Another Executive Order leads to yet another hit on the environment as North Carolina becomes a target for offshore oil drilling.The Outer Banks of North Carolina have been free of oil drilling for nearly 30 years, but it is going to be a fight to keep the coast under protection. In late April, President Trump directed the U.S. Dept. of the Interior to review locations for offshore oil and gas exploration. The Executive Order calls for returning hundreds of miles of federal waters in the mid and south Atlantic, that just last year were marked off-limits by the previous administration, back into eligibility for drilling. Moving forward with the process, the administration announced on May 10 that it is beginning the permitting process for seismic testing in the Atlantic waters.Vessel in the process of seismic testing.Photo by World Maritime NewsLoud blasts of compressed air boom through the ocean’s depths from multiple seismic air gun arrays in the process of seismic testing. This technique surveys through the ocean to find oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean floor. According to the Outer Banks Sentinel, critics argue that air blasting process is harmful to marine life, while the Department of Interior counters that it should not have “significant impacts on marine mammal populations.”Drilling deep into more remote waters such as the shores of the mid-Atlantic, increases the risk of spills which, as we learned with the BP crisis, can irreversibly damage the ocean, threaten livelihoods, and destroy habitats. Adding to the potential impact on marine life, carbon pollution to the air gets added to the mix as it is caused from the burning fossil fuels and is the leading cause of climate change and ocean acidification.In an effort to give voice to many who oppose the seismic testing and oil drilling, the Business Alliance for Protecting the Atlantic Coast (BAPAC) headed off for Washington D.C. just after the signing of the Executive Order to deliver a strong message to representatives in Congress: offshore oil and gas drilling and exploration is bad for business. As of today, 125 East Coast municipalities, over 1,200 elected officials and an alliance representing over 41,000 businesses and 500,200 fishing families have publicly opposed seismic airgun blasting.Mark Dodd, a wildlife biologist from Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources, surveying the oil-filled Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.Photo by GA Dept. of Nat. ResourcesImpacting the state economy from the beaches to the Blue Ridge, the addition of oil rigs off the coast would impact countless businesses from commercial fishing to tourism and recreation. Healthy, clean ocean ecosystems are crucial in preserving the nearly 1.4 million jobs and over $95 billion made in gross domestic product each year along the Atlantic coast.“Clean, renewable resources of energy like offshore wind would provide far more jobs than oil drilling,” according to Oceana, an international organization focused solely on ocean advocacy.Bringing in a more optimistic view, David McGowan, executive director of the N.C. Petroleum Council, an industry trade group, says that even under the most favorable conditions, the process – which involves hearings, studies and reviews – would take at least a decade before oil rigs pumped the first barrel.Whether oil rigging off the coast of North Carolina were to happen tomorrow or in 10 years, it’s time to start taking action and letting your elected officials know where you stand on oil rigs becoming a reality. If you would rather not have seafood on your plate from potentially oil polluted waters and don’t wish to take part in a practice that does much more harm than good, say no to offshore drilling. Help preserve our healthy coasts for generations of the future enjoy and take pride in.
CLICK HERE for a podcast with USG President Monish Tyagi and Daily Trojan News Editor Rachel Bracker about the ‘We Are Considerate’ Campaign. USC will roll out a new campaign today in an effort to improve bike safety and encourage riders to develop more courteous bike behavior.The “We are Considerate, We are USC” initiative is an effort to use the strength of the Trojan Family to enact positive changes on campus. The university plans to use the programs’ principles to address the problems related to bikes on campus.“It is not just about us enforcing a code of conduct, but looking out for one another, being safe on campus and not being distracted when we are on a bike, or even on foot,” said Thomas Studdert, the campaign’s project manager and director of Orientation Programs.The campaign will be announced in a letter to students, faculty and staff from Vice President for Student Affairs Michael L. Jackson, Vice President of Career and Protective Services Charles Lane, Undergraduate Student Government President Monish Tyagi and Graduate and Professional Student Senate President Ryan Estes. The letter attributes the increase in congestion from biking to USC becoming a more residential university.With the campaign, Studdert said he hopes to make “considerate” the sixth “Trait of a Trojan,” after faithful, scholarly, skillful, courageous and ambitious.“It’s going to be part of a larger campaign where people are more considerate on campus,” Tyagi said.The campaign includes an Operations committee, which comprises representatives from a diverse range of parties, including the Dept. of Public Safety, USG, GPSS, the athletics department, Career and Protective Services and departments in Student Affairs.“It’s out of hand for a university perspective as a whole,” Studdert said. “We are not just addressing bikes, we are addressing the culture of being considerate community members to one another. We are talking about a bigger picture. This is something that, as members of a Trojan Family, we need to do for one another.”The bike initiative encompasses five key points: “share the pathways and yield to pedestrians,” “walk your bikes,” “encourage safety,” “park it” and “watch the road.” Studdert said the goals will be publicized in the coming months and at a kickoff event Nov. 7.In addition to launching the campaign, the university has hired an external consulting firm, Kendall Planning and Design, to analyze the bike situation.Though the ultimate goal of the campaign is to reduce reliance on DPS to enforce bike policy, Studdert said the university will increase bike rule enforcement in the coming months.“We are going to have to move into a strict enforcement phase,” he said. “Over the course of the next couple of months, we are going to ratchet up the enforcement of existing bike policy or [policies] that might be suggested as part of the consulting process.”The consulting firm will gather information, including the number of bikes on campus at various times of the day and student opinion for about eight to 12 months, after which the firm will make suggestions about bike policy on campus, Studdert said.“They have done this at other campuses,” Studdert said. “They come in and look at the design and infrastructure of a campus.”The school is not ruling out any possible policy changes, including bike bans or bike parking on the campus perimeter, Studdert said at last week’s USG Senate meeting.“Everything and anything is on the table to have discussions throughout the process,” Studdert said.Tyagi said although students would be upset by a bike ban, they will be equally upset if bike traffic becomes so congested pedestrians cannot walk safely on campus.“Most students are on the same page and they are looking for some sort of compromise … where pedestrians and bikers can share the space safely and considerately,” Tyagi said.Studdert said that unlike past campaigns, this effort has the support of key university officials.“We have a president, provost and vice president for student affairs who are interested in addressing this problem,” he said.The one-hour kickoff event next Wednesday, Nov. 9 near Tommy Trojan will include remarks from Tyagi, a performance from Kenton Chen, who graduated in 2010 and is a member of the a capella group Backbeats, and other activities. DPS will also be available for students to register their bikes.Kendall Planning and Design will distribute surveys at the event.