Offshore oil and gas development: bad for the environment, bad for New England.

That was the message from the panel of experts at the January 10 Protect Our Coasts event at the New England Aquarium. More than 200 people came to hear from the experts and learn how to voice their own opposition to oil and gas development in the U.S. waters of the Atlantic.

The audience listens to a presentation from a member of the Surfrider Foundation.
The audience listens to a presentation by a member of the Surfrider Foundation.

The evening featured a film screening, an expert panel, a presentation from event partner Surfrider Foundation, and tables highlighting the event’s partners: Surfrider Foundation, Surfrider Foundation Massachusetts Chapter, Environment America, Environment Massachusetts, Women Working for Oceans, and 350 Cape Cod.

Moderated by New England Aquarium President and CEO Vikki Spruill, the expert panel crosscut industry, tourism, and science sectors. It featured: Beth Casoni, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association; Chris Adams, Chief of Staff of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce; and Dr. Scott Kraus, Vice President and Senior Science Advisor at the New England Aquarium’s Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life.

The panel included, from left, Vikki Spruill (moderator), Chris Adams, Beth Casoni, and Dr. Scott Kraus.

The members of the panel had different backgrounds and different reasons for their stance, but the same “no” to oil and gas development off the East Coast.

Casoni spoke of the 2003 Bouchard Barge oil spill in Buzzards Bay, a region where the lobster industry still has not recovered. Adams reminded the audience that a healthy coast is a healthy Cape and that when tourists think of Cape Cod, they don’t differentiate between beaches and town—if one beach is covered in oil, the entire Cape’s livelihood is affected. Dr. Kraus reflected on the impacts of both seismic exploration and oil spills on marine life. Scientific studies show that offshore oil and gas exploration means fewer fish are caught, more zooplankton die, and marine mammals struggle to flourish.

So what can you do?

Sign up for updates. Due to the federal shutdown, we’re not sure when the Trump administration will release its proposed five-year oil and gas leasing plan. Sign up for email updates, and we’ll keep you up to date.

When the Trump administration releases its proposed five-year national outer continental shelf oil and gas leasing program, we’ll send you instructions for letting your voice be heard during the public comment period. You’ll only have 90 days to comment once the plan is released, so be sure to sign up for updates.

Visit neaq.org/offshoreoil to learn more and get involved.