Environmentalist religious leaders sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Thursday, urging him to halt expansion of off-shore drilling to “protect God’s marine creation.”
Hundreds of church leaders from the National Religious Partnership for the Environment signed the letter addressed to Trump and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, to add their voices to the opposition against plans to expand offshore natural gas and oil drilling and seismic testing, according to The Washington Examiner. Religious leaders sent the letter in response to Zinke’s Jan. 4 announcement of plans to make over 90 percent of the federally-owned acreage in the outer continental shelf available for expanded drilling and seismic testing.
“Offshore drilling brings unacceptable risks to God’s oceans and coastal communities,” the religious leaders wrote.
“Expanding drilling into our Arctic, Atlantic, Eastern Gulf of Mexico and Pacific waters—still largely unspoiled by drilling’s inherent hazards and harms—would put our coastal residents, businesses, oceans, and climate at grave risk. Exposing the Gulf of Mexico to additional drilling would further burden residents with the pollution and risks that have already caused great, lasting harm to the region. God created the oceans with an abundance of life and, as stewards of God’s earth, we should work to preserve and protect God’s marine creation. As people of faith, we also uphold our duty to love our neighbors. Oceans provide food sources and livelihoods for millions in the U.S. and globally,” the letter added.
The church leaders instead suggested that the administration focus on developing renewable energy resources, particularly wind and solar power. Wind power, however, has garnered criticism not just for its harmful effects on birds and bats, but also for the newly discovered deadly effects of wind turbine noise on marine life.
Zinke’s announcement of the plans for expanded drilling explained that the move is meant to help the U.S. gain energy independence from foreign markets, but also to establish the U.S. as a dominant player in the energy industry worldwide. Walter Cruickshank, director for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said in the letter that while the primary goal is to help increase U.S. economic competitiveness, the administration aims to do so in a way that is environmentally safe.
“American energy production can be competitive while remaining safe and environmentally sound,” the letter quotes Cruickshank as saying. “Public input is a crucial part of this process, and we hope to hear from industry groups, elected officials, other government agencies, concerned citizens and others as we move forward with developing the 2019-2024 National OCS Program.”
Religious leaders from the NRPE alleged, however, that the plans could not be environmentally safe by virtue of the fact that, according to them, oil drilling will inevitably result in environmental disaster.
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