Off-Shore Drilling Hearings See Big Turnout
This month, the Department of the Interior held four hearings on off-shore drilling. Sierra Club organizers and activists rounded up great turnouts at three of the hearings to get folks to speak out on the importance of clean energy and not drilling off our coasts for oil.
Matt Kirby of the Sierra Club Lands Team attended the Atlantic City, New Jersey, hearing and had this to say:
The (NJ) hearing was an enormous success as environmentalists from up and down the eastern seaboard travelled to Atlantic City to voice their opposition to drilling. The choice to hold the hearing in Atlantic City was a strategic one as New Jersey has one of the most robust tourist economies on the East Coast and thus stands to lose significant revenue if drilling occurs off its beaches.
Read the rest of his experience on the Lay of the Land blog. And here’s a great article on the New Jersey hearing.
Then came the hearing in New Orleans, where clean energy advocates again made a good stand against drilling.
Said Jill Mastrototaro of our New Orleans office, "Though the odds were against the no-drillers, our message was mighty."
She added that many elected officials made statements, and that then she and fellow organizer Darryl Malek-Wiley made their statements on oil spills and the need for clean energy. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asked Mastrototaro numerous questions about national Sierra Club policy, so she had a good chance to get our voice heard.
The media turnout for the New Orleans hearing also went very well, with the Associated Press, the Times-Picayune, The Advocate, the Houston Chronicle, and two local TV stations showing up at the Club's noon press conference and rally.
"New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are ground zero for climate change, and residents throughout the region are realizing the real dangers posed by sea level rise if we as a nation and a people do not start making strides toward developing cleaner, renewable energy," said Mastrototaro. "With each passing hurricane season, more and more citizens are making this realization, and it’s our job to engage them in our quest toward this cleaner energy future. As the sign from one of our volunteers claimed, 'Wind mill, baby, wind mill!'"
And then finally, last week was the hearing in San Francisco. Volunteers from Sierra Club and dozens of other groups gathered before the hearing for a rally that included live music, banners, sea creature costumes, signs and banners, speakers, and more.
The Sierra Club media team's Kristina Johnson was there and said the response from clean energy supporters was fantastic.
"When I arrived on the UCSF campus for Salazar's final offshore drilling hearing, I was greeted by a group of polar bears holding banners reading 'Salazar: Save Polar Bears,'" said Johnson. "Inside the hearing, a panel of representatives from up and down California's coast reminded Salazar of our state's legacy of oil spills--the first, in Santa Barbara nearly 50 years ago, launched the dangers of offshore drilling into public consciousness. The memories of the most recent, in the San Francisco Bay in 2007, are still fresh."
Johnson added that outside the hearing, a colorful crew of jellyfish, dolphins, sea otters, surfers, and of course, more polar bears (including one adorable baby bear) gathered for a clean energy rally.
Then Sierra Club Board President Allison Chin took the stage, said Johnson, and rallied the crowd with cries for clean energy. She was joined by speakers such as Zeke Grader of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, who talked about the threats of drilling to the fishing industry, and Lamont Kelly from the International Longshore & Warehouse Union, who called for good, clean energy jobs.
Johnson said that by the time Salazar left the hearing, Californians--and a colorful crew of sea creatures--had sent a clear, resounding "no" to more offshore drilling and a loud, lively "yes" to clean coasts and clean energy.
Check out this great video of the San Francisco hearings. And go here to see a great set of photos by Wildcoast from the San Francisco hearings.
Did you miss the hearings? Don’t worry, you can submit your comments to the Department of the Interior right here about the importance of clean energy and not drilling off our coasts.
New Orleans photos courtesy of Darryl Malek-Wiley and Jill Mastrototaro. San Francisco photos courtesy of Wildcoast.