This opinion was written by Carl Safina and first appeared last week in The Hill. It is republished here with permission by Mr. Safina and The Hill.
This week marks the end of the public’s chance to comment on President Trump’s draft five-year plan for offshore development, a plan that would re-open America’s Arctic Ocean to future leasing and oil drilling.
The new plan would replace the current version released at the conclusion of the Obama administration, one that took years to complete, cost millions in federal tax dollars and generated millions of public comments — the overwhelming majority of which favored keeping development out of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.
Trump’s plan, however, is a gift to the oil industry, a dismissal of the American public, and a retreat from addressing the challenge of climate change. His plan would see a near entirety of U.S. coastlines opened for leasing, including the Arctic Ocean where in 2015 and 2016 President Obama protected 125 million acres as ecologically sensitive marine environments. This plan would be a disaster for America’s Arctic. The risks of Arctic drilling are far too great — to the people, to the wildlife and to the future of our country.
I have traveled throughout the Arctic, from Alaska to Canada, Greenland and Svalbard. I have seen firsthand the effects that climate change is having on wildlife and communities. Here in the U.S., our Arctic waters are crucial to the Alaska Native villages along the coast that depend on them for subsistence hunting. Meanwhile, Alaska is feeling the impacts of climate change more than any other area of our country. Permafrost is melting, sea levels are rising, and communities are seeing their coastlines erode and water creep ever closer to their homes.
Since 2009, walrus unable to find ice have been increasingly hauling out on land, to the detriment of their young. Walrus need time to rest between feedings, and usually haul out onto offshore ice, with the melting ice walrus now come to land. Haul-outs of 20,000 to 40,000 animals have occurred because there was no ice in the Chukchi Sea. Haul outs in large numbers make them susceptible to disease and starvation. Easily frightened on land, walrus stampedes are deadly for calves caught in the panic.
America’s polar bear population is also becoming more reliant on the Alaska coastline as sea ice disappears, as both a refuge and for maternal denning. The U.S. Geological Survey recently released a report of the wildlife at Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from 2002 to 2017, which found that Beaufort Sea polar bears are becoming more common on shore in summer and fall due to climate change and increasing decline in sea ice. According to the report: “Increased frequency of bears on land, coupled with expanding human activities, is expected to lead to greater human-polar bear interaction and conflict.”
These changes are happening because climate change caused by burning oil and coal has destroyed their homes. Now is not the time to add the possibility of a major spill. That time has passed.
I have traveled to Prince William Sound, Alaska, and have seen the decades-long effect that the Exxon Valdez oil spill has had on people’s lives there.
After Deepwater Horizon exploded, BP’s well oozed oil for 87 panicked-filled days resulting in oiled beaches, oiled wildlife and shattered human lives. However, lessons learned are soon forgotten while the chase for oil money never wanes.
As a result, the Trump administration is pushing drilling for more oil in harder, riskier places. The Arctic Ocean environment is harsh and unforgiving — it is cold, dark and icy for most of the year. There is no infrastructure in place to help when the inevitable spill occurs — the nearest Coast Guard station is 1,000 miles away.
Despite having an astounding array of nearby infrastructure in the Gulf, we watched BP oil gush for months while clean-up crews flailed helplessly with ineffective ad-hoc efforts at plugging the hole.
Drilling in the Arctic Ocean is risky and reckless. This plan is risky and reckless. We need to make the transition to a clean energy economy and we must do it while keeping areas like the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific oceans closed to leasing and development. We are the guardians of this pristine place and the wildlife that live there. We are the guardians of our climate and our children’s future. We have the power to make the right choice, but we need to do it now.
Carl Safina is the author of “A Sea of Flames: The Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout.” He is also a MacArthur Fellow and holds the endowed chairman for Nature and Humanity at Stony Brook University. He is founder of the not-for-profit Safina Center.
I simply don’t understand how Pres. Trump (who I enthusiastically support) and the Republican Party (that I am indifferent to), which claim to be “conservative” can miss out on the importance of conserving our most basic natural resources. Everything should be done to conserve our coast, our pure water (no fracking) and our air quality – these are issues which are life and death. A true conservative should support the conservation of our resources, of our Mother Earth. S/he should also believe in conserving the rights of workers, the individual rights we have under the constitution, etc.
Laurie Wolpert says
You can make money off of it. That’s the short and simple answer. The wealthy will still enjoy clean water and pure air; it’s the rest of the population that will suffer. Please don’t think Trump will seriously break with his own class interests. He’s nothing but skim milk that knows how to pretend to be cream.
Slide Easy says
He sure has done a marvelous job of plucking millions of Liberal Raw Nerves. We sure have loved every minute of it and we have his back, please believe that.
Paul Plante says
As this following makes abundantly clear, the United States of America and its people and its resources are not the exclusive property of the up-jumped casino operator Donald trump, nor are they the property of Trump Enterprises:
A Citizen of New York
Printed by Samuel and John Loudon.
In days and countries, where Monarchs and their subjects were frequently disputing about prerogative and privileges, the latter often found it necessary, as it were to run out the line between them, and oblige the former to admit by solemn acts, called bills of rights, that certain enumerated rights belonged to the people, and were not comprehended in the royal prerogative.
But thank God we have no such disputes—we have no Monarchs to contend with, or demand admission from—the proposed Government is to be the government of the people—all its officers are to be their officers, and to exercise no rights but such as the people commit to them.
The Constitution only serves to point out that part of the people’s business, which they think proper by it to refer to the management of the persons therein designated—those persons are to receive that business to manage, not for themselves and as their own, but as agents and overseers for the people to whom they are constantly responsible, and by whom only they are to be appointed.
Chas Cornweller says
@ Slide Easy. I cannot for the life of me fathom the idea that you find this administration successful due to the fact of (in your words) “Plucking millions of Liberal Raw Nerves”. You go on to state… ”We sure have loved every minute of it and we have his back, please believe that.”
I can only imagine what our forefathers would think of the atrocity now sitting in the oval office. You DO remember them, don’t you? Learned men, with university backgrounds, many of which gambled their entire family fortunes to erect a new nation. Some of which actually fought on colonial battlefields and ALL, which had they been caught, would surely been hanged by their necks for treason against the King and Great Britain.
But this, lying, conniving, draft-dodging, poor little rich boy, whose fortunes have waned many times, but somehow always seems to find its way back to him. Who, has, on numerous occasions, stiffed payment to his contractors and forfeited on numerous bank loans, would be an anathema to America’s leaders from the Revolutionary War. He would have been viewed as lower than a Snake Oil salesman, lower than a cheating clergyman or merchantman. He would have been on the level of a treasonous Indian trader. Most likely viewed as a candidate for tar and feathers and a swift ride out of town on a rail. Personally, I think he would, in all cowardice and short-sighted vision, would have easily sided with the Tories and Loyalist and the side of King George, had he lived during the Revolution.
He is a puppet and the grand master of flash, fluff and fake news and fake fanfare, who shows no real leadership qualities for the presidency of the United States. His candidacy is so mired in corruption and dirty politics, he makes Richard Nixon look like an amateur. When this “Witch-hunt” (as you MAGA deniers like to label it) is done, you will see to the whole depth and breathe that this corruption truly goes. His name will not only be tarnished, but I predict that the name Trump will take on a whole new meaning…such as Benedict Arnold’s did after he turned against General Washington and the revolution and tried to give Fort West Point to the British.
Has Trump plucked my “Liberal Raw Nerves”? Hardly, but he has awakened my sensibilities and my ire that have lay dormant for too long, since the era of that infamous Republican administration so long ago. But, what really gets me is this: the fools and the blind that felt he was their man all along will feel the strongest cut and sting of economic hardship once his policies for enabling the rich to be richer, while pulling from your pockets are enacted. He never was for your kind. You are so far beneath who he truly represents, you were never meant to be recognized. Only patronized and once elected, marginalized. THAT, my dear Slider…is what plucks my nerve. Because for nearly thirty years on now, economically and politically, WE have been marginalized. The facts speak for themselves. Bankers can rob you, and will not serve time. It’s called a bailout.
If you haven’t woke up to this truth by now, then there is no hope for you. So, you just go on humming to talk radio and get all fair and balanced and stay tickled, if that makes you feel better. But, please do not expect change, it is not happening. Trump will not save you. He can’t even save himself…, but, then again, most two-bit hacks can’t.
Paul Plante says
You go, Chas Cornweller, dude!
Slide Easy says
I can only imagine what our forefathers would think of The Mulatto that sat in the oval office for eight years or the sheep that voted for it. Here are ten reasons Trump was elected:
10. He enforced President Barack Obama’s red line against Syria’s use of chemical weapons. When the regime of Bashar Assad used a toxic nerve agent on innocent men, women and children, Trump didn’t wring his hands. He acted quickly and decisively, restoring America’s credibility on the world stage that Obama had squandered.
9. He has taken a surprisingly tough line with Russia. Trump approved a $47 million arms package for Ukraine, sent troops to Poland’s border with Russia and imposed new sanctions on Moscow for violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
8. He recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Four American presidents promised to do it, but only one actually did. This is why the American people elected Trump. He does what he promises to do, for better or for worse — in this case, definitely for the better. Even Jeb Bush tweeted his approval.
7. He withdrew from the Paris climate agreement. After George W. Bush pulled out of the disastrous Kyoto treaty, U.S. emissions went down faster than those in much of Europe. The same will be true for Trump’s departure from the Paris accord. Combined with his approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, and opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to exploration, Trump is helping usher in a new age of American energy development.
6. He got NATO allies to kick in $12 billion more toward our collective security. Decades of pleading by the Bush and Obama administrations failed to get NATO allies to meet their financial commitments to the alliance, but Trump’s tough talk and reluctance to affirm America’s Article V commitment did the trick. NATO is stronger as a result.
5. He has virtually eliminated Islamic State’s physical caliphate. Trump removed the constraints Obama placed on our military and let it drive the terrorists from their strongholds.
4. He admitted he was wrong on Afghanistan and reversed Obama’s disastrous withdrawal. In a rare admission, Trump declared: “My original instinct was to pull out. … But all my life, I’ve heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office. … A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum for terrorists.”
3. He enacted historic tax and regulatory reform that has unleashed economic growth. Trump signed the first comprehensive tax reform in three decades and removed the wet blanket of Obama-era regulations smothering our economy. We are now heading into our third consecutive quarter of above 3 percent growth.
2. He is installing conservative judges who will preside for decades. With his appointment of Neil M. Gorsuch, Trump secured a conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, and he is moving at record pace to fill the federal appeals courts with young conservative judges.
1. He, not Hillary Clinton, was inaugurated as president. Trump delivered the coup de grace that ended the corrupt, dishonest Clinton political machine.
Paul Plante says
Above three percent growth, slide?
I follow the economy each day, and frankly, I must have missed the day that happened.
Check out, for example, the CNN article “U.S. economy picked up in 2017, but growth slowed at year’s end” by Patrick Gillespie on January 26, 2018, to wit:
The U.S. economy gained momentum in 2017, but growth slowed at the end of the year.
The economy grew 2.3% for the year, the Commerce Department said Friday.
That’s well ahead of the 1.5% growth in 2016, but slower than 2015.
It’s also below the 3% target President Trump has set for his first term.
Am I catching the wrong drift here, slide, or is CNN saying something different from what you are saying?
What you are saying @ March 22, 2018 at 12:49 am is “(W)e are now heading into our third consecutive quarter of above 3 percent growth,” but CNN says otherwise.
Is CNN putting out fake news then like Trump says they do?
CNN tells us thusly:
For the year overall, the economy started sluggish, picked up considerably in the spring and summer, and then slowed a bit in the fall.
For the final three months, the economy grew at a 2.6% annual rate.
Federal government spending helped: It rose at the fastest pace in seven years, led by a surge in defense spending.
But the economy was growing at a 3% pace or better for the previous six months.
So it appears to be in reality not quite how you tell it above.
As to Trump’s tax plan, this is what CNN had to say about that:
Trump and other Republicans sold their tax cut last year by saying it would create jobs and boost growth even more.
Many economists expect that the tax cuts could help boost growth this year, but that growth will gradually slip back to 2%, where it has hovered since the Great Recession.
As to the adverse impacts to the nation accruing from the Trump tax plan, we can see them already in a Marketwatch article by Robert Schroeder published: March 16 2018, as follows:
The national debt has exceeded $21 trillion for the first time, according to the U.S. government.
It had hit $20 trillion in September.
President Donald Trump signed a debt-limit suspension in February, allowing unlimited borrowing until March 1, 2019.
The government had a monthly deficit of $215 billion in February, up 12% from the same month last year due to lower revenue and higher spending.
Trump blew through a TRILLION dollars in just six months, slide, to give us below average growth.
So where did that TRILLION disappear to, do you think?
Whose pockets do you think that is now lining?
And what is up with this horse****, slide – President Donald Trump signed a debt-limit suspension in February, allowing unlimited borrowing until March 1, 2019?
Unlimited borrowing until March of next year?
At the rate Trump is going, that is going to be several TRILLION dollars more that the American people are going to be forced to have to pay the vigorish on.
Trump is treating himself like some form of royalty, and he is making the American people his tax slaves to do so.
And here is another Trump fiscal accomplishment – the monthly deficit of $215 billion in February, up 12% from the same month last year due to lower revenue and higher spending.
Frankly, slide, I think we have a real loser in the white house when it comes to protecting our future, but hey, in America, you can have anybody for a hero that you like, so, yes, slide, you can have Trump as your hero.
But he sure is not one of mine, by a longshot.
Paul Plante says
Good afternoon, Laurie Wolpert!
Paul Plante says
Oil interests have finally become convinced of the truth long agitated by economists and geologists, that unrestricted drilling is uneconomical and that the rapid reduction of gas pressure which it entails lessens the amount of oil which ultimately be obtained from the area.
In recognition of this, California has a state conservation law, the intent of which is to prevent the waste of natural gas and thereby not only conserve it for industrial use, but, through maintained gas pressure, increase the amount of petroleum which may ultimately be recovered from the producing sands of the area.
Such legislation is distinctly forward-looking and reflects the sane view that wanton waste in utilizing natural resources is economically unsound, and that, therefore, the immediate profits of a few must be sacrificed for the ultimate advantage of the many.
– pp. 251,252, Fundamentals of Economic Geography by Nels A. Bengtson, Professor of Geography, and Chairman of the Department of Geography, University of Nebraska, and Willem Van Royen, Department of Economics, Brooklyn College of the City of New York; Board of Economic Warfare, Division of Resources and Supply, copyright 1942
I’m going to avoid re-litigating past presidents and I’m just going to put a plug in for Wendell Berry, whose poetry and books I have gotten into recently. He speaks eloquently on the respect we ought to show farmers, the environment, and the need to create real communities, instead of allowing the wealth of the land to be siphoned into giant corporate conglomerates.
“Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of supply and demand; it is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy.”
The aim of industrialization has always been to replace people with machines or other technology, to make the cost of production as low as possible, to sell the product as high as possible, and to move the wealth into fewer and fewer hands.
A proper community, we should remember also, is a commonwealth: a place, a resource, an economy. It answers the needs, practical as well as social and spiritual, of its members – among them the need to need one another. The answer to the present alignment of political power with wealth is the restoration of the identity of community and economy. (pg. 63, “Racism and the Economy”)
I’d highly recommend him to anyone.
“Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Marcia Perkins says
This plan is absurd, and it is going to be decided without a vote from the American people. We need to preserve life, wildlife, and pristine areas (there are so few left). I’m doing all I can to stop Offshore Drilling. Let’s continue to get the information out and reverse the tide (the oil tide, that is).