For 45 years, the United States has led the globe in protection o f marine mammals. We have a system under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) which has led to miraculous recoveries of our coast’s Eastern Pacific Gray Whale and Northern Elephant Seal, and the ongoing protection of many others.
The H.R. 4239 energy bill, which recently reared its ugly head in congress, contains an extreme set of proposals that would provide shortsighted giveaways to the oil and gas industry at the expense of key protections for marine life such as the MMPA. This bill, which the oil industry has backed and is lobbying heavily for, would force our government to prioritize oil and gas companies ahead of the people and the economies that sustain our coastal regions.
The bill is a blatant attack on an effective American wildlife protection law, introduced by Republican President Richard Nixon. This bill would weaken the MMPA to make it easier for seismic testing and oil companies to harm or kill marine mammals. This is because the outdated technology of seismic blasting that must be done to locate oil and gas beneath the seafloor has been known to disrupt vital functions of marine mammals, who depend on hearing for survival. It’s short sighted and dangerous.
It’s clear cut for us Californians and always has been. Drilling leads to spilling, and spilling is bad for business. Our booming tourism and recreation economy needs a clean and healthy ocean to thrive. Unless we’re talking about creating jobs in oil spill cleanup efforts, new drilling would only cripple our already spectacular economy. Keep in mind, California has the world’s 6th largest economy, behind the U.S., Japan, Germany, the U.K., and France.
So, with Trump’s executive order threatening to open the Pacific coast for new drilling and extreme bills like the “SECURE American Energy Act” being proposed, where will Congressman Issa stand? Right now, we must hold him accountable for his votes on bills like this which threaten our coastal recreation and tourism economy, as well as 45 years of our nation exhibiting the best federal protections of marine mammals on Earth.
Seismic testing, or “blasting” is a direct threat to our nation’s marine mammals, that rely on sound for survival, reproduction, and building social connections. What’s concerning is that parts of this bill resemble language we’ve heard before from the International Association of Geophysical Contractors (IAGC), the group that represents the seismic industry. Passing this bill would make it easier for the companies involved to get permits for activities that would injure, kill, or disrupt marine mammals’ vital functions.
So my question is this: Will Congressman Issa stand with coastal communities to protect all that we love about our coast? Or will he hold hands with international interests and Big Oil on this one? Either way, we must keep the spotlight on him. Please call Congressman Issa to make sure that he is prepared to vote against HR4239, the “SECURE American Energy Act” and all legislation aimed at the destruction of wildlife protections in the interest of the oil industry.
Dave Peiser is executive director of San Diego Climate Action Network and a former challenger to Issa