*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*
Of all the reasons to miss President Obama, the most important seems to be that he is still working to protect Americans and more importantly the environment everyone lives in. Of course, the environment is not important to most Americans or they would have ceased long ago to consistently send anti-environment oil mongers to Congress, or an inept malcontent who eschews scientific data to the White House. Fortunately, Barack Obama is still the President and despite his tenure is winding down, he is still protecting the environment, the economy, and the American people.
A couple of days ago while Americans were glued to Twitter anxiously waiting to catch the latest petulant outrage from Donald Trump, they missed the news that President Obama fairly put a nail in the oil industry’s hopes of wiping out the Atlantic Seaboard with oil exploration; they still haven’t learned from the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Perhaps it was to demonstrate to dumb Don Trump what a real President does for the people, or to stop the oil industry from despoiling the massive Atlantic Seaboard, or to protect marine mammals from oil industry death, but whatever the President’s motivation, he was decisively thorough. He was also spent his last days in office putting the finishing touches necessary to nail the Atlantic ocean oil exploration coffin shut, and it could be for good.
His action to ban a dangerous testing technique along the Atlantic coast is a follow-up to an astute ploy exactly 20 days ago permanently banning “oil and gas drilling” up and down the Atlantic coast protecting over 3.8 million acres of the Atlantic sea floor from the oil industry. That action was in addition to the President heeding dire warnings from the Pentagon last March when President Obama did the unthinkable and “banned” oil drilling in the Atlantic. However, there was still the prospect of the industry using another technique, “seismic testing,” that wasn’t covered in the other executive actions – until Friday.
The White House announced that President Obama denied all permits for “seismic testing” in the Atlantic, and it was welcomed news to environmentalists and East Coast residents alike who are preparing for an anti-environment administration ready and waiting do its worst. If the media hadn’t been mesmerized by the Trump saga and his Tweets, and his lies, and his persistent whining that the world isn’t queueing up to kiss his orange behind, it would have reported the good news.
The President’s action wasn’t lost on the Oceana campaign director Claire Douglass who was grateful for a President with morals in place to protect Americans instead of the Koch brothers’ industry. Ms. Douglass said in a statement:
“We know that seismic airgun blasting is dangerous. Today, we thank the Obama administration for finishing the job in protecting the Atlantic Ocean from offshore drilling activities. With offshore drilling off the table for the near future, there was absolutely no reason to risk the damage that would be caused by seismic airgun blasting in the region. East Coast communities can finally take a well-deserved sigh of relief knowing that their ocean and economies are currently spared from dangerous seismic airgun blasting.”
As noted above, this latest move completed the President’s efforts to completely protect the Atlantic Coastal region from oil industry devastation. The President is also protecting sea life that is ravaged by horribly damaging “seismic testing.” The process, also known as “seismic airgun blasting” involves blasting the ocean floor with airguns to search for oil. The process is regarded by marine scientists as “an extremely loud process that can cause hearing loss in marine mammals and disturb crucial feeding and breeding behaviors.”
In fact, according to Oceana, the sound generated by seismic testing is so incredibly loud it can be heard up to 2,500 miles away. By canceling the six oil industry permit applications the President protected an area of the Atlantic about twice the size of California; from the New Jersey-Delaware border to the middle of Florida. It is a mammoth area hosting countless thousands of marine mammals including a very substantial fishing industry.
The director of the Marine Mammal Protection Project and Land and Wildlife Program at the NRDC, Michael Jasny told ThinkProgress:
“Seismic blasting is not only the gateway drug to offshore oil and gas development, but it also has enormous environmental harm in itself. It’s known to disrupt mammal behavior like foraging and nursing and endangered whales, and compromise fishing by disrupting fish populations over very large areas of ocean. To have proceeded with this folly would have been inimical to the health of our oceans and the communities that depend on them, and irreconcilable with the clean energy future.”
It isn’t the “clean energy future” that was the primary impetus for “staunch community opposition” to Atlantic oil and gas exploration and drilling; it was the environmental and economic disaster of allowing the oil industry free rein over America’s oceans and coastal areas. According to Oceania:
“120 East Coast municipalities, 1,200 elected officials, and an alliance representing more than 35,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families have publicly opposed either offshore drilling, seismic airgun blasting, or both.”
Unlike any Republican alive, President Obama regarded the public’s opposition in his decision as much as his intent to leave office protecting the environment and economy from big oil.
Apparently, residents up and down the Atlantic coast opposed allowing offshore drilling because they were terrified about the environmental and economic impacts of a Deepwater Horizon (BP) disaster that devastated Gulf Coast communities in 2010 and “caused lasting negative impacts” for both the area’s fishing and tourism industries. It would be devastating for another oil disaster in the Atlantic because as the Center for a Blue Economy reported last year; “the tourism and fishing industry accounts for $14.6 billion in revenue for just Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.”
As the NRDC’s Jasny noted, it is possible that the oil industry’s new best friend Trump could reverse the ban on seismic blasting as part of his promise to expand offshore drilling, but it would “fly in the face of established science.” It is worth noting, yet again, that dumb Donnie doesn’t understand what science is; especially if it contradicts the wealthy anti-environment cabal he is installing in his unethical cabinet. Besides, President Obama’s ban from three weeks ago is permanent.
Mr. Jasny said:
“The science [on seismic airgun blasting] has become, with each passing year, more and more indicative of serious population-level harm on a wide variety of marine species resulting from this activity. If the Trump administration wants to run ragged over science and fact, then we will see them in court.”
There is little doubt there will be quite a few court dates regarding this atrocious process. However, there is still a ban on gas and oil exploration and drilling that President Obama put in place and disallows Trump, or any future president, from changing it; not that deplorable Don has any more regard for settled law than he does the Constitution. It is why President Obama’s use of an all-but-forgotten 1953 law that gave him the legal authority to implement the bans was brilliant and eliminated having to fear that an oil industry puppet in the White House will reverse the decision because the law disallows it.
Americans may not all be aware yet, but these final act maneuvers by President Obama will be the last time in a long time that a real President actually works for the good of the people, their environment, and their economy. There is nothing whatsoever that Trump will do for “the people” and the proof is that in recent memory no living Republican has done anything to benefit the people. That Barack Obama was able to protect Atlantic seaboard residents from oil industry environmental and economic devastation is incredibly good news; that he also protected thousands of species of marine life simply proves that this President is all-encompassing when it comes to protecting life; something Americans are not going to see again for a miserably long time.