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In the continuing and frustrating national debate about potential oil drilling off the United States’ coasts the National Board of Directors of Surfers’ Environmental Alliance is strongly opposed to any new plans to open the Outer Continental Shelf to new Oil Drilling or related operations. We believe our position reflects the opinion of countless numbers of coastal residents along our country’s coasts who depend on non-polluted ocean and bay waters to earn their livelihoods in a vast number of marine-related occupations, as well as those residents and visitors who chose to enjoy recreational opportunities in coastal waters, including surfers, divers, fishermen, sailors, boaters, paddlers and beach goers.

We are the people in the water, so we are keenly aware of water pollution and fully realize oil drilling operations are a well-known and thoroughly-documented source of marine pollution. SEA reminds everyone that American residents have seen over-and-over again the huge damage to both the environment and our coastal economy caused by careless oil spills. We ask that you note we’re not talking only about the frustrating job of cleaning-up oil-fouled beaches or trying to save oil-smothered wildlife, but we are also talking about the tremendous economic hit suffered by any tourist-based businesses or local economies and by any marine-oriented activities whatsoever. Many coastal communities depend directly on healthy marine environments and need clean and safe ocean waters for their economic well-being.

Our American coasts are priceless assets that attract businesses, researchers and visitors seeking both employment, active recreation of countless types, and relaxation in a natural setting throughout the year. Our country’s healthy ocean waters, clean beaches, plentiful wildlife, and inspiring natural vistas are well-known and celebrated around the world, and we should allow nothing to damage such irreplaceable assets of the United States.

Any renewed or ongoing efforts to grant new oil exploration and development leases on the Outer Continental Shelf or to otherwise expand drilling operations only invites the coast to suffer new environmental disasters due to failures or oversights in the construction or daily operations of oil exploration or drilling.

Under current regulations, fully-laden oil tankers regularly sail the East and West Coast waters and many facilities currently exist to off-load and store oil from said vessels. These circumstances already constantly risk operational accidents which have documented potential to result in tremendous oil-related damage to the coastal and marine environment. We have witnessed such events over and over again in the years the oil industry has operated off our coasts and therefore must reasonably expect to see such environmental disasters due to oil-industry related operations again in the future. If history shows us that such “accidents” are inevitable at such a huge environmental, economic and social cost, we should not passively allow such operations to increase.

We have taken part in the recent “Hands Across the Sands” event that occurred on many coasts around the world, and offered individuals a chance to join hands across the beach as a visible public statement against oil drilling operations, and we have posted letters and emails on the subject, as appropriate. We have also stated our views on TV and in print media.

We must not allow industrial interests to destroy the irreplaceable natural gems of our nation and to severely damage the livelihoods of the countless people who depend upon non-polluted coastal waters and clean beaches to make a living and raise their families, and who subsequently understand the overwhelming necessity to preserve and protect the natural environment.

Therefore, Surfers’ Environmental Alliance (SEA) contends that it is irresponsible to place the narrow-focused and profit-seeking interests of the oil industry above the economic survival of untold numbers of coastal residents and workers who absolutely depend on healthy ocean systems, plentiful fisheries, clean ocean waters, and safe and attractive beaches.

We believe it essential to our children’s heritage that we preserve the natural wonders of our coastal and marine environment for their use and enjoyment.