Why we oppose offshore drilling in the Gulf Island National Seashore
Offshore oil\gas production not worth the risk! Click here to see our petition. Print it out and circulate it, then send it back to us. You can make a difference!
Recently Sen. Thad Cochran added a rider on a U.S. Senate appropriations bill that would require our National Park, Gulf Islands National Seashore, to allow seismic explorations for oil and gas underneath the barrier islands of Horn, Petit Bois and Ship Islands. If jet skis are considered too detrimental for the National Park, what is the impact of setting off dynamite charges within the park in order to explore for oil and gas?
This stealth amendment would also promote directional drilling to suck out any oil or gas reserves found underneath the islands.
There are legitimate concerns that oil and gas drilling would lead to subsidence, which is the sinking of the islands. As oil and gas are withdrawn, portions of the land surrounding and under the island will sink in order to fill the vacuum that results. As land subsides, or sinks, the islands become more vulnerable to washover during hurricanes.
You need look no further than the neighboring state of Louisiana to view this well documented geologic phenomenon where many square miles of Louisiana coast and wetlands are lost on an annual basis. While providing less than 3 percent of the states job base, the oil industry is responsible for destroying 40 percent of the states coast wetlands.
There are appropriate places to drill for oil and gas offshore, and there are inappropriate places. It is inappropriate to endanger the crown jewels of Mississippi, which are Horn, Petit Bois and Ship Islands, which make up the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Legislation passed by the Mississippi Legislature in 2004, drafted by the oil industry, opened up an astonishing 225,000 acres of water bottoms surrounding the park for oil and gas drilling. The Coast has a $500 plus million dollar tourism industry. Why jeopardize that?
Understand that we arent just risking a natural treasure. If we lose the islands, we lose a large portion of the seafood industry AND we lose protection from hurricanes that could end up costing hundreds of millions.
The Biloxi City Council voted unanimously to oppose the legislation that would allow oil and gas drilling in state waters off the Mississippi Coast. The resolution, which was offered by Mayor A.J. Holloway, said that offshore oil and gas drilling may diminish the quality and appearance of coastal wetlands and horizon and will adversely affect the tourism and seafood industry. The Jackson and Harrison County boards of Supervisors passed similar resolutions.
The entire coastline of Florida has been put off limits to oil and gas exploration. Doesnt our National Park deserve similar respect?
If you want to see what oil and gas drilling has done for tourism, visit Dauphin Island. There isnt a motel or hotel on Dauphin Island that you and your family would want to stay in. The islands beaches are filthy, noisy and dominated by massive unsightly drilling platforms. There is an unnatural turbidity (murkiness) of the water.
In addition, Exxon Mobil was fined $11.9 billion for attempting to defraud the state of Alabama out of hundreds of million of dollars in offshore oil and gas royalties. This was the largest punitive damage award in the U.S. in 2003. Montgomery County Circuit Judge Tracy McCooey said the companys efforts revealed a concerted, clandestine and multifaceted scheme to defraud the state.
The Clarion Ledger recently reported that $1 billion is being invested in high rise condominium development on the Coast in the next five years. The Mississippi Gulf Coast attracts such development because it provides one of the last unobstructed views of the southern horizon.
The April 15, 2005 issue of Southern Living Magazine again lists Ship Island as one of the editors favorite spots to see a sunset, enjoy at stroll, go stargazing and more. The selection of Ship Island means it is a great place to get away from everything manmade
If you want to go out and see nature at its best, see the peace and beauty of the south. This is the kind of place you go to. This will cease to exist with oil and gas drilling around the islands.
The federal government needs to buy out the mineral rights from the state, completing the job of purchasing the National Park. This will provide money up front to the education trust fund in one lump sum rather than gambling on possibly discovering and extracting oil and gas reserves five to ten years from now. This idea is not new; the Bush Administration appropriated $235 million to purchase mineral rights under Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida in 2001 and 2002.
The U.S. uses 25 percent of the worlds energy, yet only has 3 to 5 percent of the worlds reserves. Drilling will NOT solve the problem BUT conservation WILL. If we reach 40 mpg as the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standard for fleets, which is achievable with hybrid cars, that would eliminate the need for offshore oil and gas development and our dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
Call or write Sen. Cochran, and tell him No Drilling! Call Leland Speed, the director of the Mississippi Development Authority who is in charge of leasing and express your opposition. Sen. Thad Cochran, 113 Dirksen Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510. Call: 202-224-5054.
Leland Speed, P.O. Box 849, Jackson Ms.39205-0849. Call: 601-359-3449.
You may also download our petition, circulate it for signatures, then send it back to us. We need your help!
Position Paper of Gulf Islands Conservancy and Mississippi Sierra Club
(For more info, visit www.gulfislandsconservancy.com