Editor: In a recent Letter to the editor, the author claimed that the "sky is falling" due to the recent announcement to open up leasing opportunities in the waters around the United States. I don’t know what’s more egregious, the lack of information behind his arguments or the inflammatory nature and false facts being pushed in his diatribe. I’d like to address some of his concerns and points and present the facts on the matter.
In his writing, he mentions that right whales utilize the waters up to 15 miles off the coast of Georgia for calving because of the makeup of the geography and general lack of predators. These waters offer up the prime calving grounds to raise their young, eventually raising them to the point where they can survive against their natural predators. While I agree that we should continue to protect these animals and their spawning areas, the rhetoric used to describe the possible impacts on them is just false. If my friend had reviewed the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s plan, he would have seen that the proposed plan includes a 25-mile nautical buffer zone to protect sea animals and respect sight lines from the land, among other reasons.
The author then goes to claim that the Gulf of Mexico and the North Atlantic are different bodies of water, which is true, but then states that the North Atlantic is rough; posing many new challenges that can’t be overcome in the safe manner. Currently, there are a number of platforms in the Artic and in the North Sea, some of the most treacherous bodies of water in the world, which operate in a safe manner. Simply put, these challenges have already been addressed through advances in technology, but we should continue to hold them to a high standard for environmental stewardship and safety. I believe both can be done.
Finally, the author tries to paint a mental picture of dead whales washed up on our beaches due to seismic testing and exploration. While he is clearly an avid supporter of our environment, he has failed to mention the lack of any verifiable information or data indicating that seismic testing has a negative impact on the health of right whales. I continue to see these allegations brought forth, but there is no data to support this argument. Additionally, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and Department of Interior have noted in the past that they are willing and able to tailor these activities to address the needs of marine animals.
Congressman Buddy Carter has publicly stated many times that this is his home and he has no intention of allowing harm to happen to it. At this point, and given the government’s history of offshore interests and expertise, I believe his statements. This step by the Trump Administration does not mean we will have drilling, and it doesn’t mean we will have our beloved marine mammals washing up in droves on the shore. This means that our country wants to know what sorts of resources are beneath us so that we aren’t found in a situation where our global competitors can hold us hostage.
Let’s review the facts, limit the conjecture, and figure out what resources surround us while doing it in an environmental sustainable manor that can preserve our beautiful coasts.
Captain David Newlin