To the dismay of some who study whales, they may soon find out. The Obama administration this month gave the go-ahead for oil and gas companies to seek permits to use seismic noise cannons to map the Atlantic Ocean off the East Coast, to prepare for possible drilling after 2017.
Drilling companies already have carved up a target zone from Delaware to Cape Canaveral, Florida. The permits will allow their ships to crisscross the area dragging an array of cannons that erupt with a shock wave of sound every 10 to 15 seconds. The sound travels to the seafloor, enters the substrate, and bounces back to receivers on the ships.
From the seismic pattern of those bounces, the companies' geologists can make some good guesses about the location of gas and oil deposits under the ocean floor.
May Silence Whales
But some scientists believe the sonic booms will be a deafening cacophony to whales and dolphins, and may prompt them to stop communicating with one another.
"This is going to add more noise to the already huge problem whales are dealing with—man-made noise in the ocean," said Sofie Van Parijs, who studies acoustics for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Northeast Fisheries Science Center at Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
"The long-term effects are not easily observed or clear," she said. "They may not hear each other as well, find each other, find mates. Socializing, breeding, and foraging may be affected."
The whales may just clam up. Douglas Nowacek, an associate professor of conservation technology at the Duke University Marine Lab in Beaufort, North Carolina, has studied whale behavior in the Gulf of Mexico, where seismic cannons are used extensively for seabed mapping.
In 2000, he and other researchers set off sonic cannons in a relatively quiet area of the Gulf and recorded the reactions of sperm whales. Those whales use what he calls "buzzes" to home in on fish at depths of 1,300 to 2,000 feet (400 to 600 meters), and especially to nab their favorite snack of giant squid.
When the scientists fired the cannons, "we saw the sperm whales tended to reduce the numbers of eco-buzzes. The rate of buzzes dropped off," he said. If the cannons cut down on their feeding success, that's not good for the whales, he noted.
Singing Patterns Changed
This behavior was similar to that of humpback whales in the Mediterranean. Faced with noise interference, the whales changed their singing patterns over long periods, Nowacek said.
The researchers are particularly concerned about the majestic North Atlantic right whale. The right whales' documented response to sudden noises is to shoot for the surface, and then remain just under water.
Faced with noise interference, the whales changed their singing patterns over long periods, Nowacek said.
When they hover just under the surface, the whales are vulnerable to becoming aquatic road kill for the ships that do not see the animals.
The species was nearly extinguished by whalers, who found that their thick blubber and propensity to float near the surface made them the "right whale" to hunt. The ban on commercial whaling in 1986 has helped other species rebound, but the North Atlantic right whale has struggled. Because it is often near the surface, its biggest threat now is ships.
Only about 500 of the whales remain, and scientists keep meticulous track of them. They scour the waters to monitor the whales, and keep careful photo records of each known whale, often identified by the scars from the animal's encounters with propellers or bruises from hull strikes.
"It's critical to understand that the ocean is an acoustic world," Jasny said. "Many species—whales, dolphins, fish, invertebrates—depend on their hearing, and the ability to be heard, for survival and to reproduce.
"Air-gun surveys put out more noise than any other human source short of dynamite," he said. "Human noise can destroy the ability of right whales to communicate. If the whales are silent, then that means they are unable to feed cooperatively, unable to find mates. A silent whale is, for all intents and purposes, blind."
But those predictions of grave effects on whales are rejected by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).
"I think those assertions are wildly exaggerated and not supported by the evidence," William Y. Brown, BOEM's chief environmental officer, said in an interview.
The agency issued the decision July 18 allowing drilling companies to take the first steps toward exploration of the East Coast waters, a move promised by President Barack Obama in 2010 but delayed by the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The real question is ... whether it disrupts them in a way that makes them move away from food or disrupts breeding.
"The real question is whether [whales] are just hearing a noise and turning around, or whether it disrupts them in a way that makes them move away from food or disrupts breeding," Brown said. "There's just no evidence that happens."
The bureau, part of the Department of the Interior, insists it has taken every precaution. To help "mitigate" the seismic blasts, BOEM ordered that mappers must watch and listen for whales, motor slowly and stop if a whale comes near, avoid right whale breeding grounds in the spring, and take other measures.
Critics said those steps are too meager. The American Petroleum Institute, on the other hand, complains they are unneeded. "Operators already take great care to protect wildlife, and the best science and decades of experience prove that there is no danger to marine mammal populations," the oil industry association said in a statement.
A federal environmental impact statement released in February asserted most impacts to sea life would be "negligible or minor, and no major impacts were identified."
The Atlantic area involved contains some thousands of species, including 39 mammal species, seven of them endangered: the humpback, sperm, fin, blue, sei, and right whales and the West Indian manatee, according to the environmental impact statement.
"We should be concerned about effects of sound on marine mammals and make sure it doesn't hurt them," Brown said. "But I am pretty sure the overall noise level in the Atlantic will only be incrementally affected by these surveys. There are orders of magnitude more noise from vessel traffic."
Whales vs. Ships
Scientists already have seen a dramatic, if tragic, demonstration that shipping traffic is weighing on the whales.
Susan Parks, an assistant professor of biology at Syracuse University in New York who studies whale acoustics, and Rosalind Rolland of the New England Aquarium in Boston, who studies stress hormones in right whales, were working on September 11, 2001, the day of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.
Scientists already have seen a dramatic, if tragic, demonstration that shipping traffic is weighing on the whales.
When the world's ships docked for a week following the attacks, the seas went quiet and the stress-level indicators "showed a dramatic drop that we haven't seen any other years," she said.
The finding showed that the whales are much more affected by human behavior than we might have thought, Parks said.
"We just really don't know what it's going to do, but we know these are endangered species that are going to be put in harm's way," she said.
Doug Struck is a veteran journalist and teaches at Emerson College in Boston. article via http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/08/140811-seismic-science-endangered-right-whale-atlantic-oil-ocean
What other cities on the east coast have opposed seismic testing? Click or copy & paste the link below to see!
Offshore drilling poses too big of a risk to our beautiful coastline, marine life, lifestyle, and economy. Once the rigs are erected, they cannot be taken down.
Sign this petition to tell Gov. Haley, Sen. Scott, & Sen. Graham "NO TO OFFSHORE DRILLING", you can make a difference!
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