In a little more than a month, we will begin a voyage to give life to the fight that is brewing off the Atlantic coast. The purpose of this trip is to create a documentary film that will finish production by September 1st and distributed to conservation organizations up and down the eastern seaboard to educate and build opposition to off-shore drilling. This is a vital tool and no one else is making such a film!
In the south, we currently have a very dangerous situation. With the exception of Virginia, all states have Republican governors. In Virginia, the Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe has made clear he supports off-shore oil and gas development. For Republicans there is almost a sense of bliss about the pending development. The continued push for fossil fuels is a central template to keeping America addicted to oil. President Obama has made clear his support for opening the Atlantic coast to off-shore development.
Over the past two years we have traveled extensively to North Carolina, meeting with people along the coast, in the larger cities and asking them what they thought about drilling off their coast. Most people I spoke with made clear they wanted no part of it because they had chosen to live there due to the natural beauty and the pull that the ocean has on their psyche.
The other major reason was that they derived their livelihood off the ocean, from fishing to tours, from restaurants to arcades. They taught at universities, or worked as police. What placed them there was complex but real: They were born to this place or moved to the coast because of a primordial desire to wake each day to the sound of breaking waves.
Away from the coast, the conservative sense of the south was more skeptical. Many expressed a sense that “Arabs were controlling oil and costing us lives, so let’s drill.” The hate and loathing of President Obama seemed to color much of the debate. What was most striking was the complete lack of understanding of just what oil and gas development would do to the coast. People seemed to trust the commercials they had seen about the gulf as evidence that a spill would have no long-term impacts. They seemed to believe that “new technology” was going to ensure safety. In terms of infrastructure to move oil or gas and the need for terminals to transport it overseas for export, was something no one had any idea about.
One spill could have devastating and long-term consequences for life as we know it on the Atlantic coast.
So the message was oil development was all gain and no pain! That was at the core of our decision to create this film, to get people to understand that generations of people’s way of life could be threatened by development. That keeping America addicted to oil means more wars, more spills and less freedom.
While we push, so too does big oil throwing lots of money at politicians along the coast and meeting with county commissions with a strategy of selling them on the money drilling could provide and false promises of safety.
Having lived in New Mexico, we have seen firsthand the devastation caused by spills or explosions on the land, and have seen the clusters of cancer near drilling sites or the foul air that stings the nostrils. We have seen the impacts to wildlife and can only wonder what seismic blasts and drill rigs will do to right whales, dolphins and sea turtles.
People in the south are far too trusting of big oil and that is because it has never been their neighbor. The conservative politics of the area only reinforces the divide that pushes people to reactively support that which they do not truly understand.
Our goal is to film the people living from Florida to North Carolina, to hear in their own words, why drilling the coast is bad for their future and bad for America. We want to capture the beauty and essence of a wild ocean and all the creatures that make it so very special.
This fight has a long way to go, but we must give people a visual sense of what is at stake and we must meet with them one person at a time to change and build a strong group of citizens emboldened to protect the life and wild spirit of their coast.
Bold Visions Conservation has a goal of being a small but nimble conservation organization working across the country on issues of critical importance to the environment. Please help us to raise $5000 to make this film a reality!
It’s part of our commitment to partner with other groups for change!
Bold Visions Conservation